Telluride announces 40th anniversary festival celebration and creation of new venue

This September I’ll be off to the mountains of Colorado for my fifth trip to the Telluride Film Festival. It’s been a delightful excursion to start every season over that spread, though even in that short amount of time the crunch of other outlets descending on the space for an early look at potential awards players has been felt (and even I started going at a time when that escalation was already on the rise).

Excitement will be as high as ever this year as the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extra day added to the long Labor Day weekend festivities. Not only that, but a new venue has been announced bearing the name of the fest’s most famous regular, director Werner Herzog.

“The Werner Herzog Theatre will be situated in Telluride”s Town Park Pavilion and become the Festival”s most technologically advanced theatre accommodating 650 pass holders,” the press release states. The fest will not, however, be expanding its 2013 pass holder base in order to keep value placed on its intimate, relaxed atmosphere.

“The 40th celebration is our chance to thank and honor the founders, filmmakers and audience who have helped us create such a beloved cultural institution,” blurbs Telluride Film Festival Executive Director Julie Huntsinger in the release. “We are inspired every day by the cinematic genius that surrounds us and look forward to sharing the best of that on this very special occasion.”

Four of the last five Best Picture winners have had their North American premiere at the festival, though films like “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The King’s Speech” and “Argo” were screened as “Sneak Previews,” given their “official” bow at the Toronto Film Festival in the weeks following Telluride. The last two years have seemed like a bit of a slight recoil back to its former identity, perhaps as a response to increased media interest in such early looks. “Argo” was the only Sneak Preview last year after a couple of years particularly well-positioned by Fox Searchlight Pictures to include the likes of “Black Swan,” “127 Hours” and “The Descendants.”

The 40th annual Telluride Film Festival runs August 29 – September 2 and In Contention will once again be covering from the scene. Passes go on sale tomorrow and can be purchased at