In one week, I leave for the glorious, thin-air nirvana of Telluride, Colo., where the best film festival in the world blooms as prettily as mountain delphinium every Labor Day weekend. This will be my third time there (second as a volunteer), and each year is an adrenaline shot to the heart. My first time at Telluride (in 2004 as part of its student symposium), I lunched privately with Joan Allen, Todd Solondz, Ken Burns and Tom Shadyac; I spilled my goddamn guts to Roger Ebert on the 10-minute walk from Main Street to his lodgings; I sat in the front row of a 100-seat opera house for the world premiere of Yes and watched Being Julia al fresco as shooting stars streaked across the velvet-black sky. Last year, I saw 15 movies, including Volver and The Last King of Scotland, before there was any buzz for either (I also served popcorn to both movies' stars, long before they were being touted for the Oscar noms they'd eventually get). Both years I got to see movies that would never make it to theaters -- brilliant student prints, movies that would only show in Los Angeles, obscure foreign dramas that had no chance of finding distribution.
In short, Telluride is a dream. It's the only marquee festival that's just for cinephiles. There are no junkets, no press conferences, no awards, no wheelings and dealings. The film list isn't announced until the day the festival starts, so attendees have to rely on the discriminating tastes of the selection committee (although I have confirmation of at least one movie on the docket: Barbet Schroeder's doc Terror's Advocate). The tiny town is located in a tiny enclave in the southwest corner of Colorado, so you need to be wealthy enough to buy transportation, lodging and a festival pass, or savvy and passionate enough to worm your way into the volunteering ranks. If you do, you'll mingle on Main Street with Meryl, Pedro and Werner. You'll gorge yourself on up to six movies a day -- most are North American premieres, some are restored retrospectives, some are accompanied live by the wonderful Alloy Orchestra. Okay, that's it, I'm getting aroused.
Telluride is a busy time for a volunteer, but I will blog when I can (as I did last year). It'll start a week from today. So stay tuned. In between, the Triple Crowners series will continue, as will the usual grabass.