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33 features on tap at Telluride

The Colorado festival that usually acts as a launching pad for Oscar contenders has Sean Penn's latest directorial effort and Cannes prizewinners this weekend.

August 31, 2007|Sheigh Crabtree | Times Staff Writer

The 2007 Oscar awards season has officially begun.

The Telluride Film Festival, the Colorado celluloid fete that serves as an intimate family reunion for cinephiles and a launching pad for specialty-film Oscar campaigns, unveiled its 34th annual lineup Thursday.

The four-day event in the San Juan Mountains will include 33 new feature films, 15 revivals and 16 new short films beginning this evening and wrapping up Monday.

Traditionally kept a secret until the eve of the festival's opening, this year's slate includes "Into the Wild," writer-director Sean Penn's adaptation of Jon Krakauer's nonfiction tale of a man's solo journey into the Alaskan wilderness; Alison Eastwood's directorial debut, "Rails & Ties," starring Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden; Noah Baumbach's "Margot at the Wedding," starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman; Anand Tucker's "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" starring Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent; and "Persepolis," the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel.

Cannes prizewinners in the mix include this year's Palme d'Or honoree, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," a Romanian abortion drama set in the final year of Ceausescu's dictatorship; Julian Schnabel's French-language "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which earned him the best director award in France this spring; Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine," starring Jeon Do-yeon, winner of Cannes' best actress prize; and Camera d'Or winner "Jellyfish," which follows three women through their lives in Tel Aviv.

This weekend, some of the festival's 1,200 pass holders will see chief Variety film critic Todd McCarthy's new documentary, "Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema," about the man credited with discovering directors Jane Campion and Abbas Kiarostami.

Recognized as an early award-season platform, the festival is closely followed by film fans and awards pundits.

Telluride word of mouth last year centered on German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's feature debut, "The Lives of Others." The East German secret police drama went on to win an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

Similarly, the festival's premiere of "The Last King of Scotland" generated early awards heat for Forest Whitaker's performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

However, the biggest surprise for the homey mountain festival last year was the departure of festival co-founders and co-directors Bill and Stella Pence.

In their absence, co-founder and co-director Tom Luddy brought aboard specialized-film exhibitor Gary Meyer to join in planning and programming the event.

The two have added a ninth venue to the festival. Dubbed Backlot, the new screening room inside the Telluride library will present 10 films about films.

Among the most anticipated are "Man in the Shadows: Val Lewton," Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones' tribute to the producer and screenwriter; "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism," featuring turns by J. Hoberman, Roger Ebert and Elvis Mitchell; and "Bergman Island: Ingmar Bergman on Faro Island, Cinema & Life."

During a series of discussions and screenings, the festival will pay tribute to actor Daniel Day-Lewis, next seen in Paul Thomas Anderson's version of Upton Sinclair's "There Will Be Blood"; three-time Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand ("Five Days in June"); and Indian director Shyam Benegal.


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