"Every year, people make pilgrimages to Telluride from all over the world just for this festival," says Pence, "and we would like to encourage people in town to find out why."
A few years after the Telluride Film Festival's 1979 screening of Napoleon inaugurated the Elks Park outdoor Abel Gance theater, festival Director of Operations Jim Bedford decided the open-air theater should be employed for more than just the four-day Film Festival weekend.
Early screenings, he furthermore reasoned, would give locals -- as well as festival volunteers -- a chance to see movies they might otherwise miss. Over the past 20 years, the pre-festival screenings have offered anyone who wants a head start on gleaning the cinematic information and movie-lore that will be fully explored over the weekend.
"It's no secret that Buck Henry is this year's Guest Director," says Pence. "And I know that anyone who sees him in Taking Off on Wednesday night will really want to give him a Telluride welcome" -- something they will be able to do.
Thursday night, however, before-the-festival filmgoers will face the first of many of those hard-to-make decisions that comprise the whole of Labor Day Weekend for festivalgoers: Which film will they choose to see tonight?
Pence is delighted to announce that a brand-new 35 millimeter print has been struck of American Graffiti, especially for the sneak peek Thursday night show at The Chuck Jones Cinema at 7:30 p.m.
The film, he adds ever-so-cryptically, "relates to several festival programs and also marks the start of a new tradition of opening the festival with a film in the Mountain Village."
Down in Elks Park that same night, however, and beginning at 8:30 p.m. in the Abel Gance Open Air Cinema is The Motorcycle Diaries, which, Variety notes, had its "rapturously received world premiere at Sundance" this year. Of that Elks Park screening, Pence will say only say that it "relates to one of the festival guests." Hmmm…could it be Walter Salles, its director, who will be introducing the Thursday night screening?
Still, given the fact that films which have already premiered in the United States are disqualified from inclusion in the Telluride Film Festival, that's all the more reason to attend this particular pre-festival show.
It is, of course, Film Festival tradition to keep the audience guessing, with only bits and pieces of information slipping out until the day the festival begins, when The Telluride Watch's Film Watch hits the streets.
So get out the Visine, and get ready for the big screen!