Telluride Film Festival at 40: Many celebrants, some growing pains


TELLURIDE, Colo. — Now in its 40th year, the Telluride Film Festival draws attendees from around the country, some of whom have been coming for decades. The film schedule often includes some of the fall and winter’s best movies, a lineup this year that includes “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “Labor Day.”

But has the Colorado festival’s success created a capacity problem?

Passes for this weekend’s festival sold out faster than ever, with most of the 3,500 gone by May, rather than July, when the last passes usually are claimed.


WATCH: Trailers from Telluride

As the festival opened Thursday, lines for an afternoon screening of Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day” for donors (and reporters) snaked for more than 150 yards. Road repairs on a main intersection just outside of the mountain resort meant that it took some patrons more than 90 minutes to get to the festival’s regular kickoff brunch. By the time many people got to the party, about 10 miles from downtown, much of the food was gone.

“I could have walked here faster,” said one frustrated guest.

To accommodate some of the throngs, festival organizers have added a new festival theater, a 650-seat complex named after director Werner Herzog.

WATCH: Trailers from Venice

There are also more free programs this year, including several presentations outdoors — a Wednesday evening performance by the Punch Brothers and “Inside Llewyn Davis” star Oscar Isaac drew hundreds of guests but had to be curtailed when a thunderstorm rolled in a few songs before the show was supposed to end.

Julie Huntsinger, one of the festival’s directors, said she was not worried about the festival’s growth, noting that attendance is cyclical and dropped during the economic downturn. And with added free concerts, screenings and programs, more people who don’t have passes can still enjoy Telluride.

“You don’t need to fly in on a private jet,” Huntsinger said, “to be able to enjoy the festival.”


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