Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Chance Meeting With Leonard Maltin

Early on Friday morning, at approximately 9:30 A.M., I made the decision to head down to the Staff Clubhouse in Telluride to grab a bit of breakfast. I wasn't quite certain as to the exact location of the clubhouse, so I was sort of ambling along down sidestreets and dusty trails, in an attempt to find the necessary sustenance to get me through the day. Pretty soon, I became relatively lost (albeit that Telluride's a small town).

As one does when lost, I looked about to see if someone in the vicinity could assist me with directions. Only two individuals stood within proximity - at the time, I had no idea who these people were. Without thinking, I approached with the aim of asking directions. As I asked the requisite direction-related, only then did I realize that I had approached renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. Let's have that again. I was asking Leonard Maltin for directions.

Maltin is the current president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the movie reviewer of Entertainment Tonight and teaches at the University of Southern California (USC) in their Cinema Studies department.

Our meeting is particular peculiar on the account that only a week before Telluride I had been looking at the USC website for Cinema Studies as consideration for graduate studies; in particular, I explored Maltin's biography and information on the course he taught at the university.

So, here I was, having gone from Maltin on my computer monitor to inches away from me, in real life. Talk about life-changing.

Maltin was standing on the sidewalk with his daughter Jessie near Telluride's gondola station when I approached. Both, I learned, were waiting for transportation to arrive to take them to their condo. He and his daughter were beyond cordial, even helpful as to the location of the Staff Clubhouse. After pointing out the location, the three of us talked about the festival, how it was my first time and how Jessie had been coming since she was ten (and she's only a year older than me). We also talked about USC. Maltin answered some questions that I had about the school, with particular attention to his course and then we parted ways. I thanked them for the jovial discussion and mentioned that it was lovely to meet them.

I left from the conversation ecstatic at having for the first time experienced the magic of the Telluride Film Festival. I was bright-eyed, having realized that the first story of many to come had just happened. Little did I realize that the Sunday afterwards, I would run into Jessie Maltin again at a concessions stand outside Le Pierre (one of the festival theatres) and our having met on the Friday before would be the cause of a wistful and striking conversation that ran the gamut from jazz music to linguistics. It was, in short, quite excellent.

She and I exchanged contact information thereafter and, having returned to Chicago, I look forward to our continued correspondence and our next meeting. Hanging out with her in Telluride and having one of those rare wittily magnificent conversations was one of the many experiences I will never forget from Telluride. Here's to more of such memories to come!

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