By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 3, 2009 at 3:56AM
Thursday morning I'll greet the charter shuttle folks at LAX as we head for the Rocky Mountains for the Labor Day Weekend four-day film rituals at Telluride. We're not supposed to know what the films are in advance (this is how the fest gets away with unannounced debuts) but there will likely be some Cannes holdovers (White Ribbon, Bright Star, A Prophet), some new entries (Bad Lieutenant, The Road, Life During Wartime, Up in the Air) and as always, a strong selection of rare classics, smart panels and tributes. This year the 36th fest will sing the praises of the late critic Manny Farber with a critics' panel and showing one of his fave films, and Alexander Payne serves as guest director, underwritten by a $50,000 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Last year David Fincher debuted Benjamin Button and Danny Boyle brought Slumdog Millionaire. It's cool to be the among the first to discover a great movie and talk to a filmmaker at the start of a long trajectory, before they get their patter down. The year before, Jason Reitman was at Telluride with Juno, and is likely to be there again. I've been following Reitman's tweets about finishing Up in the Air. Tonight he wrote, simply: "It's done."
[Photo: Last year's Labor Day picnic director's panel with me, Paul Schrader, Nandita Das, Danny Boyle, Jan Troell and Ari Folman.]
We'll get the schedule on the plane; then we can plot our screening strategy. Co-directors Tom Luddy and Gary Meyer purposely book the biggest titles opposite each other to encourage people to go to the smaller films. Ken Burns, Roger Ebert, George Lucas, Werner Herzog, Peter Bogdanovich, Leonard Maltin and Laura Linney are among Telluride regulars. The old mining town turned ski resort has a relaxed, summer camp atmosphere, as filmmakers, actors, and cinephiles from all over the country return, happy to stand in line with family, strangers or friends, whether it's hot, cold, wet or dry. One sunny afternoon I went in to see The House of Flying Daggers and emerged in a snow storm. In the mountains, anything is possible.
I'll be posting news, reviews, and interviews (some on the flip-cam) as I get them.