To get to the 40th Telluride Film Festival high in the Colorado Rockies (where I’m afraid the word awesome is for once not out of place) I took a tiny rattling twin-prop aeroplane from Denver. The preflight safety talk was given by the copilot, who showed us, the eleven slightly trepidatious passengers, how to open the doors in an emergency. He wasn’t joking and we were really listening. But the flight was fine and we landed on a tiny sloping airstrip amid the peaks. We came to a stop as the odd one out in a row of gleaming private jets: Hollywood comes to the Rockies. And indeed, instead of a sad guy holding up a card with “Sid Evans” in black felt tip, we had Ethan Coen smilingly greeting his young guest. The ambience of nonchalant celebrity in a one horse town was reinforced later when Salman Rushdie glided ineffably past me as I munched on delicious veggie kebabs and home made feta, washed down by an immaculate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in a biodegradable beaker, at the Opening Night Feed on Main Street. Everything is deceptively hoakey: actually it’s all super sophisticated and fantastically well organised. Everybody seemed to know me or want to know me, which was a bit disconcerting, but then as I really began to relax into the vibe, I realised that actually, it’s all genuine. People keep coming back here because they really adore cinema. But then all great Film Festivals are characterised in this way. And I suppose that’s the difference. A Festival, like Edinburgh, like Galway, like Telluride, like Toronto, (I hope – going next week!), is where the enthusiasts, the film nerds, the old couple from North Carolina who’ve been coming here for fifteen years, rule the roost. Sure, the execs, the buyers, the agents and all the other essential industry nochschlappers are here – but they are here to blend and mingle, not, like at Cannes, to show off. The programme is eclectic and very exciting: from Scarlett Johanssen in UNDER THE SKIN, to an intriguing looking Israeli film called BETHLEHEM, with some marvellous forgotten gems along the way, such as Maurice Pialat’s 1969 NAKED CHILDHOOD – bang in the territory I’d like to continue to explore. I’m off to see that at 9.15 a.m.: it’s 4.15 a.m. here and my jetlagged bodyclock has me up writing at this time. But I’m running ahead. Back to last night: what was up first for me, after the Main Street nosh up? What better and more appropriate, as a guest of the Edinburgh Film Festival, than a film by a genius Scot, David Mackenzie. His introduction was disarmingly modest: his new film, STARRED UP is, to use another overused but here apposite term, BRUTAL! It’s a prison drama, set in a grim UK identikit Victorian monstrosity. Fantastic ensemble acting. I think it stands up there with A PROPHET. Some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in ages – and, like the superb, equally violent dialogue, it is truthful and totally believable. Claustrophobic, emotionally moving, scary, entertaining. I’m off to a good start!