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Rocky Mountain high on movies at the Telluride Film Festival

The Colorado town of Telluride usually has a population of about 2,300, but it grows considerably for its annual film festival.
The Colorado town of Telluride usually has a population of about 2,300, but it grows considerably for its annual film festival.
David McNew/Getty Images

Well, we're off and running at the Telluride Film Festival. From today through Labor Day, there's a whirlwind of screenings in this small resort town high in the Rockies.

There are three film festivals that happen about now, in Venice, Italy, Telluride and Toronto. And they all have slightly different mixes of films and different reputations. Telluride is really geared for film lovers. It’s not a big industry event — there aren't a lot of agents or reporters. You don't even know the schedule of which films are playing until the day before the festival begins.

Telluride is also known for very smart programming. Even though there aren't a lot of films at the festival, it has an amazing reputation for picking movies that matter. Each of the past five Academy Award best picture winners — "Argo," " 12 Years a Slave," "Birdman," "Spotlight" and "Moonlight" — had their world- or North American premieres at Telluride. So it's a great festival for setting the agenda of what’s going to happen during Oscar season.

The films I'm most excited about seeing are:

"Battle of the Sexes," from Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine." It stars Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs. It’s about their epic 1973 tennis match that took place after Riggs claimed no woman could defeat him on the court. 

"Downsizing" from Alexander Payne ("Sideways"), in which the characters are shrunken to miniature size to make sure they don't consume too much of Earth’s precious resources. It stars Matt Damon.

"Hostiles" from Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart") is set in 1892 and it’s about a U.S. Army captain (Christian Bale) who has to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family back to their tribal homeland. 

"Wonderstruck" is adapted by Brian Selznick from his young adult novel of the same name. It's about two deaf kids growing up in New York City at two different time periods. Directed by Todd Haynes ("Carol").

"The Shape of Water" by Guillermo del Toro got rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival. It's a Cold War fairy tale about a cleaning woman who stumbles upon an amphibious creature that's the result of a secret government experiment. 

And there are a couple of documentaries I'm looking forward to:

"Arthur Miller: Writer" is a  documentary about the iconic American author, directed by his daughter, the filmmaker and novelist Rebecca Miller.

“Human Flow” is a documentary by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.  He traveled around the world to document the global refugee crisis.

When I'm back in The Frame studio on Sept. 5, we'll have all the festival highlights for you.

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