Telluride Film Festival 2014, excerpts ~ a visual diary

“At last she was going to know the joys of love, the fever of the happiness she had despaired of. She was entering a marvelous realm where all would be passion, ecstasy, rapture: she was in the midst of an endless blue expanse, scaling the glittering heights of passion; everyday life had receded, and lay far below, in the shadows between those peaks.” ~ Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

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Above ~ the view from our deck, through rose-colored glasses.

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There are so many ways to tell the story of this weekend, as many ways as there are guests, and as many perspectives as there are moods. I am a chronicler of experiences, and usually I do this through images, capturing a moment, that is in fact far away from my everyday rituals. Like the quote above, encounters in alternate spaces, whether with friends or through films, give us delight, at times transcendence, and this is what Telluride is for me ~ a moment of significance that happens almost outside of real time.  This year, I was more “present” than usual, so the pictures I took are scarce, at times random, not in any way exhaustive, and some snapshots were even taken by others ~ the image to the left by Alex Black (using a Pentax 635z). Choices need to be made (and at times made for us!) so for the countless things that are seen and experienced, there are just as many missed, now on my list of to-do and can’t wait to see. Here is one of many possible stories that conjure these few days ~ quotes that entered my mind, conversations heard, ideas conveyed. Through the films we saw, the food we ate, and the friends we gathered around ~ here is a moment in time frozen, remembered, cherished.


“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
~ Virginia Woolf


Thursday ~ From “here”/ Sheridan Bar to THERE ~

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Above, at THERE ~ with Bob Hillman, Jason Silverman, Joey Xanders and Alex Black.


Friday ~ Brunch (below) and the farmer’s market, ending the evening with a gondola ride in the dark after seeing seeing Xavier Dolan’s Mommy.

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Above ~ Alice Waters, with porcini. Domaine Tempier. Chanterelles w/ linguini for our first dinner, with Ken Friedman and Josh Marston.


“How are you going to live your dash?” ~ Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss

Saturday ~ From an early morning screening of Mike Leigh’s masterpiece Mr. Turner ~ a beautiful portrait of layers of relationships unfolding, and the New York Review of Books documentary The 50 Year Argument to Ethan Hawk’s Seymour and seeing the Q&A of Keep On, Keepin On, (both intimate documentaries of inspiring musicians/teachers), we ended the evening with drinks at 221 South Oak and a late night screening of Ramin Bahrani’s brilliant, devastating and tightly woven (especially through its soundtrack) 99 Homes.

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Above ~ top / Bob Silvers and Mark Danner; Mark, Josh Shapiro, Mirissa Neff. Mark and I, post-screening. middle / Josh Marston moderating the conversation with Seymour Bernstein and Ethan Hawke; Seymour and I; Josh, Ethan and I (I had to:) ~ Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight is still one of my favorite trilogies of all times. bottom / Quincy Jones before the Q&A with pianist Justin Kaulflin far left. Director Al Hicks, Quincy and Justin in conversation. Clark Terry captured on my iPhone, from Keep On Keepin’ On screened under the moonlight in Elks Park.


Who are our mentors, our teachers? We all have them, and we look to them for life balance, for understanding who we are,and why we are. The Q&A for Ethan Hawke’s Seymour, moderated by film-maker Josh Marston, was a beautiful interwoven moment that touched on how we are moved to make and do ~ to teach, inspire, and continually be inspired. How does the me that I am correlate with the me who does what I do? “Ethan the actor and Ethan the person should be the same…At 85, how do you hold on to that… and if I could give other people the experience I had with you….” This was Ethan talking about his initial meeting with Seymour (the subject of his documentary who he met at a dinner party) and his goal with the film. And that is the question many of us ask ~ how can you make your job integrated with yourself as a person. If we in fact have many roles in society ~ as mother and wife, as designer, writer, anthropologist ~ which one is the real me? And how can these many identities and ways of living them integrate and balance themselves out? It’s the continual struggle to connect the personal and the professional, bringing one’s art into the every day. When asked about mentors Ethan referred to that poignant moment in Dead Poet’s Society when they are discovering Walt Whitman and Mr Keating writes on the board ~ “I sound my barbaric yawp”… I had just watched that film a few days before departing for Telluride, and thought of it as capturing a moment in time in my life (just like Before Sunrise), and when I listened to Ethan say the line, I could see both he the actor and he the person merge into the same being. It was kind of wonderful. And with Seymour, there was the same merging when he said, “the reason why I love to teach is because I want to make all of you feel good about yourselves. When you make someone feel good about themselves ~ that feeds back to you tenfold.” That type of collaboration, and capturing those moments both through the film, and on stage in the Q&A is what makes Telluride so special. And to see Josh Marston, who is a master at pulling out those moments of “truth” from his actors in 2004’s Maria Full of Grace (with Catalina Sandino Moreno) and 2012’s The Forgiveness of Blood, engage in conversation with Ethan and Seymour and elicit such a powerful story of process and meaning, is truly inspirational….



“The stars we are given. The constellations we make.  That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.” ~ Rebecca Solnitt

Sunday ~ Alejandro Inarritu’s phenomenal black comedy Birdman, which really split audiences down the middle ~ loving and hating it. I loved it! Robert Altman’s California Split which totally captured the addiction of gambling, as well as that moment in film history ~ a real treat.  Andrey Zvyagientsev’s Leviathan ~ another masterpiece in story-telling.

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Above ~ an image remembered from last year, of Birdman’s Alejandro Inarritu. Post-Leviathan screening, a drive up to the Chuck Jones and then descending back to town. A moment captured and tweeted by Scott Foundas ~ “Only in Telluride: homemade tacos whipped up by Alice Waters for festival tributee Volker Schlondorff.”


“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” ~ Susan Sontag

Monday ~ Labor Day picnic, a trip to Guy and Jeanine Saperstein’s ranch, Morten Tyldem’s The Imitation Game, cocktails and cheese at the Sheridan Bar with Kristin Becker, dinner with the Criterion gang, 221 South Oak, and Monique’s gathering of friends at Oak to end the evening, and the festival.

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Above collage ~ the picnic, grape soda that reminded me of my childhood in Leominster; a group shot with Kitchen Sisters’ Davia Nelson, Keep On Keepin’ On’s director Al Hicks, and Alexander Payne. Ken Burns on Main Street with his books. Shoes from Two Skirts. A view of Wilson Peek from Guy’s ranch (aka the Coors beer mountain); Josh and Peter Becker talking Phantom drones with its owner. Our last supper with the Criterion Collection gang. 221 South Oak.


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Above ~ portraits by Alex Black ~ Josh and Mirissa, Fandor’s Jonathan Marlow, Ximena Schyfter, Josh and I.


“He liked the fragility of those moments suspended in time. Those memories whose only function is to leave just a trace in memory.” ~ Chris Marker


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** For reviews of Telluride Film Festival 2014, see Scott Foundas in dialogue with Justin Chang for Variety or A.O. Scott for the NYT.

**Some films on my list of “to do” because I missed ~ Re-watch Ellie Coppola’s Hearts of Darkness, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Joshua Oppenheimer’s Look of Silence, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Wim Wenders’ The Salt of the Earth, Gina Leibrecht and Les Blank’s How to Smell a Rose: A Visit with Ricky Leacock in Normandy and I’m most excited to seek out Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales!

** Films are my first love, and I admit I find it difficult at this point in my life to get through books:( but after meeting up with my friend Vendela, I’ve been inspired to hunt these down  ~  Rachel Kushner’s (who I met at the Sheridan Bar) The Flamethrowers, Vendela’s The Lovers. I adore her other novels Girls on the Verge, And Now You Can Go and Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name. I also want to re-read Dave Eggers A Heart-breaking Work of Staggering Genius, and The Circle which was given to me by Tom Luddy and Monique Montgomery for my 42nd birthday last year. Also planned for this week ~ a Richard Linklater marathon of his trilogy (and to me) masterpiece… Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

**Also,  Check out senior curator of TFF Gary Meyers’ EatDrinkFilm blog, especially Meredith Brody’s wonderful interview and eating session with CHEF’S Jon Favreau! I picked this interview by Meredith in particular because of my little moment at Pixar with Jon which ties in with last year’s foraging in Telluride

** Finally, to see the whole program, get your ticket for next year, apply with a film or for the student symposium, check out the TFF website.

A huge thank you to the whole crew behind the scenes that make this possible for everyone to come together every year; in particular for me ~
Tom Luddy, Julie Huntsinger and Alice Waters.

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