Even with the Telluride Film Festival's unconventional programming philosophy, movie stars are no strangers to the get-together — recent visitors to the annual Labor Day weekend gathering in Colorado have included Viggo Mortensen, Colin Firth, Carey Mulligan, James Franco and Laura Linney. But apparently the festival has been a bit overwhelmed by the mega-wattage of this year’s celebrity guest: George Clooney, who is receiving (along with Tilda Swinton) a Telluride tribute, along with a screening of his new film, “The Descendants.”
In an atypical note, festival organizers have instructed the handful of media representatives in this Colorado ski town to leave their cameras in their condos. “I wanted to give you notice that there will be no photography allowed inside the theaters at any of the George Clooney events,” the festival wrote in an email. “This includes the tribute and screenings, intros and Q&As of ‘The Descendants.’”
Lest it appear that the star of “Michael Clayton,” “Up in the Air,” "Ocean’s Eleven” and the upcoming “The Ides of March” (which Clooney also directed) was throwing his slim weight around, reporters and bloggers promptly received a follow-up dispatch, saying that the photo ban wasn’t Clooney’s doing.
“This is not a request made by Clooney or his publicists,” the second email said. “It was a decision made by festival organizers to try and keep things sane inside the theaters and focused on the event. Clooney is still very much, as one journalist put it, a ‘man of the people!’”
Unlike the Cannes, Sundance and Toronto festivals, Telluride has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone using a cellphone inside an auditorium. One unlucky visitor’s mobile phone rang during a screening several years ago, and she was promptly kicked out of the theater for the rest of the show.
Still, Clooney’s presence in this resort — festival patrons are set to get an early peek at “The Descendants” on Friday, ahead of its festival showings on Saturday, Sunday and Monday — has caused more than a small stir along Telluride’s main street, Colorado Avenue. Of the first three film festival conversations overheard along the town’s main drag Thursday afternoon, every single one was a version of “Did you hear George Clooney is here?”
Telluride Film Festival Lineup
Clooney's "Ides of March" premieres in Venice
First trailer from Clooney's "The Descendants" unveiled
-- John Horn in Telluride, Colo.
Photo: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight.