Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Step Forward

I just finished speaking on the telephone for the first time with Paul Gandell, with whom I will be staying during my time in Telluride. One perk of the Student Symposium is that the cost of lodging is waived for students with financial restrictions -- in lieu of renting a condominium or hotel for several days, qualifying students are personally arranged by the festival organizers to reside with citizens of the mountain town.

Paul lives in what he describes as a "noticeably green" two-story house with a white picket fence arranged along its perimeter, the dividing line between the Gandell residence and the town which for six days at the end of August and the beginning of September becomes a film lover's heaven. He has a young boy, his only child, who as of recently turned four years of age. I imagine that he could be a handful, but I have always taken well to children and so look forward to meeting a boy so fortunate as to grow up in a town where magic happens just beyond his property line.

As is my custom, I thanked Paul profusely for providing my lodging during the Telluride stay. He quickly confessed that, while he is more than happy to offer a room to me, he is being handsomely compensated with festival passes of his own. We shared a laugh at that moment. I told him that it sounded like he was getting a good deal with the arrangement. He didn't miss a beat when responding with, "Definitely a great deal." We laughed again.

A lot of our talk was introduction and formalities, but before we finished our discussion I asked Paul that always difficult and oftentimes unfair question -- I asked him to relate to me a favorite moment from a past festival. As I expected, his immediate answer was "There are so many." It took only four words to make me as giddy as when I first found out about my acceptance. Telluride's past, I realized, is filled with memories; in fact, is a source for memories. Again, he repeated his sentiment. "I have so many great memories and moments from the festivals, it's hard to pick just one."

Though, he eventually settled on a story surrounding Harvey Keitel, a couple of years back when he was being honored with one of three tributes given during the festival proper, a cinematic retrospective and ceremony of sorts. As the Telluride schedule is openly fluctuates (in terms of additions) even throughout the course of the festival proper, a screening of a unnamed movie came up at midnight. According to the program, it was a "New Harvey Keitel Movie" and listed the time. Now, nobody knew what was going on. Some people were there, but it wasn't terribly crowded as I understand, due to the mystery of the whole thing. But, Paul had just gotten out of work, so he went to see it.

As it turns out, the mystery film that Paul went to see (with Keitel in attendance) was none other than Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Paul told me that it was, by far, the most electric, outrageous, devastatingly pleasant surprise he had ever been a part of in TFF history. In his own words, "There was no better way to see it." Sounds like it, Paul. Now, I'm not sure if this screening was authorized or a big secret, but depending on what year this all went down, this could have been the first screening of the film ever. I don't know if that's true, considering Sundance claims that it debuted there. Paul didn't say this, but it was a thought I had. I am pretty sure however, that since Tarantino was a part of the Sundance Institute that the film premiered there in January of '92. Pretty sure.

In addition, Paul told me another related story about when Tim Roth (who acted in Reservoir Dogs) stopped into his sandwich shop another year -- apparently, they had a bit of a discussion, wherein Paul asked him about the title of the film. Roth wouldn't give away its secret. He said, "I don't know. It's really Quentin's thing and... I don't know." Great quote, I know, but the experience (even if unsuccessful in revealing the mystery) was a priceless one.

It was then that I realized that just like Paul was retelling his own experiences with such enthusiasm, it would not be long until I, too, would be able to the same. Telluride is actually happening -- it's no longer an opiate daydream, the whims of a cineaste from a small town. In eighteen days, as I told Paul, I will be eating lunch next to Werner Herzog and Ken Burns. I used that exact phrase as an example and, again without missing a beat, Paul responded: "Don't be too surprised if that actually happens." I about died.

I am looking forward to making my own memories at Telluride, meeting people who I have long seen from afar as inspirations towards achievement and changing my life, one step at a time.

1 comment:

Brandon Colvin said...

That sounds fantastic. The editor of Out 1, the blog I write for, did the same thing a few years ago and had the privilege of meeting Michale Haneke, William H. Macy, and the Dardenne Brothers (if I remember correctly). I hope to be part of the symposium next year.

Good luck! I look forward to reading about your experiences!

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