Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Race to Telluride: The Film Festival That Didn't Want to be Seen

It's been almost... nearly... practically... well... over a year now since I last made a post here.

Well you know the saying - in [cyber]space no one can hear you scream!

So I guess there have been no disappointed fans craving for me to take up the keyboard again. And why should one write for a readership? I realized that the blog is ultimately just a personal diary that I was too lazy to keep and the knowledge that someone, somewhere might [accidentally] access it, only makes it slightly more titillating.

But back to the main reason for my "comeback" - Telluride Film Festival.

Where do I start?

A couple of months ago a friend of mine whom I hadn't seen for months called me out of blue and asked me if I wanted to take trip to US to attend the notoriously high-brow TFF. "They've got Zizek as the guest director", he said breathlessly. "Wow! Amazing! I would so love to hear him" I replied (last time I've tried to read Zizek I took three coffee breaks by the time I'd reached the second page). Of course David had no idea that I'd already decided to quit my job and take another extended working holiday in Europe and Armenia. The major festival I wanted to attend was Venice of course, but... Telluride is so off the beaten track that I'd probably never even think of going unless something like this happened. So I said yes.

Flash forward two months and a few unexpected twists and turns, and I found myself packing for the trip, even though I had tried to quit, change the ticket to Toronto and grew desperate at the huge cost that was looming ahead.

Even though we decided to go to Telluride nearly three months before it started, we found out that it was still quite late for getting things organised.

We barely managed to buy a 'Cinephile' pass for $350 - which had a suspiciously vague description, then accommodation (affordable accommodation) proved to be an impossible dream. Telluride doesn't even hostels. Everything was booked for the season. Fortunately I was able to find a nice girl by the name of Rebecca who was willing to share her room with us for $500 apiece.
That settled, another problem presented itself. How the hell do we get there?
Dave suggested we drive from Albuquerque to the town, but I was against the idea, so... from LA, I took a plane to Phoenix, then Albuquerque, then hang around the flat expanses of this non-descript town until 1.50 am, met Dave (who had come ahead of me) and then took a bus to Durango. At 9.30 am the shuttle bus from Telluride picked us up (for a cool $60) and drove up very slowly up the mountain passes, stopping at the Durango airport to pick up more passengers.
We got there after three hours, checked into our hotel and started exploring the town. The landscape is of course stunning, with high mountain chains circling the few tiny streets of the old town. The locals seem to have struck a perfect balance with nature, they know how to enjoy its delights while respecting its mighty power and purity.
All in all, it's quite an awe-inspiring sight, but I soon found out that the rapid changes in temperature, lack of sleep and the blasted air-conditioning in the mini-bus had made me lethargic and on the verge getting sick.
David seemed to be fine and was already making plans for a two-hour hike up the mountains, but my poor, office-bound body was refusing to go anywhere but the bed.
The added pressure not to snore at night (so as not to wake up my two companions) made for a truly torturous night.
Next day, I found myself enjoying the space more and really getting into the festival mood. The program was out so it was time to plan which films were going to be on the menu for the next four days...

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