It's a job sort of like picking the wine for a table of sommeliers. Canadian artist and director Guy Maddin and Los Angeles-based film writer Kim Morgan, who are married, have been named guest directors of the 41st annual Telluride Film Festival.
Telluride -- a kind of Christmas for film nerds set in the Colorado mountain town over Labor Day weekend -- is notable both for its timing, at the kickoff of awards season, and its history of discovering great films.
Recent best picture Oscar winners "12 Years a Slave," "Argo," "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire" all premiered there.
In another sign of its clout, Telluride manages to attract audiences year after year despite keeping its schedule of more than 100 features, shorts and revivals totally secret.
"There’s just no other festival that’s this concentrated, this enchanting," Maddin said this week in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "Everybody out on the sidewalk has just come from or is going to a movie, and quite often they’re a film legend or an industry type. And then the surroundings are so outdoorsy it somehow balances out the glitz quotient."
In addition to having a voice in the overall programming of the festival, Maddin and Morgan, who first met when she appeared in his short film "Bing & Bela" in 2010, will choose six films of their own.
Like the rest of the program, their selections won't be revealed in advance. But the couple's shared taste may offer some clues.
Maddin, who received Telluride's Silver Medallion Award in 1995, is known for recreating the feel of silent films in features such as "My Winnipeg" (2007) and "The Saddest Music in the World" (2003). Morgan's blog, "Sunset Gun," is heavy on film noir content.
Both are fans of shining light on more obscure characters from film history. In 2012, Morgan conducted a conversation on stage at Telluride with little-known director Jack Garfein.
"[Our programming] is guaranteed to be something 'masterpiecey' from some unsuspecting corner of the world," Maddin said.
The 41st Telluride Film Festival runs Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2014.