With a mix of prestige and offbeat titles, the 39th Telluride Film Festival will present its usual eclectic array of possible awards contenders over the Labor Day weekend.
The lineup, unveiled Thursday, draws heavily on international titles and films that will head to the Toronto Film Festival, including Nicolaj Arcel’s “A Royal Affair,” Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone,” Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha,” Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” Wayne Blair’s “The Sapphires,” Pablo Larrian’s “No,” Roger Mitchell’s “Hyde Park on Hudson,” Christian Petzold’s “Barbara,” Sally Potter’s “Ginger and Rosa,” Thomas Vinterbeg’s “The Hunt,” Ariel Vroman’s “The Iceman” and Michael Winterbottom’s “Everyday.”
Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” has also been selected, with Rushdie set to attend. “Ice Man,” Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell” and Ramin Bahrani’s family melodrama “At Any Price” will carry the distinction of having played at all three late summer fests — Telluride, Toronto and Venice.
In all, the Telluride program contains 33 feature films along with six movies selected by the guest director, British author Geoff Dyer; 29 short films; and a dozen documentaries screening in the fest’s Backlot program.
Tributes are set for French actress Marion Cotillard with the “Rust and Bone” screening; director Roger Corman as part of a screening of “Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel”; and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen along with screenings of “A Royal Affair” and “The Hunt.”
Projection specialist C. Chaplin Cutler Jr. and his Boston Light and Sound will be awarded a special medallion. This year’s program is dedicated to a pair of notable indie figures who passed away this year, exec Bingham Ray and Australian filmmaker Jan Sharp.
The initial lineup for the fest, which begins a four-day run Friday, did not include a pair of titles rumored to be headed for Telluride — Ben Affleck’s “Argo” and Clint Eastwood’s “Trouble With the Curve” — though the programmers always like to keep a few surprises up their sleeves.
Reps of the festival and Warner Bros. would not confirm that the studio’s “Argo” will screen but sources with knowledge said the hostage rescue drama is expected to screen at Telluride.
Other international titles include a pair of Toronto-bound films — Isareli director Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack” and German helmer Ulrich Seidl’s sex-tourist drama “Paradise: Love” — along with Saudi director Haifa Al Mansour’s debut feature “Wadjda” and Italian director Tullio Girodana’s “Piazza Fontana.”
As usual, the Telluride program offers an extensive documentary selection with Droh Morer’s “The Gatekeepers,” centered on Israeli security chiefs; Liz Garbus’ Marilyn Monroe project “Love Marilyn”; Ken Burns’ “The Central Park Five,” centered on the 1989 rape case; Mark Cousins’ “What Is This Film Called Love,” which examines his 15-hour “Story of Film”; and Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” about Indonesian death squad leaders.
Programmers followed their typical pattern by drawing on half a dozen Cannes titles, including Palme d’Or winner “Amour”; “The Hunt,” for which Mikkelson won the best actor as an innocent man accused of child molestation; “Central Park Five”; “No”; “Rust and Bone”; and “The Sapphires.” They also picked a pair of Berlin films — “A Royal Affair,” set in the 18th century in the Danish court; and “Barbara,” focused on a doctor in 1980 East Germany and for which Petzold won the Silver Bear for best director.
Telluride’s seen an impressive list of awards contenders in recent years, serving as the launching pad for “The King’s Speech,” “The Descendants,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Juno,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “The Last King of Scotland.”
Unlike the Venice and Toronto fests, however, Telluride continues to opt for a straightforward presentation without red carpets or awards competitions. The organizers refuse to tout any title as a “premiere.”
About a third of the films will be shown digitally in the nine venues, according to festival co-director Julie Huntsinger. Several of the smaller theaters are not yet outfitted with digital screening technology.
Telluride remains unique among major festivals by keeping its titles a secret until the day before it opens. The program went to the printer on Sunday.
“As usual, we have a pretty good idea of what the final lineup will be like by the first week in August, but juggling everyone’s schedules keeps us working until the end,” Huntsinger said.
Huntsinger noted that the festival remains open to anyone who shows up, and though passes have sold out, individual tickets remain available to many of the screenings. In addition, the fest will keep half a dozen of the films for local screenings between Sept. 4 and 10.
She noted that Telluride regular Werner Herzog is a notable absence this year due to his family’s plan for a 70th birthday celebration this weekend in Austria. “Mark my words, we will definitely have Werner back at the 40th festival next year,” she added.
Huntsinger’s particularly enthused about the showing of “Amour.” “It has a deep beauty and just leaves you stunned,” she said.
Main program lineup:
THE ACT OF KILLING (d. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, 2012);
AMOUR (d. Michael Haneke, Austria, 2012); AT ANY PRICE (d. Ramin Bahrani, U.S., 2012);
THE ATTACK (d. Ziad Doueiri, Lebanon-France, 2012);
BARBARA (d. Christian Petzold, Germany, 2012);
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE (d. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon, U.S., 2012);
EVERYDAY (d. Michael Winterbottom, U.K., 2012);
FRANCES HA (d. Noah Baumbach, U.S., 2012);
THE GATEKEEPERS (d. Dror Moreh, Israel, 2012);
GINGER AND ROSA (d. Sally Potter, England, 2012);
THE HUNT (d. Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 2012);
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (d. Roger Michell, U.S., 2012);
THE ICEMAN (d. Ariel Vromen, U.S., 2012);
LOVE, MARILYN (d. Liz Garbus, U.S., 2012);
MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (d. Deepa Mehta, Canada-Sri Lanka, 2012);
NO (Pablo Larraín, Chile, 2012);
PARADISE: LOVE (d. Ulrich Seidl, Austria, 2012);
PIAZZA FONTANA (d. Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2012);
A ROYAL AFFAIR (d. Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark, 2012);
RUST & BONE (d. Jacques Audiard, France, 2012);
THE SAPPHIRES (d. Wayne Blair, Australia, 2012);
STORIES WE TELL (d. Sarah Polley, Canada, 2012);
SUPERSTAR (d. Xavier Giannoli, France, 2012);
WADJDA (d. Haifaa Al-Mansour, Saudi Arabia, 2012);
WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE? (d. Mark Cousins, Ireland-Mexico, 2012).