I have had the pleasure of attending the last 5 festivals in Telluride, minus one year due to COVID. The festival has an extremely relaxed vibe, more so than any other festival I have been to. Press do not receive any special treatment, and actors from the films are not overwhelmed with screaming fans and paparazzi. Plus, being in the middle of the mountains of Colorado is worth it. So, seeing as there has been a very important strike happening now for the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, it was just a bit more quiet this year at the festival but still a blast.
Of course, that doesn’t stop festival goers from visiting the gorgeous town of Telluride, Colorado and seeing an amazing lineup of films. Telluride Film Festival celebrated their 50th anniversary this year and had an extremely stellar lineup of movies. We did not get to see everything we wanted to as our schedule was stretched thin, but what we did see was excellent. Nine movies in total were seen and putting them in a ranked order is always so difficult. However, if I had to choose my top 3…
All Of Us Strangers (dir. Andrew Haigh)
To say I was speechless after watching this movie is an understatement. I left the theatre and could hear the chitter chatter of Telluride’s more elderly demographic and fell silent until I could gather all my thoughts. All Of Us Strangers is both a pseudo ghost story about a man who poses the ability to visit his long abandoned childhood home and rekindle a relationship with his long deceased parents, while also doubling as a love story between himself and the beautiful Paul Mescal who lives upstairs in his new high rise apartment building. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and the best thing Haigh has done up to this point in my personal opinion. Seeing Andrew Scott in such a vulnerable lead role was refreshing alongside Paul Mescal, Claire Foy, and Jamie Bell. The film is loosely based off of a Japanese manga with a twist: a gay love story. Being able to see Andrew Haigh talk in depth about his film during a Q&A with Chloe Zhao made the feeling of watching this all the more special as Haigh mentioned how personal the film is to him. So much so that he was able to film large sections of the movie in his childhood home. Once this film reaches a general audience, I hope anyone and everyone will check it out.
The Zone of Interest (dir. Jonathan Glazer)
Quite possibly the heaviest film I have seen in a while. Ten years have passed since Jonathan Glazer gave us his last film and he came in strong with this one. The Zone Of Interest is about an SS Commandant whose family lives next door to a concentration camp, only being separated by a tall cement wall. The story follows him and his family during this time period and how their idyllic life butts up against the extreme horror of the concentration camp and his profession. Films about Auschwitz are not taken lightly and are an extremely sensitive topic to put on screen. Not to mention it is very hard to call a film ‘great’ with the subject matter being so bleak. It’s a one-time watch kind of movie as it feels far too real, and authentic. Glazer did not change names of characters, as to keep the film’s authenticity intact. The most interesting thing is that there are zero close-ups of characters in order to give the entire thing a distant, almost cold feeling since they are never deserving of any kind of personal connection. Something that does not spoil the movie but will sit with me for quite awhile is seeing the children in the family play in their gorgeously green grass yard and swim in their clear pool while screams of innocent lives being snuffed out are echoing from the other side of the wall. Absolutely gut wrenching watching this movie but it feels important to see at least once, but only once.
The Bikeriders (dir. Jeff Nichols)
People that know me know how much I love Jeff Nichols, so naturally watching this the first night of the festival was a must. I am also a diehard Michael Shannon fan and being able to see him collaborate with Jeff Nichols for a fifth time was something I needed to observe with my own eyeballs. The Bikeriders is spicy hot and in the best way possible. Starring Austin Butler and Tom Hardy wearing leather jackets with denim vests over them and greased to the nines made me very very happy. If this was not known, The Bikeriders is a book by Danny Lyons who illustrates in black and white photography a Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club along with candid interviews with them during the mid 60’s. Though the book focuses on these depictions from the men, the film focuses on these stories through the eyes of a wife, played by the wonderful Jodie Comer. Through thick and thin, these bikers stick together and have the back of their leader, played by Tom Hardy. However, as times change and years pass, things change as more gangs form and become involved in criminal activity than the intention of the original core group. This movie is gritty, dirty, and has some killer cameos. Being a Jeff Nichols loyalist, I hope people watch this.
Well there you have it, my top 3 films of the festival for Telluride 2023. I feel as though the other films I saw could move around in my lineup of 3-9, but they are all worth seeing. The other films that were able to squeeze into the schedule were:
Anatomy of a Fall (dir. Justine Triet) …it’s Sandra Hüller’s year and we’re just living in it.
Poor Things (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
Wildcat (dir. Ethan Hawke)
The Royal Hotel (dir. Kitty Green)
Nyad (dir. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)
Rustin (dir. George C. Wolfe)
For a complete list of the program, visit this link. The festival is always a great experience. Is it an investment? Absolutely, but I will be going until there it is physically impossible for me to do so. Until then, see you next year, Telluride!