EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 12, 2013

Big Screen Bonanza

Telluride by the Sea brings world-class film festival to Portsmouth

by Kelly Burch

---- — PORTSMOUTH – When you think of film festivals, you may picture the French coast, or open western skies. Next weekend, however, world-class film festival comes right into our backyard as Telluride by the Sea kicks off in Portsmouth.

The festival, now in its 15th year, brings viewers six movies fresh from their debut at the Telluride Film Festival, which took place Labor Day weekend in Telluride, Colo. Telluride by the Sea’s six films air over three days from Sept. 20 to 22, with additional screenings for passholders.

“We’re again in store for a sensational weekend of film, food and fun,” said Chris Curtis, programming coordinator for The Music Hall, which hosts the event. “It’s a great time of year, and it’s great to see the whole town energized!”

The festival’s films feature big names, including Brad Pitt, Bruce Dern (winner of Cannes best actor prize) and Kristin Scott Thomas, as well as international stars such as Irrfan Khan and Daniel Auteuil.

Keeping with a Telluride tradition, this year the film festival will celebrate silent films by screening three classics: “Safety Last,” “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” and “Lonesome.” The Silent’s Please series is available only to weekend pass holders, and will be screened at The Loft, around the corner from the main venue.

To get the most out of the festival, Curtis advises buying a pass to all of the weekend’s festivities.

“When you commit to the whole weekend, it pays off,” he says. “ It’s TFI – Total Film Immersion.”

Here are the films that are showing at the 2013 Telluride by the Sea festival:

“Nebraska” (USA, 110 minutes, courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Woody (Bruce Dern) is a booze addled alcoholic. Convinced that he’s won a mail-order sweepstakes, he embarks on a cross-country journey, his youngest son David (Will Forte) playing Sancho to his Don Quixote. Telluride favorite Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) creates a bittersweet elegy to the American extended family.

“The Invisible Woman” (UK, 111 minutes, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

A rich Victorian tale of romance and secrets. Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes, who also directs), Britain’s preeminent creative force at the height of his fame, falls in love with a struggling 18-year-old actress, Nelly (Felicity Jones), thus beginning a torrid, long-term affair. Kristin Scott Thomas also stars.

“12 Years A Slave” (UK, 134 minutes, courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures)

From director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame). Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner (Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life. Film contains sequences of harrowing violence.

“Before the Winter Chill - Avant l’hiver” (France, subtitled, 103 minutes, courtesy of TF1)

Kristin Scott Thomas and Daniel Auteuil star in this subtle story of a man in the autumn of his life, torn between a loving wife and his dangerous attraction for a troubled, mysterious young woman. Novelist-filmmaker Philippe Claudel’s second film offers an unforgettable glimpse at the skeleton beneath the elegant skin of suburban gentility.

“The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden” (USA, 126 minutes, courtesy of Geller/Goldfine Productions)

Darwin meets Hitchcock in this documentary. Directors Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine have created a parable about the search for paradise, set in the brutal yet alluring landscape of the Galapagos Islands, which interweaves an unsolved 1930s murder mystery with stories of present day Galapagos pioneers. A gripping tale of idealistic dreams gone awry, featuring voice-over performances by Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, and Gustaf Skarsgard.

“The Lunchbox” (India, subtitled, 105 minutes, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

Winner of the critic’s week viewer’s choice award at Cannes. A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a lonely young housewife (Nimrat Kaur) to a nearly retired number cruncher (Irrfan Khan, “Slumdog Millionaire”), as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox. The story of the life we dream of versus the life in which we live, and of the courage it takes to turn fantasies into reality, in this elegant Chekhovian comedy-drama.

If You Go What: Telluride by the Sea film festival. Where: The Music Hall, Portsmouth. When: Friday, Sept. 20 to Sunday, Sept. 22. How: Individual movie tickets $15 ($13 for members); weekend pass $85; Patron Pass $200. Visit www.themusichall.org or call 603-436-2400. Schedule of Events Friday 7:30 p.m.: "Nebraska" 9:30 p.m.: "Radici" (Patron Pass holders) Saturday 11 a.m.: Silents, Please! "Safety Last!" 2 p.m.: "The Lunchbox" 4 to 5 p.m.: Cinemange 6:15 p.m.: "The Invisible Woman" 8:50 p.m.: "12 Years a Slave" Sunday 10:30 a.m.: "Silents, Please!: "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc" 12 to 1 p.m.: "Patron Pholder Brunch at The District" 1:30 p.m.: "Before the Winter Chill" 4 p.m.: Silents, Please!: "Lonesome" 6:30 p.m.: "The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden" After Screening: "Brewery Wrap Party"