September 3, 2010 / 4:07 PM / 9 years ago

Top directors headlining Telluride film fest

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Directors Peter Weir, Danny Boyle, Mark Romanek and Errol Morris will headline the Telluride Film Festival, the annual Labor Day holiday weekend event that kicks off Friday in the Colorado mountain resort.

Director Danny Boyle arrives at the 62nd Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles January 30, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go,” based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, will screen Friday night. Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan star in the film, which Fox Searchlight will also show at next week’s Toronto film festival before a theatrical release September 15.

Later Friday, Morris will unveil his documentary “Tabloid,” about the bizarre case of former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney, before it also moves on to Toronto.

Though Boyle will officially be on hand to present a special Sunday screening of his 2005 film “Millions,” it is widely expected that he will also sneak in his new film “127 Hours” ahead of its Toronto berth. Fox Searchlight has a November theatrical release scheduled for the drama, which stars James Franco as a hiker trapped under a boulder.

Films such as “Juno” (2007), “Up in the Air” (2009) and “Slumdog,” which Boyle and Fox Searchlight brought to Telluride in 2008, all went on to high-profile awards recognition. Telluride’s programmers consider this nothing more than a nice coincidental bonus.

“We’ve had some pretty good luck with these things,” said Julie Huntsinger, one of Telluride’s programmers. “I must tell you, I think it’s going to happen again (this year). There are a couple of things that I think people are going to embrace.”

Though Huntsinger wouldn’t “confirm or deny” whether “127 Hours” or Darren Aronofsky’s recent Venice premiere “Black Swan” will show up in Telluride, the programmers always leave two or three slots in the schedule open for last-minute surprises. The fest slipped in “Paranormal Activity” last year, lighting the fuse of the film’s shocking box office success (ultimately $193 million worldwide), and there is a juicy TBA slot on the schedule for Saturday night.

Weir will be in town to receive one of the festival’s special tributes, which will highlight the career that produced “The Last Wave,” “Witness,” “Dead Poet’s Society,” “Fearless” and “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

In addition to a screening of his 1979 movie “The Plumber,” the fest will screen his latest film, “The Way Back,” which features Ed Harris, Mark Strong and Colin Farrell as soldiers who escape a Siberian gulag in 1940 and walk all the way to India. That the movie has yet to secure a distributor provides the festival with the opportunity to play booster.

“We realize that (the festival) tends to set off a very nice buzz for a lot of these films,” said Huntsinger. “And with ‘The Way Back,’ it’s quintessentially Telluride — it’s brilliant, it’s bold, it’s not something that is easily packaged. We love Peter Weir so much, we’ve long wanted to tribute him. When we first saw it, we called right away and said, ‘Whatever we have to do, we want to secure this now.’”

Audiences will also get a sneak peak at honoree Colin Firth’s new movie, “The King’s Speech,” which the Weinstein Co. will release in November after its Toronto screening. Yet another honoree, 72-year-old Italian film siren Claudia Cardinale, will be represented by her 1961 film “Girl With the Suitcase” Saturday night.

A frequent patron of Telluride, Sony Pictures Classics is screening Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Charles Ferguson’s “Inside Job” and Stephen Frears’ “Tamara Drewe,” all of which played Cannes and are scheduled for fall releases. Sylvain Chomet’s latest animated marvel “The Illusionist,” which had its world premiere in Berlin and which Sony Classics will release December 25, is in the Telluride program as well.

Martin Scorsese will screen his Elia Kazan documentary “A Letter to Elia”; Werner Herzog, who last year presented “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” returns with his latest documentary, “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga”; and Ken Burns will bring “The Tenth Inning,” a four-hour addendum to his 1994 PBS series “Baseball,” which played at Telluride.

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