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Telluride: The quiet Americans

August 31, 2008 |  3:17 pm

Loved1_2

The Telluride Film Festival doesn't have the word "international" in its title, but considering how few home-grown films are showing at this weekend's gathering, it wouldn't be a bad idea to add some sort of worldly adjective to the festival's official name.

Telluride_blog_pg_190 Of the 18 new feature-length dramas showing in the festival's 35th annual installment, only two new films -- "Adam Resurrected" and "American Violet" -- are clearly American-made, but director Paul Schrader's "Adam" was partially financed by foreign producers and filmed in Germany, Romania and Israel. Between the two films added to the Telluride schedule as sneak previews, Marc Abrahams' "Flash of Genius" is a pure studio film, but while Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" will be distributed by Fox Searchlight, it was financed by the English and the French and shot in India.

"Some years we have a lot of foreign films, and some years we don't," says festival co-director Tom Luddy, who says it's not an intentional slight this year.

Cantalupo1_5 But the near complete absence of American movies in this Colorado mountain hamlet may underscore a more worrisome trend: that some of the highest-quality movies are being made far from American soil. Among the best-received Telluride titles are "I've Loved You So Long," a French drama about estranged sisters starring Kristin Scott Thomas (top); and "Gomorrah," an Italian crime story set in the world of toxic waste disposal and garment manufacturing that stars Salvatore Cantalupo (left).

There are so many distinctive movies being made overseas, in fact, that Sony Pictures Classics, which is distributing "I've Loved You So Long" in late October, isn't sure its film will be France's official submission for the foreign-language Oscar next year. "They just have too many great films," Sony's Michael Barker says. It's something that can't currently be said of the United States.

--John Horn

Photos courtesy Telluride Film Festival

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