After its inevitable hiatus last year, the Telluride Film Festival is back. Over the Labor Day holiday, high in the Rocky Mountains, Academy members ascended to an altitude of 8,750 feet for the premiere of several dozen new movies—many of which were their own.
Telluride presents silver, not gold, but still, Academy members grabbed all three of the festival’s special awards. The first Silver Medallion went to Jane Campion, for her fiery upcoming Western The Power of the Dog (out Nov. 17) that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst. Oscar buffs will know Campion: Nearly 30 years ago, she became the second-ever woman nominated for Best Director.
Campion was in good company in the small mountain town. In a noteworthy record for representation, 15 of the 36 movies in the festival’s Official Selection were directed by women. Among them: Céline Sciamma’s childhood drama Petite Maman, Liz Garbus’ Becoming Cousteau doc and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut as a director, The Lost Daughter.
Actors Peter Dinklage and Riz Ahmed grabbed the remaining two Medallions. Dinklage’s is for his performance in the musical adaptation Cyrano, out Dec. 31. (Yes, Dinklage can sing—he was in a punk rock band in the ’90s!) And Ahmed’s is for his work in the sci-fi thriller Encounter (out Dec. 3), in which he plays a decorated Marine trying to save his kids from a mysterious “unhuman threat.”
A few more of the movies screened at Telluride boast casts and crews stacked with Academy members, including two highly hyped biopics: the three-days-in-the-life Princess Diana drama Spencer (with costume designer Jacqueline Durran and production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas shaping the world around Kristen Stewart) and King Richard, the movie about the father who raised tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams (that film’s lineup includes actor and producer Will Smith! Composer Kris Bowers! Costume designer Sharen Davis and production designer Wynn Thomas!).
But it was more than just big, buzzy premieres—there were also spotlights on movies past and future. Academy members served as guest curators, too, with Barry Jenkins screening classics like Chocolat but also picking up-and-coming filmmakers for the Calling Cards and Great Expectations sections, and Gregory Nava presenting eight of the best student films from across the globe.
Telluride is just one in a blitz of festivals that get the fall movie season going. The Venice Film Festival started on Sept. 3 and is ongoing, while a lineup of 100 movies started playing at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 9.