Denmark will choose among young filmmaker Nicolaj Arcel's historic romantic triangle "A Royal Affair," which won awards at Berlin for best screenplay and actor (newcomer Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, as the loony but sympathetic king), and films from two Oscar-winners, Susanne Bier (romance "Love is All You Need," starring Pierce Brosnan, acquired by SPC) and Bille August (period drama "Marie Kroyer"). A Danish Film Institute/film industry committee will name the final Danish Oscar submission on September 18. Last year, Bier's "In a Better World" won the best foreign language Oscar; 23 years ago August won for "Pele The Conqueror."
"A Royal Affair," which is a huge hit in Denmark, and its high cheek-boned star, Telluride tributee Mads Mikkelsen, wowed audiences at the Colorado fest. Mikkelson's Cannes-winner for best actor, "The Hunt," also played well but won't open in Denmark until 2013. (Magnolia picked up both films.)
Israel's pick for the Oscars is usually its Ophir winner; Israeli animated doc "Waltz with Bashir" was nominated in 2009. Dror Moreh's extraordinary Shin Bet expose "The Gatekeepers," one of the outstanding hits of the festival, was one of a series of movies, like "Argo" and Palestinian film "The Attack," that were set in the Middle East or dealt with some form of terrorism. So far Sony Pictures Classics, which picked up "The Gatekeepers" right before the fest, is planning to open the film in the new year, but may change its mind.
Playing to mixed response at Venice and/or Telluride were Millennium's "The Iceman," which earned approval for Michael Shannon's performance as a cold-blooded hitman and Sally Potter's gorgeously shot 60s family drama "Ginger and Rosa," starring an incandescent Elle Fanning, which is perfectly calibrated for the Sony Pictures Classics boomer art house crowd (SPC has handled several Potter films and invited her to their Friday night dinner). TWC's Australian Vietnam era music picture "The Sapphires" played well, and Chris O'Dowd earned praise. A possible tweener is SPC's "At Any Price," an oddly calibrated midwestern farm drama starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as troubled father and son, which marks indie Ramin Bahrani's awkward transition to mainstream fare. And SPC's "Rust and Bone" may prove more a critical than audience pleaser; France will choose between submitting that and heart-warming hit "The Intouchables," whose star Omar Sy beat Jean Dujardin at the Cesars; the film performed well stateside through TWC.
All in all it was yet another top-notch Telluride, impeccably programmed. The only complaint, voiced by many, was that some of the most popular films, perhaps unexpectedly, wound up in the smaller venues with passholders lined up around the block and patrons scoring the too few seats.