Thanks for checking out the first installment of The Srdtf News’s Weekend Awards Brief! This Friday week-in-review newsletter will be prepared by THR’s awards team and will feature a rundown of (a) key pieces we’ve written; (b) memorable things we’ve attended; (c) interesting rumblings we’ve heard; (d) things we encourage you to check out; and (e) things we’d like to know.
The authors of each item are identified by the following initials: awards editor Tyler Coates [TC], executive editor of awards Scott Feinberg [SF], film writer Mia Galuppo [MG], senior staff writer Chris Gardner [CGa], tech editor Carolyn Giardina [CGi], senior editor of film Rebecca Keegan [RK] and deputy awards editor Beatrice Verhoeven [BV].
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What we’re producing… A rundown of key pieces we’ve written
What we’re seeing… A recap of memorable things we’ve attended
The Telluride Film Festival got underway Friday morning with its annual Patrons Brunch. Among those mingling in the picturesque setting high up in the Rockies: Women Talking helmer Sarah Polley (who will receive a fest tribute tonight ahead of the film’s premiere) and her stars Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley (“It’s like we have a delegation,” Polley told RK); Anne Hathaway accompanying her Armageddon Time director James Gray (the indie darling who caught SF off-guard when he said he’d never been to the fest before); Close helmer Lukas Dhont and his leading (young) man Eden Dambrine; Alejandro G. Inarritu and his Bardo cast, straight off the plane from Venice; Empire of Light director Sam Mendes and producer Pippa Harris; Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, who are here with their doc about Robert Downey Sr., Sr.; and a cardboard cutout of former German chancellor Angela Merkel, the subject of a doc here at the fest, brought by its director, Eva Weber. —SF and RK
Telluride’s fest-launching Patron Preview screening on Friday afternoon, which fest organizers always keep secret (or try to) right up until showtime at the Werner Herzog Theatre, ended up being a documentary feature for only the second time (after He Named Me Malala in 2015): Bryan Fogel‘s follow-up to his Oscar-winning 2017 doc Icarus, this one called Icarus: The Aftermath. I won’t say much about how Fogel managed to continue the story of the Russian scientist who facilitated and blew the whistle on his country’s doping for the Olympics; just that it is similarly daring and riveting. The film is still without a U.S. distributor, but I cannot imagine, given its quality and uber-timeliness, that it won’t find one very soon, probably in time to join this year’s Oscar race. No sequel to an Oscar-winning documentary has ever been nominated — 2017’s An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow-up to 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth, was shortlisted — but there’s a first for everything! —SF
Jason Momoa, clutch and all, hit the red carpet outside the DGA Theater recently for the season three premiere of his epic (and bloody!) Apple TV+ series, See. While the show may not be a contender, the Aquaman star most certainly should be — for environmental activism. The event was flooded with aluminum-made Mananalu water bottles. “It’s beautiful because I don’t want people to use single use plastic,” he tells THR. “It’s like the only thing we can recycle infinitely. I even do utensils so that we don’t have to use the plastic ones on set.” In a season marked by excessive plastic use, we certainly tip our hat to Mr. Momoa. —CGa
What we’re hearing… A collection of interesting rumblings we’ve heard
Happy 60th birthday to Santa Barbara International Film Festival executive Roger Durling, whose birthday — Aug. 31 — always falls around the time of the Telluride Film Festival, which he has been attending for 30 years, and who celebrated on Thursday night with an intimate pre-fest dinner at La Marmotte.
Two of the more talented young people in the business, director Gabe Polsky and producer Justine Ciarrocchi, were married until earlier this year. They remain close friends and, as it turns out, both have films world premiering at the Toronto International FIlm Festival within 24 hours of each other: Polsky’s Butcher’s Crossing, which stars Nicolas Cage, is set for 9:30 p.m. EST on the night of Friday, Sept. 9, and Causeway, which Ciarrocchi produced with producing partner Jennifer Lawrence, who also stars in the film, will be unveiled at 5:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 10. Both intend to attend each other’s screenings. —SF
What we’re recommending… A few things we encourage you to check out
One of my Telluride traditions every year is deliberately forgetting my hat at home, so I “have” to buy a new one at the Overland Sheepskin store on Colorado Ave. While paying for this year’s edition, I met the mother of Alexa Tassone, a Telluride High grad (class of 2011) who’s now working as a production manager in L.A. and has a side hustle selling T-shirts for film crews with pithy sayings. My personal favorites from Tassone’s small business, called We’re Wrapped, are the “One More For Safety” and “Where’s Crafty?” shirts. —RK
In my final days of sort of having a life before getting overrun by the fall film fest circuit, I dove into two advance copies of books that I can highly recommend: The Academy and the Award: The Coming of Age of Oscar and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (on bookshelves Sept. 29), a tremendously in-depth history by former Academy executive director Bruce Davis in which Davis, among other notable things, appears to have finally solved the mystery of who nicknamed that naked gold man “Oscar” (spoiler alert: Bette Davis was full of it when she claimed she named it after the middle name of the first of her four ex-husbands); and Hollywood: The Oral History (out Nov. 8), by the great showbiz authorities Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson, which, drawing from the archives of the American Film Institute, uses the words of Hollywood’s biggest names to tell the story of the movies. In addition to being great reads, both tomes also provide the added value of serving as very effective doorstops. —SF
What we’d like to know… A few questions we’d like answered
As CGa has written, the overlapping of this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards and Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 12 is forcing some talent (e.g. Jean Smart), publicists, stylists and, yes, press, to choose between the two. (“My schedule in the next two weeks is terrifying,” explains A-list stylist Kate Young while another insider says the chaos imposed by the hectic calendar is nothing short of a “disaster.”) For those of us who will be staying in Toronto, where would be a fun place for an Emmys watch party? Asking for a friend. —SF
What we’re looking forward to… A summary of upcoming stuff that we’re excited about
The Toronto International Film Festival‘s fourth annual TIFF Awards Gala, a fundraiser for the fest’s diversity and inclusion efforts, continues to roll out an impressive list of talent that will be honored at its Sept. 11 gathering. This week, the fest announced that actress Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) will be feted with its inaugural Groundbreaker Award;
While the Emmy week party circuit has certainly not rebounded to what it was pre-pandemic, the coming days feature a swirl that comes close. We’ve started our red-carpet parties and events roundup with more events sure to be added in coming days. Hey, HBO, we’re looking at you! —CGa
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Throughout the long Labor Day weekend, you can continue to follow THR’s coverage from the Venice Film Festival (chief film critic David Rooney is reviewing titles from the Lido) and the Telluride Film Festival (SF, RK and film critic Sheri Linden are all covering the festivities in the Rockies). And special shout-out to THR’s own Katie Kilkenny, who, as in numerous years past, is a volunteer usher at Telluride’s Werner Herzog Theatre!