Show Report

The Telluride (Colorado) Film Festival

July, 2007

Rick Schmidt


There are literally hundreds of film festivals in the world each year. If you hadn't spent all your money on your home theater system, you could have spent it traveling to an endless festival of your own making. But the term 'Film Festival' probably brings up a pretty short list in your mind: Sundance, Slamdance, Cannes,  Toronto, and maybe, Telluride.

Telluride is simply the least known great festival. Tucked into the most beautiful corner of Colorado, jammed into Labor Day weekend, it's packed Friday to Monday with the best films. We have attended several of the Telluride festivals, with the 2007 festival to be held August 31 - September 3.

Here's a list of some of the films that made their world or US debut at Telluride since 2001:

City of God
Spirited Away
Talk to Her
The Fog of War
Lost in Translation
House of Flying Daggers
Brokeback Mountain
The Lives of Others
Last King of Scotland

Often the director, writers, producers, and actors are present to introduce the films and take questions afterwards. Shown below are Mark Ruffalo and Gus van Sant (first photo), Michael Moore (second photo), and Daryl Hannah (third photo). These photos were taken by Ray Keller, Producer and Director of Generosity, an independent film on which we have just completed the principal photography, and which I will be describing how we produced in upcoming articles. That's right, you are going to see - step by step - how a movie is made, right here at Secrets.

Seeing a movie at its Telluride premier, months before its an Oscar contender at the Cineplex does more than make you an expert on all the best movies. Seeing movies in a packed theater, along with your fellow film enthusiasts, each of you enjoying absolutely pristine projection and sound is not the same as seeing it at the mall with obnoxious advertising beforehand and rude cell phone users along with movie-talkers wasting your $10 for you.

The two experiences need to be called by different words. One is a limo ride, the other is a bus ride. The other advantage specific to Telluride, where so many major films are seen for the first time, is that you can avoid the cynicism of the press and SPOILERS. Brokeback Mountain premiered at Telluride, the blurb in the schedule said something about two lifelong friends, directed by Ang Lee, etc., and I tried not to read it anyway. My experience of that film was completely different than those who saw it later after being told what to think by the hordes of media hopeful for controversy. This is a principle well understood by fellow movie goers at Telluride.

There is lots of movie talk with some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but it's been my experience that everyone is careful not to reveal the plot surprises, or much of anything about a film you're interested in. Indeed, the festival itself has the same attitude, and the program for the festival is not revealed until the night before it begins.

There are also wonderful shorts and student films as well as brilliant selected oldies. There is, in fact, too much to see no matter how fast you can run between theaters. Given the considerable expense (passes are $340 or $680 or more if you have money to spare), the heartbreak of Telluride is that you cannot get to all of the things you would like to. I used to manage this by trying to see the things that didn't look like they were headed to a theater near me, the smaller films, and the wonderful reprints of oldies. I have since succumbed to the confectionary nature of seeing films with the best possible projection and sound, and I go to what looks best.

I've attended many festivals, and in my experience, Telluride is the only one where the presentation gets such loving attention. This is the festival that will show you what film is capable of and what you should strive for at home.

Dolby sends their own technicians to help tweak the sound at Telluride, and the ones I've talked to didn't even attend any films, they were just there to make the sound the best it could be.

One film a night shows at an outdoor theater (free!) in the center of town. Here were some folks (I don't know if they were from Dolby) using an SPL for setup.

A high school gymnasium is converted to a theater, so how many 18" woofers does it take to fill a gymnasium?

And how many amplifiers do you need to drive all of that?

Telluride is a fantastic film festival. We hope that soon, we will be exhibiting our own film, Generosity, which we will be talking about here at Secrets in future articles. So, if you want to see how a movie is made from start to finish, stay tuned!

- Rick Schmidt -

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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