Telluride Film Festival 2019

Poster by Edwina White

Exclusive to MeierMovies, 2019

The 46th annual Telluride Film Festival is set for August 30 – September 2, 2019, in the little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. I’ll be attending for the first time. Stay tuned to this page for updates throughout the festival, including photos and film recommendations. Updates will be posted in chronological order below, with the newest content at the top. And don’t miss my wrap-up article and fall movie preview, which will appear in the The Orlando Weekly on September 25. And as the films get general releases in the coming months, I will be publishing full reviews here, and in the OW and other Euclid Media papers. (For more festival information, visit

Monday, September 2

The Two Popes, with Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins

The final day of the festival used to be a sleepy one, with most people leaving town and a handful of festival-goers catching the few remaining screenings and encore presentations of the fest’s most popular offerings. Not anymore. Indeed, at the screening of my final festival movie, The Two Popes, the audience was essentially read the riot act about saving seats. That’s how intense the competition to get into the Palm Theatre was. But it’s not surprising considering how good the movie is, powered by a writer (Anthony McCarten), a director (Fernando Meirelles) and actors (Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce) at the top of their games. The film is arguably the best of this year’s festival.

The Two Popes speaks to the necessity of listening and taking into consideration the views of others. But, strangely, Meirelles made an off-the-cuff remark that stunned the audience. While praising Pope Francis and the idea of tolerance, he then said that if it were up to him, he’d shoot President Trump and the president of Brazil. Such comments are never appropriate.

From left, Dayton Duncan, Julie Dunfey and Ken Burns discuss Country Music with the festival moderator.

In contrast, Ken Burns is a true beacon of tolerance and respect, and he’s also one of my journalistic heroes. Following a morning screening of one of the episodes of his new documentary, Country Music, I told Burns I was looking forward to seeing the entire series on PBS. “I can’t wait for you to see it,” he told me.  Ah, the feels.

But Labor Day was not just about seeing movies, for this is picnic day in Telluride. It’s a chance for festival-goers to eat, mingle and talk film in a breathtaking setting. It makes one forget the troubles of the world, if just for a few hours.

Telluride Film Festival’s Labor Day picnic

My biggest festival regret is that I couldn’t see more films, but that’s the regret of every festival-goer. Parasite, 63 Up, Lyrebird and Motherless Brooklyn were particularly tough to miss. I’ll be seeing them soon, I hope, and I’d recommend you do the same, as the festival buzz was strong on those four films. (Not so for Adam Sandler’s Uncut Gems, which generated perhaps the fest’s worst word of mouth.)

Safe travels home to all my new friends and acquaintances, especially those of you on the Southeast coast, as Hurricane Dorian continues to tease us. The storm is my only thumbs-down over the four-day festival weekend, as all the cinematic offerings were worth a watch. Thanks, Telluride!

Sunday, September 1

Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones and Tom Harper discuss The Aeronauts.

It’s a wonderful way to start a new month: watching director Tom Harper and actors Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne discuss their latest film, The Aeronauts. The movie is a fantastical and energetically hopeful look at pioneering balloonists in 19th-century England. It has its moments of anachronisms and contrivances, but it’s also arguably the best family adventure flick at this year’s festival.

Regrettably, I missed the much-buzzed-about Motherless Brooklyn and Lyrebird, but I did catch the Q&As, which featured Willem Dafoe and Edward Norton for the former and Guy Pearce and Vickie Krieps for the latter. (I also had the privilege of meeting and chatting to Krieps about her wonderful performance in one of the best short films of all time, Pitter Patter Goes My Heart, which, astonishingly, she told me was a student film.)

From left, Guy Pearce, director Dan Friedkin, Vicky Krieps and Claes Bang talk about Lyrebird.

The highlight of my festival thus far was the evening screening of Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, at the Galaxy Theatre. This infectious, riveting, riotous and emotionally powerful look at divorce is one of the five best films of 2019 to this point. And the Q&A — with Baumbach, Adam Driver, Alan Alda and Laura Dern — was almost equally inspiring. (We were warned to beware of street-roaming bears on our exit from the theater, but I imagine even wild animals would be tamed by this film’s charms.)

Saturday, August 31

Martin Scorsese and Varda’s son, Mathieu Demy (photo by Jen DeSantis)

The Telluride Film Festival, above all else, is about sharing movie moments with fellow cinephiles. And there might not be a bigger cinephile in the world than Martin Scorsese, who was among the guests for a special Q&A preceding a screening of the final film of Agnes Varda, Varda by Agnes. Listening to Scorsese reminisce about his friendship with Varda and her contributions to filmmaking might turn out to be the highlight of the fest for me. Oh, and the essay-style film itself is definitely worth a watch too, though its rambling structure demands patience.

One magical moment that occurred during the aforementioned Q&A was Scorsese’s description of Varda’s interpretation of memories. She viewed them as butterflies that eventually fly away as you age, leaving you lighter, Scorsese said. Interestingly, a moth kept circling Scorsese and Mathieu Demy, Varda’s son, during the entire conversation. Perhaps Varda, who passed away in March, was  present at Telluride after all.

My other film of the day was The Report, starring Adam Driver, who received a special festival tribute. The movie, directed by Scott Z. Burns, chronicles the efforts of Daniel Jones (in attendance) and the Senate Intelligence Committee to expose the illegal torture practices of the CIA following the terrorist attacks of September 11. It’s a powerful story and a sympathetic performance by Driver, though the film lacks a good deal of dramatic ebb and flow.

The creative team behind The Aeronauts stop for a photo on Colorado Avenue.

On a lighter note, I briefly played paparazzi when Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones introduced an outdoor screening of The Aeronauts. I didn’t stay for the screening because I intend to see the film on Sunday, but I did put on my fanboy hat and follow them down Colorado Avenue while they were posing for pictures. Yes, Jones is just as striking in person as on screen.

My final thought for the day concerns Antonio Banderas, who is here at the festival with the latest Pedro Almodovar film, Pain and Glory. Though I missed today’s screening of the movie, I caught a few minutes of his excellent Q&A, during which he said that a recent heart attack had changed his life for the better because it put his life in better focus. It’s a worthwhile reminder that what doesn’t kill you often makes you stronger.

Friday, August 30

Today’s introductory patron/press screening featured Ford v. Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, and directed by James Mangold (in attendance). Shown in the expansive Werner Herzog Theatre, the film is that rare, almost Spielbergian combination of art and entertainment. It’s arguably the most visually impressive film ever made about auto racing. Though it didn’t quite stick its landing (to mix sports metaphors), the movie will surely end up on my “top 5 of Telluride” list. Look for a more detailed review in the coming weeks in both The Orlando Weekly and on this site.

Rushing from the Herzog in Town Park to the Palm on the west side of town, I next took in the tribute to Renee Zellweger, featuring a screening of the much anticipated Judy, about the life of Judy Garland. It’s an impressive job of mimicry by Zellweger, but considering how much joy Garland brought to the world, this film is surprisingly joyless. It needs to sit in my brain for a couple of days before I pronounce a thumbs-up or -down, but it won’t be on my list of the top films of the festival.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening (other than seeing Zellweger in person) was meeting iconic film critic Leonard Maltin. His books, particularly his Disney ones, helped inspire me to create my own movie lists, so it felt good to finally be able to thank him.

Thursday, August 29

The festival unofficially began last night with an outdoor screening of Bridget Jones’s Diary — in 35 mm, no less. (Yes, the festival brings a film projector to Elks Park.) But the fest excitement really kicked into high gear this morning at 10 a.m. when its Brigadoon tent opened (so named because it appears at festival time and then magically disappears into the mist just a few days later). The tent opening coincided with the official announcement of the festival program, including all films and special guests. For the complete line-up, go to

Among my must-sees are a special tribute to Renee Zellweger, featuring a screening of Judy; Pain and Glory featuring a Q&A with Antonio Banderas; the doc Varga by Agnes featuring a Q&A with Martin Scorsese; a tribute to Adam Driver, which includes screenings of Marriage Story and The Report; Motherless Brooklyn featuring a Q&A with Edward Norton and Willem Dafoe; The Two Popes featuring a Q&A with Jonathan Pryce and Anthony McCarten (but apparently no Anthony Hopkins); The Aeronauts featuring a Q&A with Felicity Jones (be still my heart), Eddie Redmayne and Tom Harper; Lyrebird featuring a Q&A with Ridley Scott, Guy Pearce and Vicky Kriepes; and an episode of the upcoming Country Music doc, featuring a Q&A with Ken Burns (my first celebrity sighting this morning). Oh, and a screening of Marriage Story will feature a Q&A with Noah Baumbach, Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern and Alan Alda.

If I can be in two places at once, I will also try to see what sounds like a spectacular experience: a 35mm print of The Phantom Carriage, a silent classic that will apparently be accompanied by a live orchestra. And then there’s the new Up movie: 63 Up, which will feature a Q&A with director and creator Michael Apted. So much to see, so little time, so little oxygen (at 8,600 feet above sea level). And all this while contemplating the potential of a hurricane back in my home town of Orlando. (Please pray that the storm spares the Sunshine State so I can enjoy my Telluride experience in peace and keep you updated on the latest festival news and buzz.)

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