There is something about the atmosphere at the Telluride Film Festival that can only be described as magical. It may have something to do with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the thinness of the air, the eclectic gathering of filmmakers from around the globe, or the friendliness of the people–but everyone I meet seems to fall under its spell. That includes actors and filmmakers who wind up watching other people’s movies, which they don’t always get to do at other such events. After the first screening of Sully, Tom Hanks apparently spent the last few minutes of his q&a waxing rhapsodic about Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. This is what the rest of us do all weekend long as we buzz about what we’ve seen; having a major movie star take up time at his own panel is truly something else.

Since I hosted a handful of events I didn’t get to see as many films as I would have liked. I was happy to introduce Gregory Monro’s first-rate documentary Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown, which will play on European television, but deserves exposure on this side of the pond. He covers a lot of ground in just one hour and had access to Jerry’s formidable archives.

I forced myself to get up on Sunday morning to attend an 8:30 a.m. showing of Bertrand Tavernier’s Journey Through French Cinema and I’m so glad I did. It’s an expansive, highly personal view of French films from the 1930s onward. Tavernier talks about his youthful moviegoing experiences, his later work alongside Jacques Becker and Jean-Pierre Melville (detailing their peccadilloes), and his conversations with such towering figures as Jean Gabin. A child of World War Two, he points fingers at talented directors who did not behave admirably during that turbulent time. This is a tapestry of French cinema like no other and when it came to an end after three and a quarter hours Ken Burns and I turned to each other and said in unison, “I want more!” Fortunately more is on the way, along with a CD of underappreciated music themes and scores from classic French films. Bertrand has given film lovers around the world a gift that can never be repaid.

As usual I’ve returned from Telluride exhilarated by what I saw and eager to catch up with the ones I missed. I feel fortunate to attend this world-class celebration of cinema, old and new.


Tom Hanks-Telluride 2016

The nicest man in show business proves it again by posing with a fan at Telluride. While many industry professionals attend the festival, there are just as many ordinary folks who come just because they love movies. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Casey Affleck-Telluride-2016

Casey Affleck received a special tribute and Telluride medallion before a screening of Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Manchester by the Sea’, the best film I saw all weekend. The unassuming actor gives a heartbreaking performance in this highly emotional drama and was pleased to receive the compliments he deserves for his work. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Emma Stone-Ken Burns-2016

Telluride stalwart Ken Burns expresses his love for ‘La La Land’ to costar Emma Stone and writer-director Damien Chazelle as another of this year’s filmmakers, Kenneth Lonergan (second from left), looks on. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Bertrand Tavernier-Clint Eastwood-2016

Bertrand Tavernier chats with his old friend and confidante Clint Eastwood as festival co-founder Tom Luddy listens in. Eastwood debuted his latest film Tully, to great response; his last visit here was with ‘The Bridges of Madison County’. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Laura Linney-Amy Adams-2016

Two top actresses enjoy a moment together: Telluride regular Laura Linney (who costars in ‘Tully’ as Tom Hanks’ wife) and newcomer Amy Adams, who received a special tribute this year with a showing of her new film ‘Arrival’. Adams flew in from the Venice Film Festival and arrived at 4 a.m. but was still cheery when the annual “class photo” was taken late Saturday morning. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Richard Gere - 2016

I hadn’t seen Richard Gere in many years and we had a lovely chat at the Labor Day picnic. He got great “buzz” for his starring role in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, which I look forward to seeing when it’s released by Sony Pictures Classics. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Werner Herzog-Volcano Cake-2A

To celebrate Werner Herzog’s birthday, festival director Julie Huntsinger arranged for him to receive a chocolate-frosted volcano cake, in keeping with his new documentary ‘Into the Inferno’, which made its debut here. I first met Herzog at this festival more than thirty years ago! (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Jennirfer Garner-Bryan Cranston-Robin Swicord-2016

I was happy to moderate several question-and-answer sessions over the weekend: here I am with Jennifer Garner, Bryan Cranston, and writer-director Robin Swicord following a showing of ‘Wakefield’, based on an E.L. Doctorow short story. It’s a decidedly odd but mesmerizing film with another dazzling performance by Cranston (who may well tie with Tom Hanks as the nicest man in show business). (Photo by Vivien Best, Courtesy of Telluride Film Festival)

Carrie Fisher panel at Telluride-2016

Filmmakers Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, Todd Fisher, his celebrated sister Carrie, her dog Gary and I take the stage after a screening of the terrific—and surprisingly moving—documentary ‘Bright Lights’, which focuses on the relationship between Carrie and her mother, Debbie Reynolds. This will screen at the New York Film Festival but will find its largest audience when it airs early next year on HBO. (Photo by Alice Maltin)

Casey Affleck-Ken Burns-Elsa Dorfman-2016

Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris’ latest portrait is called ‘The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography’. Ms. Dorfman set up a studio in Telluride to take pictures with her outsized, wood-framed Polaroid camera, like this shot of Casey Affleck and Ken Burns. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Elsa Dorfman-Telluride-2016

…and here is what it looks like from the other side of the lens. Elsa even took a portrait of me, which I haven’t yet seen. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)


Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024