Telluride Diary Day 2 – Into the Mountains

“A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: ‘There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.’”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 4

It was hard not to think of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby as we made our way in the shuttle up the winding dirt road to a party thrown for patrons and VIPS – their reward for their generous donations and coverage was hob-nobbing with the various celebrities who were in Telluride to promote their films.  The shuttle picked people up down on Main Street, in front of the Sheridan hotel, all of them crammed in tightly, cell phones at the ready so as to avoid conversation.  But if conversation did start it was usually the same kind of thing: How long is the ride? Is this where the brunch was last year? Is George Clooney going to be there?

The shuttle stopped at the top of a mountain that itself wasn’t even the highest mountain but still boasted the kind of view you only have if you’re if you’re a winner in life.  You’ve at last won the game, either by getting something coming to you, or you worked hard for it and this is what you have to show the world that you’ve won the damned game.

We wandered down the dusty road where there were white tents with round tables underneath them.  The staff busily prepared the all local and organic menu, the mimosas, the coffee, and of course, the one thing you simply can’t do without in Telluride: water.  There were a few names there already and we were began rubber-necking.  Ken Burns, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Alexander Payne were the early birds, each of them talking to anyone who happened to approach.

We filled up our plates with their local, organic brunch which included fruit salad, corn cakes, chicken and pork sausages, eggs however you like them, french bread with peach and raspberry jam and all manner of muffins, croissants and scones.  Hollywood people don’t exactly chow down, which always makes these things kind of strange: the only people who eat are the people who really shouldn’t be there in the first place.

The sun dipped in and out of the sometimes scattered, sometimes dense cloud cover.  There wasn’t a place you could stand that didn’t shimmer with natural beauty.  This was a place for winners.  Once George Clooney showed up, the faces all turned in his direction. Journalists migrated near, shaking his hand, asking him questions. Clooney didn’t get but five feet from the last step into the brunch area before being swarmed.  He never really moved beyond that one spot because it wasn’t going to be his job to walk and mingle.  He only had to stand there and let others come to him.

It’s one thing to know George Clooney the movie star, as we all do, his charm almost always his leading characteristic. It’s a whole other thing to stand a few feet away from him and actually feel his force field.  Any cynicism or desire to be above it all evaporates.  One hates to be a fan or a lesser monkey gazing lovingly at the beautiful monkey but there is a reason Clooney is where he is.  And that reason can be felt – it is made of solids.

I snapped a few photos of Clooney anyway, even though in my sad little imaginary world I was pretending not to care that it was indeed a star of this magnitude standing so close.  What does it  matter what I think.  What does it matter what anyone thinks.  This is how it all goes down.  Clooney, though, despite his own palpable force field, was amiable and giving of his time and self — golden-skinned, with even features and a mouth that makes you want to disappear into his pretty monkey orbit — he worked the grounds, Gatsby-esque but approachable.  The journalists who spoke with him couldn’t stop smiling.  Am I overstating this?  Probably. But only a little.

You never want to stand around too long at these things.  By the time the crew finds time to relax, sit back and have a bite it’s usually time to leave.  Clooney was still there.  Tilda Swinton, who arrived late but flitted about, was still there.  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was still there.  Glenn Close with Rodrigo Garcia was still there.  But one can’t really fill the time much beyond taking a few pictures and talking to a few people.  We decided to hot foot it out there and try to make the press briefing at the Sheridan.

On the way down Jeff Wells was looking thoughtfully out the window.  The hum of the bus, the murmur of its passengers, took the place of conversation.  But finally Jeff turned to me and said, “you know, people like to say that everyone has it basically good in life but it really isn’t true.  Life is for the privileged.  Only a few get to enjoy the spoils.”

His head was turned and he was looking at a small herd of horses whose manes shimmered in the light — so much light.  I wondered if Jeff Wells counted himself among them, if he felt, riding on this shuttle up the hill and to that place, whether he was there because he deserved to be there or whether he felt himself still on the outside looking in.  It wasn’t a question I could answer then and maybe not ever.

That afternoon I saw Alexander Payne’s The Descendants. I was still wearing the dress I’d wore at the picnic when I’d stood behind George Clooney in a futile attempt to pretend like I didn’t care that I was sharing space with a movie star.  But this time it was as it should be: I was in the audience and he was on stage doing a q&a.  My face hurt from the crying but I was so appreciative to Payne and Clooney for making this film that it was a pleasure to once again be a fan, and to not have to pretend like we were on equal ground, even if we were standing on adjacent turf for a little while one hot afternoon in Telluride.

That night we all crammed into the Galaxy to watch Albert Nobbs.  The festival was in full swing — the trick was now in watching movies and writing about them, not in day-dreaming about life lived among those beautiful winners, and that house on the mountain, and all of the ways it made us think about who we were and what we were doing there.  Colorado is where we are.  It starts and ends there.

Telluride Film Festival – Day One

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Shame is the Shadow of Love

No Comments

  1. Sarah
    September 3, 2011

    Gorgeous pics. I’m tired of being a lesser monkey. :-(

    Are you going to write about ALBERT NOBBS (either a review or a recap of the Q&A session at the screening)?

  2. Sarah
    September 3, 2011

    Gorgeous pics. I’m tired of being a lesser monkey. :-(

    Are you going to write about ALBERT NOBBS (either a review or a recap of the Q&A session at the screening)?

  3. Sarah
    September 3, 2011

    Oops. Never mind. I just found your “Albert Nobbs” article. Thanks.

  4. Sarah
    September 3, 2011

    Oops. Never mind. I just found your “Albert Nobbs” article. Thanks.

  5. AD
    September 3, 2011

    Beautiful pics! Colorado is so stunning…

  6. AD
    September 3, 2011

    Beautiful pics! Colorado is so stunning…

  7. September 3, 2011

    Beautiful piece, Sasha, reflecting beautiful peace. We are there.

  8. September 3, 2011

    Beautiful piece, Sasha, reflecting beautiful peace. We are there.

  9. Carlo
    September 3, 2011

    Beautiful post, Sasha! Especially love the part about Jeff Wells’ comment about life being for the privileged. Growing up in both Vancouver, Canada and Manila, Philippines has definitely taught me that. Loving the coverage so far, and I love the fact that Telluride appears so accomodating. No doubt on my list of places to visit in the future!

  10. Carlo
    September 3, 2011

    Beautiful post, Sasha! Especially love the part about Jeff Wells’ comment about life being for the privileged. Growing up in both Vancouver, Canada and Manila, Philippines has definitely taught me that. Loving the coverage so far, and I love the fact that Telluride appears so accomodating. No doubt on my list of places to visit in the future!

  11. September 3, 2011

    Great writing and beautiful photos as usual. You should’ve snapped a photo of Jeff with Clooney, surely even he was was starstrucked. And so looking forward to The Descendants, sounds like a winner.

  12. September 3, 2011

    Great writing and beautiful photos as usual. You should’ve snapped a photo of Jeff with Clooney, surely even he was was starstrucked. And so looking forward to The Descendants, sounds like a winner.

  13. Dave L
    September 4, 2011

    Am loving your writing ATM Sasha!!!

  14. Dave L
    September 4, 2011

    Am loving your writing ATM Sasha!!!

  15. m1
    September 4, 2011

    This city looks so gorgeous. I would love to go there one day.

  16. m1
    September 4, 2011

    This city looks so gorgeous. I would love to go there one day.

  17. D
    September 4, 2011

    Telluride looks so quaint, in the best possible way.

  18. D
    September 4, 2011

    Telluride looks so quaint, in the best possible way.

  19. September 4, 2011

    Telluride is indeed beautiful. Great blog and good assessment of the festival from the eyes of a patron pass holder. If you have 3900.00 for each ticket, it is the way to go, otherwise, you could pay 800 per ticket for a standard pass. All that entails is standing in line 2 hours for each movie. If you like that, hey you are good to go. However, all you get are the films and that is if you are lucky to get in. No luxury brunches or hobnobbing included.

  20. September 4, 2011

    Telluride is indeed beautiful. Great blog and good assessment of the festival from the eyes of a patron pass holder. If you have 3900.00 for each ticket, it is the way to go, otherwise, you could pay 800 per ticket for a standard pass. All that entails is standing in line 2 hours for each movie. If you like that, hey you are good to go. However, all you get are the films and that is if you are lucky to get in. No luxury brunches or hobnobbing included.

  21. September 4, 2011

    Again, Sasha, a wonderful, well-written, compellingly beautiful and reflective essay on “Day Two at Telluride.” I had forgotten in my comment on Day One to thank you for the gorgeous photos that accompany your tear-inducing (writing verging on the melancholy) take on all things Telluride. Thank you, too, for helping to humanize Jeff (one of the great curmudgeons of our time … were life as ‘fair’ as Jeff would wish it to be), as you do each week on Oscar Poker, by providing a warm, supportive insight into his take on things.

  22. September 4, 2011

    Again, Sasha, a wonderful, well-written, compellingly beautiful and reflective essay on “Day Two at Telluride.” I had forgotten in my comment on Day One to thank you for the gorgeous photos that accompany your tear-inducing (writing verging on the melancholy) take on all things Telluride. Thank you, too, for helping to humanize Jeff (one of the great curmudgeons of our time … were life as ‘fair’ as Jeff would wish it to be), as you do each week on Oscar Poker, by providing a warm, supportive insight into his take on things.

  23. Sasha Stone
    September 4, 2011

    Thanks a lot, guys. Means a lot. I know I get all non-Oscary but hey, sometimes one wants to write about things other than the Oscars. :-)

  24. Sasha Stone
    September 4, 2011

    Thanks a lot, guys. Means a lot. I know I get all non-Oscary but hey, sometimes one wants to write about things other than the Oscars. :-)

  25. Sasha Stone
    September 4, 2011

    Telluride is indeed beautiful. Great blog and good assessment of the festival from the eyes of a patron pass holder. If you have 3900.00 for each ticket, it is the way to go, otherwise, you could pay 800 per ticket for a standard pass. All that entails is standing in line 2 hours for each movie. If you like that, hey you are good to go. However, all you get are the films and that is if you are lucky to get in. No luxury brunches or hobnobbing included.

    Yep, it is a costly affair and made for the uber-rich. I totally get that – and it’s a little annoying, I suppose. I didn’t want to cough up the $750 I had to pay for a pass — but it’s a competitive market now and I have to up my game, I suppose. However, if you are going to spend your hard-earned cash, this is the way to go. Really and truly. Yes, if you have a regular pass you have to wait in line, get there early, etc. But you get to come to Telluride – and there may be no more beautiful place to have a film fest.

  26. Sasha Stone
    September 4, 2011

    Telluride is indeed beautiful. Great blog and good assessment of the festival from the eyes of a patron pass holder. If you have 3900.00 for each ticket, it is the way to go, otherwise, you could pay 800 per ticket for a standard pass. All that entails is standing in line 2 hours for each movie. If you like that, hey you are good to go. However, all you get are the films and that is if you are lucky to get in. No luxury brunches or hobnobbing included.

    Yep, it is a costly affair and made for the uber-rich. I totally get that – and it’s a little annoying, I suppose. I didn’t want to cough up the $750 I had to pay for a pass — but it’s a competitive market now and I have to up my game, I suppose. However, if you are going to spend your hard-earned cash, this is the way to go. Really and truly. Yes, if you have a regular pass you have to wait in line, get there early, etc. But you get to come to Telluride – and there may be no more beautiful place to have a film fest.

  27. September 4, 2011

    Echoing the sentiments above!

  28. September 4, 2011

    Echoing the sentiments above!

  29. Bebe
    September 4, 2011

    Awesome piece! The Gatsby analogy is spot on, hammered home with grace in the moment with Jeff W. Nicely done!

  30. Bebe
    September 4, 2011

    Awesome piece! The Gatsby analogy is spot on, hammered home with grace in the moment with Jeff W. Nicely done!

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