It will be a star-studded Telluride Film Festival this year as awards hopefuls Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy and Ryan Gosling make the trek to the Colorado Rockies for the 45th edition of the Labor Day weekend fest that has increasingly become a major stop and Oscar season launch pad.

Holding their hand close to the vest  until this morning, Telluride announced an eclectic slate that is nirvana for cineastes, and catnip for awards watchers who will flock to the small town surrounded by mountains and ski lifts for the four day film orgy that runs August 31-September 3.

Netflix

The fest will feature a host of much anticipated new films, foreign language gems, documentaries, and tributes including those to Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron who is also bringing his black and white Spanish language Netflix film, Roma straight from Venice, as is fellow tributee Emma Stone whose new period film, The Favourite which co-stars Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman (said to steal the movie)  is also coming direct from the Lido.

Sony Pictures

Telluride isn’t in the labeling business but the festival has several World Premieres on tap, notably Robert Redford’s reported swan song to acting in David Lowery’s The Old Man And The Gun, co-starring Casey Affleck. That one is from Fox Searchlight which also has a second World Premiere in Melissa McCarthy starrer, Can You Ever Forgive Me? from director Marielle Heller. Searchlight has the biggest presence of any distributor at Telluride this year as The Favourite is also theirs.

Among major studios Sony is also well represented, not only with the usual smattering of foreign films and specialty items from Sony Pictures Classics, but also two entries from Sony Pictures itself, the World Premieres of Yann Demange’s White Boy Rick starring Matthew McConaughey in a supporting turn that is drawing awards buzz from those who’ve seen it already, and Jason Reitman’s political drama, The Front Runner, revolving around 1984 Democratic Presidential candidate Gary Hart and the scandal that doomed his campaign. Hugh Jackman stars as Hart. Both Jackman and McConaughey will be on hand along with their directors. And Nicole Kidman, who on more than one occasion has been dubbed the queen of Cannes for having multiple movies on view, might be this year’s queen of Telluride too as her change-of-pace role in Destroyer (from Annapurna and director Karyn Kusama) will be on display, as well as Focus Features’ Joel Edgerton-directed Boy Erased, co-starring Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges as a young man subjected to conversion therapy, both also World Premieres. Actor Ralph Fiennes will also be represented with his latest directorial effort, The White Crow from SPC.

Focus Features

Among other hot titles announced today are Damien Chazelle’s rapturously reviewed Neil Armstrong man-on-the-moon film from Universal that is coming from the Venice Film Festival where it just opened that fest, and marks Chazelle’s second trip to both festivals in just three years. Mike Leigh will be on hand with his latest, the period piece Peterloo that surprisingly skipped Cannes to hit the Fall circuit instead. Ed Zwick will also be on hand with his latest, the Texas set Death Row prisoner drama, Trial By Fire with both Jack O’Connell  and Laura Dern delivering powerful performances in one of the festival’s rare acquisition titles.

The Other Side Of The Wind Poster
Netflix

Of course. as always there will be numerous films imported from May’s Cannes Festival including Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, and Un Certain Regard winner Border. The terrific Italian entry, Dogman which won the Cannes Best Actor prize for Marcello Fonte is scheduled, as is Poland’s Cold War. Belgium’s acclaimed Girl is also on display at Telluride,  along with Directors Fortnight hit, Birds Of Passage. As usual there will be a boatload of intriguing documentaries unspooling including Charles Ferguson’s four-hour Watergate: Or How We Learned To Stop An Out-Of-Control President with CBS’ Lesley Stahl among other newsies in town to support the all -encompassing story of the 1972 Watergate break-in and its aftermath that includes dramatizations of Richard Nixon’s famous Oval Office tapes. A bunch of showbiz related docus include those on Buster Keaton (from Peter Bogdanovich), director Hal Ashby (Hal), The Ghost Of Peter Sellers,  iconic film critic Pauline Kael docu What She Said, and the wonderful Be Natural: The Untold Story Of Alice Guy-Blache, another import from Cannes which tells the story of the first woman director (in 1896!), a must for film fans. Morgan Neville, who already is an Oscar front runner for his Mr. Rogers docu this year, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, another brilliant docu on the making of Orson Welles’ long gestating (about 50 years) notorious film about Hollywood, The Other Side Of The Wind. That movie which was finally completed thanks to funding from Netflix is one of Telluride’s most anticipated events , and is coming straight from its World Premiere tonight in Venice. I recommend seeing Neville’s docu first though if you really want to appreciate what Welles was up to when he started Wind  in 1970.

Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, Universal, Netflix, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions, Participant Media and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences are among those planning parties and receptions this year, and even expected rains won’t dampen the atmosphere of this one-of -kind festival that has become a very early harbinger for films on the way to Oscar’s Best Picture  including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, The Artist, Argo, 12 Years A Slave, Spotlight, Birdman, Moonlight, and last year’s winner The Shape Of Water.

As usual I will be in Telluride reporting on it all as it unfolds all weekend long. Here is the complete lineup:

    • ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT (d. James Longley, U.S.-Denmark-Norway, 2018)
    • BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ (d. Pamela E. Green, U.S., 2018)
    • BIRDS OF PASSAGE (d. Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, Colombia-Denmark-Mexico, 2018)
    • BORDER (d. Ali Abbasi, Sweden, 2018)
    • BOY ERASED (d. Joel Edgerton, U.S., 2018)
    • CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (d. Marielle Heller, U.S., 2018)
    • COLD WAR (d. Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland-France-U.K., 2018)
    • DESTROYER (d. Karyn Kusama, U.S., 2018)
    • DOGMAN (d. Matteo Garrone, Italy-France, 2018)
    • DOVLATOV (d. Aleksei German, Russia-Poland-Serbia, 2018)
    • FIRST MAN (d. Damien Chazelle, U.S., 2018)
    • FISTFUL OF DIRT (d. Sebastián Silva, U.S., 2018)
    • FREE SOLO (d. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, U.S., 2018)
    • GHOST FLEET (d. Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, U.S., 2018)
    • GIRL (d. Lukas Dhont, Belgium-Netherlands, 2018)
    • GRAVES WITHOUT A NAME (d. Rithy Panh, France-Cambodia, 2018)
    • MEETING GORBACHEV (d. Werner Herzog and André Singer, U.K.-U.S.-Germany, 2018)
    • NON FICTION (d. Olivier Assayas, France, 2018)
    • PETERLOO (d. Mike Leigh, U.K., 2018)
    • REVERSING ROE (d. Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, U.S., 2018)
    • ROMA (d. Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico, 2018)
    • SHOPLIFTERS (d. Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2018)
    • THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (d. John Chester, U.S., 2018)
    • THE FAVOURITE (d. Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland-U.K.-U.S., 2018)
    • THE FRONT RUNNER (d. Jason Reitman, U.S., 2018)
    • THE GREAT BUSTER (d. Peter Bogdanovich, U.S., 2018)
    • THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (d. David Lowery, U.S., 2018)
    • THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (d. Orson Welles, U.S., 1976/2018)
    • THE WHITE CROW (d. Ralph Fiennes, U.K., 2018)
    • THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD (d. Morgan Neville, U.S., 2018)
    • TRIAL BY FIRE (d. Ed Zwick, U.S., 2018)
    • WATERGATE – OR, HOW WE LEARNED TO STOP AN OUT-OF-CONTROL PRESIDENT (d. Charles Ferguson, U.S., 2018)
    • WHITE BOY RICK (d. Yann Demange, U.S., 2018)

The 2018 Silver Medallion Awards, given to recognize an artist’s significant contribution to the world of cinema, will be presented to Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuarón (with Roma), Academy Award winning actor Emma Stone (with The Favourite) and Oscar nominated Rithy Panh (with Graves Without A Name). Tribute programs include a selection of clips followed by the presentation of the Silver Medallion, an onstage interview and a screening of the aforementioned films.

Guest Director Jonathan Lethem, who serves as a key collaborator in the Festival’s program, presents the following revival programs:

      • ANGEL (d. Ernst Lubitsch, U.S., 1937)
      • BIGGER THAN LIFE (d. Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1956)
      • NEVER CRY WOLF (d. Carroll Ballard, U.S., 1983)
      • THE TARNISHED ANGELS (d. Douglas Sirk, U.S., 1957)
      • THE WHITE MEADOWS (d. Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2009)
      • TO BE OR NOT TO BE (d. Ernst Lubitsch, U.S., 1942)

Additional film revival programs include CHRISTIAN WAHNSCHAFFE, PARTS I & II (d. Urban Gad, Germany, 1920 – 1921), FIEÈ̀VRE (d. Louis Delluc, France, 1921), COEUR FID È̀̀LE (d. Louis Delluc, France, 1923) and REMOUS (d. Edmond T. Gréville, France, 1934).

Telluride Film Festival annually celebrates a hero of cinema who preserves, honors and presents great movies. This year’s Special Medallion award goes to Dieter Kosslick, film critic, journalist and researcher and current Director of the Berlin International Film Festival. The Special Medallion film, ELDORADO (d. Markus Imhoof, Germany-Switzerland, 2018) will screen in celebration.

Backlot, Telluride’s intimate screening room featuring behind-the-scenes movies and portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers, will screen the following programs:

        • A FINAL CUT FOR ORSON: 40 YEARS IN THE MAKING (d. Ryan Suffern, U.S., 2018) + THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES (d. Mark Cousins, U.K., 2018)
        • HAL (d. Amy Scott, U.S., 2018)
        • HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK: SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA (d. Brigitte Berman, Canada, 2018)
        • IT MUST SCHWING! THE BLUE NOTE STORY (d. Eric Friedler, Germany, 2018)
        • THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS (d. Peter Medak, U.K.-Cyprus, 2018)
        • WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL (d. Rob Garver, U.S., 2018)