Telluride 2018: Documentary Overview

The 45th annual Telluride Film Festival

August 31-September 3

Seventeen of the influential Colorado festival’s 39 feature slots go to documentaries this year.


The main program includes several debuts: Werner Herzog and André Singer’s MEETING GORBACHEV, on the USSR’s final leader; Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s abortion-focused REVERSING ROE; Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s FREE SOLO, which follows the first person to ever climb Yosemite’s El Capitan Wall without ropes or safety gear; Charles Ferguson’s WATERGATE OR, HOW WE LEARNED TO STOP AN OUT-OF-CONTROL PRESIDENT, an in-depth examination of the infamous case that led to Nixon’s resignation; James Longley’s ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT, a longitudinal look at the youth of Kabul; John Chester and Molly Chester’s THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM, a chronicle of the filmmakers’ attempts to have their own farm outside of Los Angeles; and Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron’s GHOST FLEET, about efforts to stop slavery at sea by Thai activists.


Additional docs in the main slate include several titles that are making their premieres at Venice – Morgan Neville’s Orson Welles final years, THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD; Peter Bogdanovich’s celebration of Buster Keaton, THE GREAT BUSTER; and Rithy Panh’s Khmer Rouge focused GRAVES WITHOUT A NAME – as well as the Cannes debuting BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ by Pamela Green, on the under-recognized film pioneer.


Nonfiction makes up the whole of the fest’s Backlot section, devoted to films about the arts. Subjects include Orson Welles, once again, in Mark Cousins’ Cannes title THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES; Hal Ashby, in Any Scott’s Sundance premiere HAL; Peter Sellers, in Peter Medak’s Venice title THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS; influential film critic Pauline Kael, in Rob Garver’s WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL; Blue Note Records, in Eric Friedler’s IT MUST SCHWING! THE BLUE NOTE STORY; and Hugh Hefner, in Brigitte Berman’s HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK: SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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