TELLURIDE: Sent off on a high note

Posted by · 2:32 pm · September 5th, 2011

Today is the final day of the 38th annual Telluride fest, and the whole thing was another rewarding sprint through the Labor Day weekend. This afternoon I had the great pleasure of sitting down with “The Descendants” star Shailene Woodley to get her wide-eyed, “it’s all happening” perspective on the early days of this year’s awards season. But the day started with perhaps the narrative highlight of the festival for me so far.

Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” is, plain and simple, a masterful piece of work that will be with me for a very long time. On the surface it is about the fallout of an Iranian couple headed for divorce but side-tracked by a tragic accident that leaves the husband tangled in a judicial web, but on a deeper level, it’s about so much more. Call it “divorce and its discontents,” because it is, ultimately, a study of parenthood and integrity and situational decisions that impact the impressionable.

The film is the talk of Europe, so said director and Telluride staple Peter Sellars (with an “a”) by way of introduction. And it looks to be erasing the lines that politics can so often darken, he said. The film features a number of expertly tuned performances from Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Shahab Hosseini and Sareh Bayat, but it’s young Sarina Farhadi who steals your heart in the film.

I was incredibly moved by the humanity of Farhadi’s work and its skillful grace. This will be Iran’s official Oscar submission, and it had better land a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film or it’s just time to call the whole thing off.

And with that, my 2011 Telluride experience draws to a close. I cherished talking about hiking Kauai’s Napali coast with Shailene Woodley and trying to keep up with George Clooney’s political chatter. I was moved to be in the presence of Serge Bromberg and his preservation work. I was, no question, humbled to be in the presence of the great Werner Herzog (interview to come later in the week). I delighted in the usual schmoozing and boozing and catching up with publicist friends who lurk behind the scenes but are, so many of them, genuinely incredible and unsung people.

And, of course, I enjoyed yet another opportunity to see great works of cinema at a festival that just can’t be matched for its enthusiasm for the form. I’m sad to go, but I’ll definitely be back. I hope the coverage was up to snuff.

Check back later today for a post-mortem Off the Carpet column addressing the takeaways from here and Venice. I’m off to the airport in a matter of minutes. Goodbye Colorado.

Just for fun, ranking the features I saw:

1. “Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life”
2. “A Separation”
3. “Shame”
4. “The Descendants”
5. “The Artist”
6. “Le Havre”
7. “Albert Nobbs”
8. “A Dangerous Method”
9. “Pina”

Really bummed to miss but will catch at some point:

“In Darkness”
“The Island President”
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
“The Turin Horse”
“We Need to Talk About Kevin”

[Photo: Sony Pictures Classics]

→ 13 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily · Reviews

13 responses so far

  • 1 9-05-2011 at 2:42 pm

    redcup said...

    Great coverage, here and on Twitter.

  • 2 9-05-2011 at 3:03 pm

    Amir said...

    Actually Kris, don’t at all be surprised if A Separation is not submitted by the Iranian committee. Rumour has it, the extent of the minister of culture’s hatred for Farhadi is so deep, they might ban the Oscars all together instead of submitting a film altogether, just to piss him and virtually the whole film community and the public of Iran off. (The film is the highest grossing film at the box office there this year, so it’s really popular with everyone.)
    There’s also another film called Alzheimers which might be submitted but funny enough, the director himself is rooting for A Separation instead.
    Iranian cinema has much more to do with politics than with merit or Oscar chances, sadly.

  • 3 9-05-2011 at 3:24 pm

    Michael said...

    That’s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” not George Michael. Big difference.

  • 4 9-05-2011 at 3:26 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Really glad you’re down with A Separation. Incidentally, for readers whose interest has been piqued, I reviewed it at the Berlinale here:

  • 5 9-05-2011 at 3:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Awesome typo. I almost did it once before.

  • 6 9-05-2011 at 4:06 pm

    will said...

    Great coverage, Kris. You guys do the festival circuit like nobody else.

  • 7 9-05-2011 at 5:00 pm

    Tom Clift said...

    Amir, that’s awful to hear about the Iranian ministry of culture. I saw the film at the Melbourne Film Festival last month, and it absolutely blew me away (easily the best thing I’ve seen all year).

  • 8 9-05-2011 at 5:10 pm

    Liz said...

    Thanks for all your hard work, Kris!

  • 9 9-05-2011 at 5:21 pm

    Liz said...

    Sorry to derail the thread, but I have a question, Kris. BoxOfficeMojo recently updated their release schedule, and they listed “Coriolanus” as being bumped to January 13.

    I know you’ve been out of the loop for the last few days, but have you heard anything about that? Seems like a very strange move, with the movie being finished and Redgrave being a contender and all.

  • 10 9-05-2011 at 9:14 pm

    Paul said...

    Awesome coverage of Tellurie, Kris! I’m now incredibly excited to see Shame and The Descendants, especially after reading your interview with Woodley.

    When do you think you’re going to update the contenders next? I’m curious to see how you think the rankings stand as of now.

  • 11 9-05-2011 at 9:21 pm

    red_wine said...

    Great coverage Kris. I get the feeling you liked only the first 3 movies in your list unequivocally, you had some minor reservations about each of the rest.

  • 12 9-06-2011 at 9:46 am

    Carman J. said...

    Thanks for the great updates and thoughts, Kris. I was able to attend for the first time this year with my wife (for our honeymoon). Our favourites of the fest were definitely “A Separation” and “Into the Abyss”. Hopefully they both get their due come Oscar time.

  • 13 9-07-2011 at 2:45 pm

    Jack said...

    With many of SPC’s major selections underwhelming at Venice, I wonder how much of a push they could make for A Separation to get City of God/Diving Bell kind of nominations (which, with the new system, can include one in Picture this time)?