Film Scouts Diaries

1999 Telluride Film Festival Diaries
Rocky Mountain High Culture, Part 2

by Emmett Gray

Telluride, Colorado, September 2, 1999

Today the sun came out, which was a welcome change for the soggy locals. It's been raining for 5 weeks. This has been good for the grass and especially the mushrooms. I ran into chef-writer Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse fame, a regular here, and she said she's never seen such an abundance of chanterelles. This thought was echoed by Bertrand Marchal, chef of La Marmotte, an excellent local bistro, who joked that he was thinking of paying for a trip to New York by going there with a garbage bag full. Chanterelles fetch $15 a pound in the city, but people here are almost getting sick of them - acres of them, you end up just walking on them.

I attended a pleasantly small pre-festival-opening party at the home of Ron and Joyce Allred, owners of the ski resort and sustainers of the Festival. Guests included David Lynch, who's being honored, Philip Glass, another honoree, Peter Sellars (the Guest Director this year), Ken Burns, Werner Herzog, Stan Brakhage, the Kronos Quartet, and a smattering of other musicians including Peter Yarrow, a Telluride resident, who sang new and old songs after dessert - "We Shall Overcome" and "Puff the Magic Dragon" were sing-alongs that made me kind of misty (I'm a 60's guy). Festival co-directors Bill Pence and Tom Luddy were there of course, and made some speeches honoring the hosts for their commitment to the festival, with Bill joking that their support has "...kept us gasping" (I was gasping a little myself due to the altitude). Pence said that the festival was on the verge of leaving Telluride after the first couple of years, but Ron and Joyce stepped up to the (dinner) plate and heaped it with a generous helping of bacon - the bring home kind. They also helped to convince other locals that the Festival was a good thing for the town, and so it has endured.

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