Film Scouts Diaries

1999 Telluride Film Festival Diaries
Rocky Mountain High Culture, Part 5

by Emmett Gray

Telluride, Colorado, September 5, 1999

There are only 1600 permanent residents here, and I'm a city boy, but still I'm getting attached to this little place. It must be the hippest tiny town between the Mississippi and the Pacific coast. The high school, in whose gymnasium the Festival's largest screening room is found, has graduating class pictures dating back 75 years or so, and even in the last few years there might be only 5 students. There is a certain cowboy and ski bum element, but there's a good bookstore where they serve a very respectable espresso (and in china, not in paper or styrofoam), there are several fine restaurants, some decent coffee shops and bakeries, a vegetarian deli/market, and other signs of civilization. Best is the total lack of chains or franchises - other than gas stations, almost every establishment I've run across is of local origin.

I should mention that the phrase "high school gym" associated with a screening room gives the wrong impression as far as Telluride is concerned. You wouldn't know it was a gym walking in there. Since the Festival pre-dated the high school, the Festival worked with the architect and provided funds to design a space which could serve as the Festival's main screening room. There's a good projection booth, and for screenings they carpet the floor, drape the walls, and haul in a state-of-the-art Dolby Digital sound rig. The acoustics are perfect, very dry and quiet and not at all what one might expect to find in a high school building.

The Philip Glass tribute happened tonight, hosted by Peter Sellars, in the old Opera House, an authentic relic from the Gold Rush boom days. There were clips from Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time, The Secret Agent, Misihma, Hamburger Hill, Kundun, and, finally, Anima Mundi was shown in its entirety (it's only 30 minutes long). Sellars was very animated and amusing, but the funniest moment was when Glass said that he's never worked on a film that the director thought was finished. "Directors never finish films," he said, "they just abandon them when the time and money run out."

Both Sellars and Glass saluted the Festival by stating that neither of them could imagine having such prominence at any other film festival, since they are from alien branches of the art world, and they appreciate very much this embracing aspect of Telluride.

Previous Installment

Back to Telluride Film Festival Diaries

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.