It’s true that New England has a lot of annual film festivals, but none have quite reached the prominence and popularity of events like Sundance or Telluride. Fortunately for those of us living north of Boston, one of the organizers of Telluride, Bill Pence, happens to live in Portsmouth. Better yet, he and his wife are happy to help bring the cream of the Telluride crop to their local digs to indulge those of us not willing to fork out the money to fly to Colorado.
Next weekend, the eleventh season of Telluride by the Sea comes to the beautiful Music Hall in downtown Portsmouth, bringing with it three days of the world’s best contemporary cinema. These films are fresh off their debuts at Telluride, which means in many cases they may not make it to the actual cinema for months. Trust the LFC on this one, as we are speaking from our own fantastic experience with Telluride by the Sea – if you are a world cinema fan, you owe it to yourself to head up to Portsmouth for this event.
Here’s this year’s schedule:
- Coco Before Chanel
Friday, Sept. 18 / 7:30 p.m.
Anne Fontaine traces famed designer Coco Chanel’s early life, from French orphanage and years as a barroom chanteuse to the development of her distinctive fashion aesthetic. Haute couture—and the sense of an artist coming into her own—has seldom been as wondrous to behold. Featuring a superb, understated performance by Audrey Tautou (Amélie).
- The Solitary Life of Cranes & The Last Truck
Saturday, Sept. 19 / 2 p.m.; Monday, Sept. 21, / 7:30 p.m.
Part city symphony, part visual poem, The Solitary Life of Cranes explores the invisible life of London, its patterns and hidden secrets, seen through the eyes of crane drivers working far above its streets. The Last Truck: Two days before Christmas 2008, the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio closed and 2,700 people lost their jobs. Last Truck views the plant’s final months through the workers’ eyes as they reflect on the pride they take in their product and re-imagine their future.
- The Last Station
Saturday, Sept. 19 / 6:30 p.m.
Writer-director Michael Hoffman (Restoration) delivers a thrilling comic-dramatic account of Leo Tolstoy’s final months. Played with quiet authority by Christopher Plummer, our Tolstoy has renounced writing fiction, built a school to educate peasants and advocates socialism, pacifism and sexual chastity.
- An Education
Saturday, Sept. 19 / 8:45 p.m.
We would say to remember Carey Mulligan’s name, but after seeing this 24-year-old’s debut, there’s no chance you’ll forget it. In director Lone Scherfig’s irresistible coming-of-age story, adapted by Nick Hornby from journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir.
Sunday, Sept. 20 / 2 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
For 40 years, writer-director Marco Bellocchio has been a ferocious critic of Italian institutions: family, church and political system. His latest is no different but now tinged with the plaintive sadness of a mature master. Vincere follows the tragic story of Benito Mussolini’s mistress Ida Dalser, who bore Il Duce a son and whose desperate efforts to be acknowledged ensured her doom.
- Bright Star
Sunday, Sept. 20 / 6:15 p.m.
The consuming but unconsummated passion between the poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne spawned some of the most celebrated love letters in literary history. In the lyrical and lushly expressive new film by Jane Campion (The Piano), Abbie Cornish gives a beautifully nuanced performance as the shy young seamstress whose knowledge of both poetry and human desire deepens under the thrall of the brilliant young bard (Ben Whishaw).