McCarthy on Telluride and why a secret line-up works

Posted by · 10:48 am · August 29th, 2011

This morning’s festival preview Off the Carpet column offered up a cross-section of films taking bows in the next few weeks. But a number of them can’t exactly be confirmed for Telluride, because, as always, the line-up is kept secret. It’s a unique strategy that has served the fest well over the years, and over at The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy pays tribute to the tactic.

McCarthy is a very well-versed Telluride vet, so he knows what he’s talking about here. He charts the course of Oscar’s dance with the early fall fest, which first proved to be a launching pad for such a campaign back in 1992 when Neil Jordan’s “The Crying Game” waltzed unassumingly into the mountain village. But it was 2005, McCarthy notes, with the bows of soon-to-be Oscar big guns “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “Walk the Line” that studios really started to get serious about taking their products there for an early peek.

Naturally, McCarthy eventually gets around to spit-balling potential films on the program, everything from the generally-expected “The Descendants” to Martin Scorsese’s set-for-Toronto documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.” But the true virtue, again, is the sense of being surprised.

Writes McCarthy:

Virtually from the beginning, Telluride has performed an exquisite balancing act: Between old and new, foreign and American, the esoteric and the accessible, the expected and the unknown. As at a great restaurant, it’s best to just place yourself in the chef’s hands and sample what’s served up. Some dishes are better than others, of course, but you can rarely say something was bad or a waste of time. Because of its limited duration, Telluride can afford to be picky and discriminating, which only works to the benefit of the viewer.

Navigating the usual publicity waters this time of year, we all tend to have a pretty good idea of what to expect at Telluride. But my fingers are nevertheless crossed for something truly unexpected. When I grabbed my schedule on the charter flight last year and saw “The Way Back” slotted, a smile struck across my face. Then I glanced up to see Peter Weir sitting behind me and it went ear-to-ear. Better than Christmas.

T-minus four days. Can’t wait.

[Photo: Review Fix]

1 Comment Tags: | Filed in: Daily

1 response so far

  • 1 8-29-2011 at 6:36 pm

    Fitz said...

    If I had the money to go, my pick would be Telluride.