And The Oscar Race is On! Inside the Telluride Film Festival, Award Winning Flick Hotbed


For the last three years, the road to Oscar has started in Colorado—specifically at the Telluride Film Festival, where trophy winners Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and The Artist made their North American debuts. What movies, performances, and star sightings got the Industry crowd excited this Labor Day weekend? Chet Mehta, an L.A. publicist with insider access, fills us in from 9,500 hundred feet    

Photographs by Chet Mehta and Pamela Gentile

The 39th Telluride Film Festival kicked off Friday morning at the Annual Patron Brunch, where Ben Affleck, Alexander Payne, Laura Dern, Noah Baumbach and Gael Garcia Bernal mingled with festival directors Julie Huntsinger, Tom Luddy and Gary Meyer over a delicious menu prepared by Alice Waters.  

By 12:30, the brunch was deserted as everyone had flocked to the unofficial world premiere of Affleck’s Argo at the Chuck Jones’ Cinema. It played beautifully and was one of the most buzzed about films at the festival. Not only did he make a beautiful film as a director, but he also delivers an incredible performance as the film’s lead actor.

On Saturday I popped by The Hollywood Reporter and UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television party at the Arroyo Art Gallery and Wine Bar, where THR’s executive editor, Owen Phillips, and UCLA film school dean Teri Schwartz welcomed Laura Linney, festival honoree Roger Corman, The Sapphires director Wayne Blair, Ginger & Rosa star Alessandro Nivola. festival co-directors Julie Huntsinger and Tom Luddy, author and festival guest director Geoff Dyer, MOMA chief film curator Rajendra Roy, and Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent.

Sony Pictures Classics hosted a dinner at La Marmotte before the Marion Cotillard tribute at the Palm Theatre. The co-heads of the indie studio, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, were joined by Rust and Bone star Marion Cotillard, At Any Price star Dennis Quaid, No star Gael Garcia Bernal and director Pablo Larrain. 

On Sunday I kept busy with back-to-back screenings, starting at the Sheridan Opera House for a packed showing of The Gatekeepers, and then one of Frances Ha, where Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner (Sting’s daughter) were on hand to introduce the film with it’s director, Noah Baumbach. I skipped lunch to make it in time to catch The Sapphires, a feel good musical from Australia that’s sure to be a Golden Globes contender.

By 10 p.m., an exclusive mid-festival celebration sponsored by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group at the home of Joseph, Diane and Sarah Steinberg was well underway. Filmmakers and talent including Ray Liotta, Ariel Vromen, Ken Burns, and Mads Mikkelsen gathered over local artisanal cheeses.

I took a break from seeing films on Monday morning to hike up to Mountain Village, then stopped by the annual Labor Day picnic uptown to see my local friends and say goodbye until the same time next year.