Film Scouts Diaries

1999 Telluride Film Festival Diaries
Rocky Mountain High Culture, Part 3

by Emmett Gray

Telluride, Colorado, September 3, 1999

Last night there was a dusting of snow on on the peaks surrounding the town, and the view from my room in the morning was pure magic. Even better than a postcard.

Today the Festival officially began. This festival has an egalitarian air, and the opening cookout, held right in the middle of Main Street which was blocked off, was typical of the spirit. Stars, patrons, staff, and guests all stood in the same lines and sat on the same curb or ate standing up. The rules for screenings are: no saving of places in line, saving of seats, or latecomers. Seats are first-come-first served, with reservations only for those involved in the picture being presented. Telluride is small enough so that a policy like this can work.

Seen at the party, in addition to those from the night before, were Godfrey Reggio, the director of Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Anima Mundi, who is here reviewing work by young filmmakers; Richard Farnsworth, star of Lynch's film "The Straight Story" which sort of opens the festival (it's hard to tell exactly when it starts); Bill Viola; Brazilian director Carlos Diegues, here with "Orfeu" which has been a sensation in Brazil and will now get US distribution; and Amos Gitai, director of "Kadosh".

I went to see "The Straight Story" and loved it. Although for the first third of the picture, I couldn't help thinking, on the back burner, "How's he going to keep this interesting..." I gave in to the slow pace and lyrical flow and was won over. It's a new side of Lynch, and I was moved - I won't call it a tear-jerker, but it stirs the emotions with its central theme of brotherhood and family.

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