Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Top Secret" / Dreams

It was only days ago, upon returning to the United States from abroad, that I received my official acceptance packet to the 35th Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium. Holding it in my hands, I sensed that it was thick with secrets of what was in store for the Symposium. It was only later, while perusing the material included, that I remembered a longtime Telluride tradition. I had forgotten that Telluride's secrets were beyond "top secret."

Ever since the 3rd Telluride Film Festival, the organizers of the festival have made the decision to keep the program line-up a closely guarded secret. Nobody is in the know (besides the festival organizers) as to who or what films will be in Telluride for the six-day experience. Even for those involved in the Student Symposium, we're left almost entirely clueless. Now, this time-honored tradition is part of what makes this particular festival experience so endearing -- not only does Telluride promise an unequivocal experience for the viewer and student, but the details are entirely a mystery.

Even with my "top secret" packet of information and travel documents, the festival's organizers continue to keep both the students and the thousands of attendees in unimaginable anticipation. In fact, the process reminds me a bit of Christmas gifts. I could ask, and I might get an answer, but do I really want to spoil the surprise? The answer is no.

It is remarkable, though, that every year the festival sells out all of its passes based purely on its reputation. Festival-goers bank on their past experience or knowledge communicated through alternative channels about how mind-blowing the festival line-up traditionally is. Attendees have not even a remote inclination about what to expect beforehand -- but, on arrival, the schedule is presented to them and the proverbial man behind the curtain revealed.

As I rather literally lie in wait for the festival to begin here in my Evanston apartment bedroom, a dream enters my mind that for the festival, echoes again and again to me as a distinct possibility. It is my dream and (perhaps naive) hope that American filmmaker Spike Lee will be present at the festival. Here's another theory for you, as an explanation of why this is not exactly impossible. Spike Lee has a film set to be released in theatres as of September 26th, 2008, Miracle at St. Anna. As of yet, no information (that I am aware of) has been made public about its debut at another film festival during the summer. This, to me, signals that Telluride for Lee could actually be happening.

If Lee is at Telluride when I arrive, I will undoubtedly combust based upon the stimulus. To be safe, I plan to bring a copy of the academic paper I wrote on Lee's A Huey P. Newton Story with me to Telluride. This is the paper that I wrote for Jacqueline Stewart's class on Spike Lee and that I presented at the University of Notre Dame's 2nd Annual Midwest Undergraduate Film Conference. The paper is also currently being considered for the 2008 Frank Capra Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Criticism. Fingers crossed on all accounts, I'd say.

More information/exposition later, but in the meantime, please feel free to check out Chris Gore's (of Film Threat) coverage of the 33rd Telluride Film Festival here (in three parts). Enjoy.

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