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Telluride Festival Is Where The Oscar Season Starts

A still of Carey Mulligan as character Maud Watts  in the film "Suffragette." The movie is part of the Telluride Film Festival's lineup this year.

A still of Carey Mulligan as character Maud Watts  in the film “Suffragette.” The movie is part of the Telluride Film Festival’s lineup this year.

The Telluride Film Festival begins today and lasts through the Labor Day weekend. The four-day event in Telluride, Colorado, is where the unofficial Oscar season starts. Before the event, no one knows what movies will be played or who will be awarded. It all remains a secret until the festival starts, but the curation is guaranteed to be good. In fact, six of the last seven best picture Oscar winners made either their world or North American debuts in this former mining town high in the Rockies. John Horn, the host of the arts and entertainment show “The Frame” on our sister station KPCC, talked to Kai about the business of film festivals.

“Half of the year in Hollywood, six months and starting at Telluride, is devoted to Oscar campaigning, so that’s a multimillion dollar business. If a movie doesn’t play at Telluride, it’s never going to play anywhere,” says Horne. “So if you go there with a movie you think is going to get some Oscar buzz and maybe win an award down the road, you want to get the ball rolling. You want to get the momentum going.” The curators are very good about picking movies, but the festival is prestigious enough that it also seems like movies that come out of Telluride with a lot of buzz do well with awards’ voters.

Movies that Horn is excited about include “Steve Jobs” by director Danny Boyle, who is known for “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Trainspotting”; crime film “Black Mass” starring Johnny Depp as Irish gangster James “Whitey” Bulger; and “Suffragette,” about early members of the British women’s suffrage movement.

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