The Telluride Film Festival kicks off its five-day annual event August 29, and the program, which was just released, is packed with so many book-related goodies that an attendee could target only those and never run out of literary material. For its fortieth anniversary this year, festival organizers invited back six of its past guest directors, including Salman Rushdie, who spoke with Word & Film Monday. Each returning guest artist – Don DeLillo, Phillip Lopate, B. Ruby Rich, Michael Ondaatje, Buck Henry, and Rushdie — selected an idiosyncratic short film program of his or her own. Below, we’ll lay out the treats in those selections as well as in the deep main program.
DeLillo (TFF 2006), whose 1988 novel Libra centered on Lee Harvey Oswald, has chosen to show the Zapruder Film, which captured the horrifying 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. The author will also read from his 1997 masterpiece Underworld, sit for a Q&A, and sign books.
Essayist, critic, poet and Notes on Sontag author Phillip Lopate (TFF 1995), whose work has appeared in Film Comment, The Paris Review, Conde Nast Traveler, and Esquire, will present the 1969 French drama “Naked Childhood.”
The English Patient author Michael Ondaatje (TFF 2010) has chosen to screen two extended shorts, including the mesmerizing 1962 Chris Marker film “La Jetée,” which inspired the brilliant 1995 Terry Gilliam thriller “12 Monkeys.”
Henry (TFF 2005), who adapted the Joseph Heller classic Catch-22 into a film in 1970 for Mike Nichols, will present the 1974 thriller “The Terminal Man,” which was adapted from the 1972 Michael Crichton novel.
Scholar and cultural commentator B. Ruby Rich (TFF 1996), who published Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement in 1998, chose the 1974 fiction-documentary hybrid “One Way or Another.”
The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie (TFF 2004) will present Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s 1963 work “Mahanagar,” which details the reverberations within a traditional Indian family once the young wife enters the work force.
From the main program:
“The Invisible Woman”
Ralph Fiennes directed and stars in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s 1990 nonfiction book about the secret affair between an eighteen-year-old actress and author Charles Dickens at the height of his fame in Victorian England. Abi Morgan (“Shame,” “The Iron Lady”) wrote the screenplay.
“Blue Is the Warmest Color”
Winner of the 2013 Palme d’Or in Cannes, this coming-of-age film was loosely inspired by the graphic novel written by French writer Julie Maroh, who later took issue with the film’s graphic treatment of lesbian sex. Recently stamped with an NC-17 rating in the States and praised for its raw acting (both its leads won prizes in Cannes) and true-to-life depiction of young love found and lost, the film was picked up by Sundance Selects for a late October release.
The latest from writer-director Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air,” “Juno”), this coming-of-age drama is adapted from the 2009 Joyce Maynard novel about what happens when a single mother and her pre-teen son inadvertently hook up with an escaped convict over a long weekend. Maynard will be in Telluride to present the film and sign books.
“Under the Skin”
Writer-director Jonathan Glazer (“Birth,” “Sexy Beast”) co-wrote and directed this adaptation of the satirical 2000 science fiction novel written by Michael Faber. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien wandering northern Scotland looking for humans to capture and send home, until she has an unexpected identity crisis.
“Slow Food Story”
This documentary details the birth and evolution of the Slow Food movement launched by Carlo Petrini, otherwise known as Carlin, twenty-five years ago and championed by modern chefs such as Alice Waters. On-hand to receive the first annual FOOD INC. Movement Award, Waters will also participate in a panel discussion on sustainability and consumption with Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan and Berlin International Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick.
John Curran (“The Painted Veil”) directed this true-life account of a woman who traversed 1,700 miles of Australian desert alone with just four camels and a dog over nine months in 1977. The woman, Robyn Davidson, wrote an article about the journey for National Geographic that she later spun into a memoir. Davidson will be on hand signing books.
Twenty-six-year-old Gia Coppola (niece of Sofia and granddaughter of Francis) makes her filmmaking debut with an adaptation of multi-hyphenate James Franco’s 2010 short story collection. The author appears in the film, which provides a panoramic take on the lives of lost teens with too much knowledge and zero emotional literacy.
“Before the Winter Chill”
Written and directed by author/filmmaker Philippe Claudel (“I’ve Loved You So Long”), this domestic thriller starring Kristin Scott-Thomas and Daniel Auteuil looks beneath the shiny surface of a well-burnished suburban couple’s relationship once another woman takes an interest in the husband. Claudel is a prize-winning Frenchman who has written the novels Grey Souls, Parfums and Brodeck.
This documentary details director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (“El Topo”) failed 1975 attempt to make a fourteen-hour film version of Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 novel Dune, the biggest-selling science fiction book in history. After optioning the rights, Jodorowsky apparently managed to get Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and Pink Floyd committed to collaborating on the project but never read the book. The free screening is part of the festival’s Backlot series, which focuses on behind-the-scenes accounts of artists at work.
Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s 1975 novel Rumble Fish, which was released just seven months after their collaboration on “The Outsiders,” will screen Thursday night at the outdoor Abel Gance Open Air Cinema. It’s paired with a new documentary called “Locations: Looking for Rusty James” made by Chilean filmmaker Alberto Fuguet that explores the under-appreciated movie’s exalted status among South American youth. Coppola, who received the festival’s very first tribute in 1974, will be on the ground with Fuguet in Telluride to introduce both films.