Telluride at Dartmouth brings highly anticipated films to campus

by Elizabeth Garrison and Macy Toppan | 9/19/19 2:00am


 Dartmouth alumni reunite annually for the Telluride Film Festival.

Source: Courtesy of Sydney Stowe

Starting this Friday, the Hopkins Center will be showing advanced screenings of six films from the acclaimed Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, beginning with “Ford v Ferrari” and ending with “The Climb” on Sept. 26. Every year, Telluride at Dartmouth presents an opportunity to see much-anticipated films months before they come to theaters.

Telluride at Dartmouth has a 34-year history of bringing exclusive first looks of films to Dartmouth students since Bill Pence, former Hop director of film and co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival, began the event. According to Hopkins Center film programming and operations manager Johanna Evans, the cohort of approximately 30 Dartmouth alumni who have been employed by Telluride in the past have continued to carry the festival’s legacy in its close relationship to the College by reuniting every year at the festival. 

Director of Hopkins Center Film Sydney Stowe said she believes that this event will provide modern viewers with a more authentic movie-going experience because many of the films have not been reviewed yet, allowing viewers to enjoy them without any preconceptions or spoilers.

“Before we had the Internet, you would walk into these movies and have no idea what you are going to see,” Stowe said. “We believe in this event so much because it is a chance for students to see these films before you hear on Rotten Tomatoes how they are. I feel like there are not a lot of pure experiences like that anymore in this new-media age.” 

Publicity director of the Hopkins Center Rebecca Bailey said she also finds Telluride a unique cinematic experience.

“One of the things that I love about it is — it was true [34 years ago] and it’s still true now — that it creates an event out of film watching,” Bailey said. “Telluride, to me, reminds you of how fun it is to see great films with a big group of people on a big screen, to get that experience.”

The first screening of the festival is “Ford v Ferrari,” taking place this coming Friday. The film, directed by James Mangold, is about designer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale), who are recruited by Henry Ford II to build a new racecar to compete with Ferrari’s Formula One.

Evans said that “Ford v Ferrari” is the glossiest Hollywood film out of the festival lineup, as it already had big studio backing before it was shown at the festival. According to Evans, there is a lot of student interest in the film. 

“We’re expecting both showings of the film to sell out,” Evans said. “So, I would recommend students to get their tickets early.” 

“Motherless Brooklyn” screens on Sept. 21. Actor and director Edward Norton takes on both roles in this film adapted from the novel of the same name by Jonathan Lethem. Set in the classic film noir period, the story follows a private detective through a murder case in New York City in 1957.

Of all the movies in this year’s Telluride lineup, Bailey said she is particularly excited to see Norton’s work.

“[‘Motherless Brooklyn’] is a complicated film — I don’t know how many [Norton has] directed, but certainly nothing on this level,” Bailey said. “Plus, it covers an era in New York and corruption that fascinates me,” she said.

On Sept. 22, “Marriage Story,” starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, will grace the screen. It tells the story of a married couple who begin to drift apart as they realize they both want different things in life. Since the film is going straight to Netflix, this will be one of the only chances to see the film on the big screen. 

Evans said she thinks that students would be able to relate to “Marriage Story” and its complex depiction of navigating life and relationships.

“Even for people who aren’t going through a divorce and are just dating in college, they can see themselves in this story,” Evans said. “They might be thinking about going to graduate school abroad or in another state and have to negotiate whether or not they should keep a relationship going when their dreams and careers and pulling them in different directions.” 

“Beanpole” is the only international film in the Telluride at Dartmouth lineup and will be playing on Sept. 24. It tells the story of two women struggling to rebuild their lives in the war-torn ruins of Leningrad in the mid 1940s. Evans said she is excited for “Beanpole” because the female perspective in World War II has not yet been explored in depth through film.

“The Assistant,” playing on Sept. 25, depicts a fictional story based on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse allegations and focuses on the life and observations of an assistant employed by a predatory film executive. 

Katie Orenstein ’22, who is one of the four student leaders of the Dartmouth Film Society and also works at the Hop, said she expects this movie’s dark subject matter to be the most intense of this year’s film series and is particularly relevant in light of the recent #MeToo movement.

“It’s the first feature film to really address what Hollywood is grappling with right now, and I’m really curious about the tone of the film,” Orenstein said. “I’m curious about who [the film] puts blame on.”

The festival closes with a screening of “The Climb” on Sept. 26. “The Climb” is a dark comedy about two high school best friends whose relationship is put to the test by the ups and downs of life over the course of 10 years.

Nicholas Gutierrez ’20, a director of the Dartmouth Film Society and projector at the Telluride festival who has attended the festival since he was a freshman, said he believes that this opportunity to experience the best in cinema is one that students should not miss.

“I think the festival is honestly my favorite part of the year because it is really cool to get to see a sneak peak of all these great films,” Gutierrez said. “Even though the beginning of the year is always really busy, it is definitely worth making the time to come together and see these films.” 

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