by Gary Meyer
Labor Day, 1975. I had heard so much about this unique little festival in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado after their first year that it seemed I could not miss it. The second festival featured a selection of new international movies and a healthy menu of classics including silents with live music plus tributes to classic American director Henry King, actor Jack Nicholson, and German director Werner Herzog. It proved to be a weekend full of great movies and an opportunity to meet not only other film lovers but the artists themselves away from any hint of Hollywood hype.
Each year it seemed to get better. I was asked to do an occasional program. My favorite was collaborating with John Waters on a show about gimmicks in movies with a focus on our hero, William Castle.
In 1998 brought the most wonderful surprise imaginable when I was asked to join the festival’s directors Tom Luddy, Bill and Stella Pence to program the 25th Anniversary Festival and I have been at it ever since. Clearly the annual event has become more high profile as filmmakers from around the globe compete for the 25 spots for new features. We turn down at least as many superb movies as we accept while looking for a balance that can’t really be explained. It just comes together after a lot of thought and discussion in figuring out the Show. We must be able to stand behind every choice.
The Telluride program is kept a secret until the eve of the Festival. While many wonderful, film-loving members of the press attend, the lack of advance announcement keeps the paparazzi away and as a result the filmmakers, actors and writers feel comfortable hanging out, meeting people on the street and getting into long conversations.
My favorite moments are when I introduce a film from a new filmmaker or a lost classic and look out to see a dozen of the world’s great cinema talents in the audience coming to see this movie because they love cinema.
There is also a large format magazine, Film Watch, with fascinating stories by and about the filmmakers that can be read here.
We can’t wait for audiences to discover the great work filmmakers have created this year.