This year’s Telluride Film Festival will be missing its beloved co-founder, Tom Luddy, who died this year. Thus, the 2023 festival is dedicated to Luddy (1943-2023), as well as co-founders Bill Pence (1940-2022), James Card (1915-2000), and Stella Pence. Executive Director Julie Huntsinger, whose role expanded in the years since she joined the festival as managing director in 2007, is running the show solo for the first time.
Per usual, the 50th anniversary TFF edition covers a range of over eighty feature films, new features, shorts, and classic programs representing twenty-nine countries, along with filmmaker tributes, conversations, seminars, and student programs. Huntsinger is carrying on the Luddy legacy while at the same time showcasing her own taste. “Tom was a fearless leader until the bitter end,” said Huntsinger on the phone during a recent interview with IndieWire. “I miss him so much. I’m devoted to tradition and continuity, and I am also fascinated and excited by the new.”
Silver Medallion tributee, the Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, who attended Telluride with Oscar-winner “The Favourite,” will show “Poor Things” (Searchlight) after its debut in Venice. Not returning will be star Emma Stone, due to the SAG strike.
Huntsinger lobbied hard with the distributors to keep their films in the festival, as well as Venice and Toronto. With a few exceptions, most stayed the course. “We are uniquely focused at Telluride on films and filmmakers,” she said. “Actors bring additional glitter, but everyone is looking forward to this old-school Telluride.”
Several brand new movies will debut in Telluride, including Emerald Fennell’s racy send-up of the aristocracy, “Saltburn” (Amazon), starring Barry Keoghan and Rosamund Pike, her follow-up to Oscar-winning “Promising Young Woman.”
A24 will introduce “Tuesday,” from first-time Brit filmmaker Daina O. Pusic, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. “It will tear your heart open,” said Huntsinger. “The British dare to take chances.” Also from the UK and Ireland is Joe Lawlor and Christine Malloy’s “Baltimore,” produced by Desperate Optimists and seeking distribution.
Netflix is showing two biopics, from George C. Wolfe (“Rustin,” starring Colman Domingo) and filmmaking partners Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi (“Nyad”). Annette Bening was 64 when she played long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who completed her swim from Cuba to Florida on her fifth try at age 64.
A tribute planned for Bening had to be scuttled due to the SAG strike, and broadcaster Nyad is another loyal SAG member. “Some movies are better discovered in an intimate environment,” said Huntsinger. “We’re trying to create a community, which is super-important.”
Many films on the program were shown at other festivals. For one thing, Huntsinger cited a stronger than usual Cannes lineup, including Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon), starring Sandra Hüller, who will attend; British director Jonathan Glazer’s German-language Holocaust film “The Zone of Interest” (A24), also starring Hüller, which shared the Cannes runner-up Grand Jury Prize; and Cannes Best Actor winner Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days” (Neon) and 3D artist documentary “Anselm” (Sideshow and Janus). Wenders will get two Silver Medallion tributes, introduced by author Pico Iyer and MoMA film curator Rajendra Roy, respectively.
Also playing Telluride is Aki Kaurismäki’s romantic comedy “Fallen Leaves,” which won the 2023 Cannes jury prize and is a likely Oscar submission for Finland. Other Cannes titles include Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s “La Chimera” (Neon), starring Josh O’Connor, and Pedro Almodovar’s English-language Western short, “Strange Way of Life” (Sony Pictures Classics) starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal.
SPC is also bringing German Oscar entry “The Teacher’s Lounge,” which debuted in Berlin and swept the German Film Awards, along with Best Actress winner Leonie Benesch. “She’s like Vicky Krieps,” said Huntsinger. “She speaks many languages, could play period or modern.”
In the last six years, as Luddy’s health declined, Huntsinger started collaborating with two rising film curators, Mexican scholar Mara Fortes and one-time Fiona Armour (one-time Dave Eggers protege), who puts together the shorts program with filmmakers Greg Nava and Barry Jenkins. One of the shorts (“The Heart”) is from WGA-member Malia Obama, who is supporting her guild and not attending. Neither are her Labor-friendly parents Barack and Michelle Obama, who executive-produced Netflix biopic “Rustin.”
The 50th anniversary edition of the Telluride Film Festival runs with an extra day this year, from Thursday, August 31 through Monday, September 4, 2023.
Here’s the feature selection for the Main Program, the SHOW:
- ALL OF US STRANGERS (d. Andrew Haigh, U.K., 2023)
- AMERICAN SYMPHONY (d. Matthew Heineman, U.S., 2023)
- ANATOMY OF A FALL (d. Justine Triet, France, 2023)
- ANSELM (d. Wim Wenders, Germany, 2023)
- BALTIMORE (d. Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy Ireland-U.K., 2023)
- BEYOND UTOPIA (d. Madeleine Gavin, U.S., 2023)
- THE BIKERIDERS (d. Jeff Nichols, U.S., 2023)
- CASSANDRO (d. Roger Ross Williams, U.S., 2023)
- DADDIO (d. Christy Hall, U.S., 2023)
- EL CONDE (d. Pablo Larraín, Chile, 2023)
- FALLEN LEAVES (d. Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 2023)
- THE FALLING STAR (d. Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, France-Belgium, 2023)
- FINALLY DAWN (d. Saverio Costanzo, Italy, 2023)
- FINGERNAILS (d. Christos Nikou, U.S., 2023)
- FOOD, INC. 2 (d. Robert Kenner, Melissa Robledo, U.S., 2023)
- HIGH & LOW-JOHN GALLIANO (d. Kevin Macdonald, U.K., 2023)
- THE HOLDOVERS (d. Alexander Payne, U.S., 2023)
- HOLLYWOODGATE (d. Ibrahim Nash’at, U.S.-Germany, 2023)
- JANET PLANET (d. Annie Baker, U.S., 2023)
- LA CHIMERA (d. Alice Rohrwacher, Italy-France-Switzerland, 2023)
- THE MISSION (d. Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss, U.S., 2023)
- THE MONK AND THE GUN (d. Pawo Choyning Dorji, Bhutan, 2023)
- NYAD (d. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, U.S., 2023)
- OCCUPIED CITY (d. Steve McQueen, Netherlands-U.K.-U.S., 2023)
- ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY (d. Paul B. Preciado, France, 2023)
- PERFECT DAYS (d. Wim Wenders, Japan, 2023)
- THE PIGEON TUNNEL (d. Errol Morris, U.K., 2023)
- POOR THINGS (d. Yorgos Lanthimos, U.S.-Ireland-U.K., 2023)
- THE PROMISED LAND (d. Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark-Germany-Sweden, 2023)
- THE ROYAL HOTEL (d. Kitty Green, Australia, 2023)
- RUSTIN (d. George C. Wolfe, U.S., 2023)
- SALTBURN (d. Emerald Fennell, U.S., 2023)
- THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE (d. Ilker Çatak, Germany, 2023)
- TEHACHAPI (d. JR, France, 2023)
- THANK YOU VERY MUCH (d. Alex Braverman, U.S., 2023)
- TUESDAY (d. Daina O. Pusić, U.S.-U.K., 2023)
- WILDCAT (d. Ethan Hawke, U.S., 2023)
- THE ZONE OF INTEREST (d. Jonathan Glazer, U.S.-U.K.-Poland, 2023)
- TFF selects four documentary shorts for its Main Program:
- IF DREAMS WERE LIGHTNING (d. Ramin Bahrani, U.S., 2023)
- INCIDENT (d. Bill Morrison, U.S., 2023)
- THE LAST REPAIR SHOP (d. Ben Proudfoot, Kris Bowers, U.S., 2023)
- THE LAST SONG FROM KABUL (d. Kevin Macdonald, Afghanistan-Qatar-Portugal-Germany, 2023)
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, TFF is selecting some of its past guests to curate its Guest Director program. Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Curtis, Ethan Hawke, Rachel Kushner, Steve McQueen, and Mira Nair’s selections include:
- JUVENILE COURT (d. Frederick Wiseman, U.S., 1973) Selected and presented by
- ALL THAT JAZZ (d. Bob Fosse, U.S., 1979) Selected and presented by Ethan Hawke
- JONAH WHO WILL BE 25 IN THE YEAR 2000 (d. Alain Tanner, France-Switzerland,
1976) Selected and presented by Alfonso Cuarón
- THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY (d. John Mackenzie, U.K., 1980) Selected and presented
by Adam Curtis
- ZÉRO DE CONDUITE (d. Jean Vigo, France, 1933) Selected and presented by Steve
- THE MUSIC ROOM (d. Satyajit Ray, India, 1958) Selected and presented by Mira Nair
The Special Medallion “celebrates a hero of cinema who preserves, honors. and presents essential, meaningful films.” This year’s award goes to Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. Film restorations by The Film Foundation to screen along with the program are Idrissa Ouédraogo’s “Yam Daabo” (Burkina Faso, 1986), Bahram Beyzaie’s “Downpour” (Iran, 1972), and two shorts by Agnès Varda: “Black Panthers” (France-U.S., 1970) and “Uncle Yanco” (France-U.S., 1968) which will be shown alongside “The Gleaners and I” (France, 2000) as part of a celebration of the late filmmaker.
Additional film restorations playing throughout the Festival include “The Unknown” (d. Tod Browning, U.S., 1927); “My grandmother” (d. Kote Mikaberidze, Soviet Union, 1929) with Finnish music ensemble Cleaning Women performing a live score; Abel Gance’s “La Roue” (France, 1923) shown in four chapters; and two films remembering TFF 21 Special Medallion recipient Ninón Sevilla: “Víctimas del Pecado” (d. Emilio Fernández, Mexico, 1951) and “Llévame en tus brazos” (d. Julio Bracho, Mexico, 1954).
Special Screenings and Festivities include Almodóvar’s “Strange Way of Life” (Spain, 2023); Ross White and Tom Berkeley’s short “The Golden West” (Ireland-U.K., 2023); a live performance by Jon Batiste following Thursday’s screening of the Matt Heinemann documentary “American Symphony,” Tina Satter’s “Reality” (U.S., 2023); Agnès Varda’s art installation, Patatutopia; and Festival poster signing by Luke Dorman.
Backlot, Telluride’s small screening room, features behind-the-scenes movies and portraits of artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Here’s the 2023 program:
- AKA MR. CHOW (d. Nick Hooker, U.S., 2023)
- ALL THAT IS SACRED (d. Scott Ballew, U.S., 2023) with TARPON (d. Guy de la
Valdene, Christian Odasso, U.S., 1973)
- ANGEL APPLICANT (d. Ken Meyer, U.S., 2023)
- CAROL DODA TOPLESS AT THE CONDOR (d. Marlo McKenzie, Jonathan Parker,
- CINEMA HAS BEEN MY TRUE LOVE: THE WORK AND TIMES OF LYNDA MYLES
(d. Mark Cousins, U.K., 2023)
- KIM’S VIDEO (d. David Redmon, Ashley Sabin, U.S.-U.K.-Italy, 2023)
- LITTLE GIRL BLUE (d. Mona Achache, France, 2023)
- MUSICA! (d. Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, U.S., 2023)
- NOTES FROM SHEEPLAND (d. Cara Holmes, Ireland, 2023)
- ROOM 999 (d. Lubna Playoust, France, 2023)
- ZINZINDURRUNKARRATZ (d. Oskar Alegría, Spain, 2023)
Telluride Film Festival’s shorts section, Filmmakers of Tomorrow, includes three programs: Student Prints, now in its 30th year, screens films from the best in student-produced work from around the globe; Calling Cards, exceptional new works by promising filmmakers; and Great Expectations, works from innovative and diverse filmmakers.