January 18, 2018
Saturday, August 30, 2014

Telluride Fest steps ahead of Toronto

By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES — A trio of highly anticipated dramas slated for the Toronto Film Festival opening next week will instead premiere at the smaller Telluride Film Festival over the weekend.

The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as British World War II code-breaker Alan Turing, and Wild, featuring Reese Witherspoon as a heart-broken woman trekking solo over hundreds of miles of wilderness are among the 25 new feature films in Telluride’s main programme.

The directorial début of comedian and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, Rosewater, the true story of a BBC journalist imprisoned in Iran, will also show in the Colorado mountain town’s event, now in its 41st year. Telluride and Toronto are both considered kick-offs to Oscar season and competition between them heated up this year after the Canadian festival refused to programme films in the first four days that premiered elsewhere.

That decision came after high-profile movies like Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave went to Telluride before Toronto last year and stole thunder from the Canadian showcase. The rule change put filmmakers and studios in a bind, because they like to build buzz around their films in stages. Missing the first four days at Toronto, when the festival draws the most media attention, could reduce their exposure. Minutes after the lineup was released, Stewart said that, as a newcomer to the film world, “ignorance was bliss” and he wasn’t “that familiar with that type of controversy.”

Telluride is a small gathering of industry elite, filmwriters and film buffs, while Toronto is a behemoth, screening 285 feature films September 4 to 14. The drama 12 Years a Slave won the top award there, voted by ordinary moviegoers.

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