There are two key activities at Telluride. Watching movies and waiting in line to watch movies. The first is essentially to provide material to talk about, while doing the second. A key characterisation of the person standing in line in front of you and what conversation they strike up, is whether or not they got into the last movie they stood in line for. If you think this is an unnecessary detail, don’t: the typical Telluridian Passholder carries around the Festival programme and is constantly, obsessively assessing and reassessing their chances at the next screening. There are many different opportunities at different venues, some with, some without, director/producer/star Q&As, so each has a different level of difficulty and length of queue. When you get there you are given a “Q” laminated card with your number in line: means you can go away and get a coffee, which is civilised. But the detail and arcana of different pass levels intersecting the desirability of getting in, is at times mind-boggling and the conversations in line can be intense! “I’ve been coming for fifteen years and I’ve been turned away five times and it just isn’t right”. But I’ve mostly met a bunch of patient people who love to talk about the films they HAVE seen and are curious about me. Yesterday I stood in line for the latest Steve McQueen film, which I didn’t get into (my first and only failure so far) but the silver lining was that I made a friend while waiting. A middle aged guy, Paul: white Nikes, crisp striped shirt, wraparound shades, slight paunch, (look who’s talking!) struck up a conversation. We both loved the last film we’d seen – the epic ALL IS LOST, starring Robert Redford and, having been unlucky in line, we decided to join forces for the next attempt. Wandering back into Main Street past impossibly beautiful mountain scenery, we were super early for Jonathan Glazer’s UNDER THE SKIN. Just a handful already on line, we were optimistic. My new best friend filled me in a little on Telluride. He, an ex-Manhattan property lawyer, who’d risen from humble beginnings to make a vast fortune in the hotel business, now spends four months a year in his mountain home up here alongside Ralph Lauren (“70,000 acres!), Frank Marshall (producer for Spielberg) and Tom Cruise. He’s a regular attendee and, importantly, has some tips on how to play the line! He’s also a delightful fellow and points out the historical bits: where Butch Cassidy (the real one) made his first bank raid; where the last of the town’s miners used to shoot up the hippies in their tents; the room above a bar where you can still obtain legal medicinal marijuana (I’m not ill so doesn’t apply). Once we have our Q cards doled out by one of the infinite (green lanyard) smiling minions, we peel off-line to grab a bite – a range of street food is on offer, mostly clustering around trendy versions of burgers, ‘dogs, tex-mex and felafel – a bit like Camden Town, actually. Paul generously stands me a felafel wrap and as I grab the chilli sauce the bearded dude behind the counter growls “you’d better be ready for that!” We are now a formidable line team and, after the interminable UNDER THE SKIN, dive straight back in for my final film of the day, from Chile, Sebastian Lelio’s GLORIA, the story of a middle-aged woman and her tribulations with love and family. Only slightly less interminable than the previous film, I’m sensing a pattern emerge: too many contemporary films “unfold”, i.e. drag on!
Filmed out, I return home and do a watercolour of the contents of my fridge.