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Telluride Forges Bonds, Affleck's 'Argo' Hits, Burns and Loyola Marymount Launch Doc Grad Program

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 2, 2012 at 5:00PM

Telluride is a place where people get to know each other. Without Telluride, I would not have dug into the Sight & Sound Top 50 with Alexander Payne (at the annual opening day Patron's Brunch), who agrees with me that "Citizen Kane" should be number one, not "Vertigo," and that Akira Kurosawa is the greatest filmmaker who ever lived.
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Christian Petzold and Ben Affleck
Christian Petzold and Ben Affleck

Telluride is a place where people get to know each other. Without Telluride, I would not have dug into the Sight & Sound Top 50 with Alexander Payne (at the annual opening day Patron's Brunch), who agrees with me that "Citizen Kane" should be number one, not "Vertigo," and that Akira Kurosawa is the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. He told me that Kurosawa in the 50s was among the first to use multiple cameras. We also agree on how well "High and Low" holds up over time.

Ken Burns and Steve Ujlaki
Ken Burns and Steve Ujlaki

Payne even admitted that he's seeing Tarkovsky's "Stalker" here for the first time, which I have also missed. Even though Payne is prepping to shoot long-in-the-works "Nebraska" next month--a road movie crossing multiple states--he wouldn't miss Telluride for the world. He also introduced an Italian classic, "I Knew Her Well," and enjoyed hanging with Laura Dern, who starred in his 1996 film "Citizen Ruth."

That is my idea of a good time. But so is sitting at a table with Mark Cousins (who gave me his History of Film DVD set), TOH's Meredith Brody, Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, and guest director Geoff Dyer. How cool is that?

And Ben Affleck--in advance of unveiling "Argo" for the first time--admitted that he was worried about all the buzz building expectations on the film. He needn't have fussed. The movie is the hit of Telluride--more than "Hyde Park on Hudson," whose star Bill Murray arrived Saturday. Tributee Mads Mikkelsen doesn't arrive until after my Saturday Q & A with "The Royal Affair" director Nicolaj Arcel. But I should get him on the flipcam this weekend.

Another example of bonds forged at Telluride are documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and Steve Ujlaki, Dean of the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University, who years after meeting at the fest announced here the creation of a graduate documentary film program at Loyola. A pilot program with current graduate students is being launched in the spring of 2013, and the first cohort is expected to begin in 2014. The program, housed in the School of Film and Television, will focus on historical documentaries.

Burns’ new documentary, "Central Park Five," which debuted at Cannes, played well at the Sheridan Opera House on Friday, August 31.

“Ken’s philosophy directly aligns with LMU’s mission of social justice,” said Ujlaki. “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have our students learn from.” Burns said he was looking forward to working with the next generation of documentary filmmakers, both on campus and through onsite visits to Florentine Films.

This article is related to: Festivals, Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, Documentary, Documentaries, Festivals, News


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.