Monday, September 14, 2015

Telluride Film Festival, Part 1

I've screened my animated shorts at the Telluride Festival about 5 times, 4 times in the normal festival and once at the Telluride MountainFilm Festival.  My first time there was around 1989, when I showed "How to Kiss" and it was a real mind-blower.  Not only were the films and the audiences wonderful, but the location was utterly spectacular. 

And it seemed like all of the big Hollywood directors and stars were there - and that was where I met the great animator, Chuck Jones, who was an important part of the festival.

After the festival, I made a specific note to return to Telluride, however after entering new films, year after year, I kept getting rejected.  It wasn't until 2010 that I made my return with my short "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger".  It felt great to be back, and now I've been going there a lot more frequently - thank God.

It's still one of the primo festivals in the world.  I wasn't able to see many film this time, because of my social schedule.  I was there to do some business - and even though Telluride discourages agents, lawyers, corporate executives and distributors, I was able to make some valuable business connections. 

                         With my old friend, Tom Noonan, and my new friend, Charlie Kaufman.

The highlight for me was the Academy of Motion Pictures party - it was like going to an Oscar party, with Danny Boyle, Sid Ganis, Todd Haynes, Rooney Mara and Charlie Kaufman in attendance.  I saw Kate Winslet flirting with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and after a few drinks, I had enough guts to introduce myself to one of my favorite comedic actors, Seth Rogen. 

 Fortunately, he turned out to be a big fan of my work and he was very friendly - but then, he was friendly to everyone.  I mentioned to him that I have a new script for an animated short, and his voice would be perfect for it - and he seemed excited.

One thing that confuses me about Telluride - they just opened a new, large cinema, the Werner Herzog Theater. (seats 650 people)  Why name it after Werner Herzog?  Sure, he comes to the festival a lot and he has made some nice films, but there are certainly other filmmakers who have larger reputations and are more frequent guests.  To me, the real problem with Werner is - he hates films.  I talked to him and asked him about the fact that he never watches movies and only sees about 4 films a year!  He confirmed that fact and said that he doesn't like the films that are coming out these days.

Now, maybe he was putting me on and trying to make a joke, but I've heard this about him from other people.  If any of you blog-readers out there are friends with Werner Herzog, please set me straight.  In any case, it seems to me to be an insult to cinema to name a theater after a guy who hates watching films. 

                     With famed animator Richard Williams, promoting his new short, "Prologue".

I'll have more on Telluride in my next blog - in the meantime, you can check out the Telluride experiences of my executive producer, James Hancock, here:

--Bill P.

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