In retrospect, my first full film festival day at Telluride, though utterly delightful, sounds more like I’m attending a food festival than a film one.
I’m in line by 9:30 a.m. to get on a bus that hauls us up high in the Rockies to attend the Patron’s Brunch, whose glorious mountain-meadow setting and bountiful buffet I look forward to all year. Alice Waters, co-director Tom Luddy’s old friend and colleague – they drew the name for the famed Chez Panisse from the Marcel Pagnol films that Tom was projecting in 16mm at their dinner parties – is responsible for the “everything fresh and local” philosophy. I staggered to a table, laden down with one plate bearing silky smoked Colorado salmon on a properly schmeared bagel, topped with tomato, red onion, and the surprise of spicy cress, and another laden with tender greens, sliced ripe tomatoes, exemplary fruit salad, cheesy frittata, pork and herbed chicken sausages, and grilled toast topped with hand-churned butter and two spreads made from local peaches and berries. Oh. My. God. (I was too lazy to stand in line at the egg-cooked-to-order station. I regret that decision in retrospect, but I was getting plenty to eat.)
Mark Cousins, here with his personal essay film “What is this Film Called Love?” after last year’s triumphal international festival tour with the 15-hour documentary “The Story of Film,” that began in Telluride, followed Anne Thompson and me to a somewhat slanted but blue-checked-clothed table on the lower meadow, and the random-seating gods smiled at us, because we were joined by Bay Area litterateurs Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, and Guest Director Geoff Dyer and his wife, gallerist Rebecca Wilson. Eggers, more famed now as an author (“A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”), publisher (McSweeney’s), and sreenwriter (“Away We Go,” with wife Vendela Vida, and “Where the Wild Things Are”), began his career as a graphic artist, and he designed this year’s poster for Telluride, with a silhouetted bear filming a moose. (Little did he know it, but this year has been heavy on bear sightings, and we are warned after late-night screenings to walk home down the well-lit main street rather than take shortcuts through back alleys.)
If you wonder about the conversation of these highflown litterateurs, it tended towards exclamations of pleasure and occasional confusion as they examined the contents of their heavily-stuffed swag bags (yet another reason to purchase a Patron’s pass, along with priority entrance to screenings, obviating not only long waits in line but also any fear of being turned away, especially at the smaller venues). Vendela generously gifted me with her one-pound box of See’s chocolates, which I knew would delight my See’s-loving housemate Hilary Hart, who returns to the SHOW every year to help manage the Galaxy.
I was having so much fun bumping into old friends like Serge Bromberg, in Telluride to present his program of film rarities, “Retour du Flammes,”; Eugene Hernandez and Scott Foundas of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, both glowing with pride about the unusually dense and exciting programming for this year’s New York Film Festival in honor of its fiftieth anniversary; and screenwriter Larry Gross, with wife Rose Kuo, Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and their son Julian -- not to mention lamping celebrities such as Laura Linney, there for “Hyde Park on Hudson,” Sally Potter, with one of the stars of “Ginger and Rosa,” Alessandro Nivola, and Ben Affleck (thereby giving away the Sneak Preview of “Argo”) -- that I only tore myself away moments before the wedding of Paolo Cherchi Usai, longtime friend of Telluride, Senior Curator of Motion Pictures and Director of the L. Jeffrey School of Film Preservation of George Eastman House, as well as co-founder of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival.