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30th Telluride Film Festival Announces Special Guests to Attend ‘Show’

STEPHEN SONDHEIM to be Guest Director

TED TURNER to Receive the Silver Medallion

GARY LARSON to be Poster Artist

CANNES, FRANCE — At a special 30th Anniversary party hosted byVariety in Cannes, Telluride Film Festival Co-Directors Bill Pence andTom Luddy announced that an impressive trio will be honored andparticipate in the 2003 event: Gary Larson (The Far Side), festivalposter artist; Ted Turner, Silver Medallion honoree; and StephenSondheim, Guest Director. All three are scheduled to be present overLabor Day weekend at the Colorado event that is presented by theNational Film Preserve, Ltd. with Polo Ralph Lauren. Keeping withtradition, the program and also the full slate of attending filmmakers,tribute recipients, and presenters will not be revealed until the firstday of the festival.

As Guest Director, Sondheim will collaborate with Luddy and Pence tocurate and present some of the programs of the 2003 Festival. TedTurner will be honored with the Silver Medallion in recognition of hisunique contribution to film appreciation and preservation. Gary Larson(The Far Side) has been commissioned to create the 2003 festivalposter.

“Following the retirement of William K. Everson as our longtimeco-director, we began our policy of having a Guest Director work withus to select and present revivals of overlooked films,mini-retrospectives, and career tributes,” said Luddy. “For our 30thAnniversary Festival, we are thrilled to have Stephen Sondheim asTelluride’s Guest Director. He is of course universally celebrated asthe greatest composer/lyricist of the American Musical Theatre. But heis also a ‘film buff’ extraordinaire whose first job in show businesswas ‘clapper boy’ on John Huston’s 1954 Beat the Devil. In theTelluride tradition, Mr. Sondheim has curated a special retrospectivewith new 35mm prints of a major overlooked film artist. With thissection and several other exciting and imaginative selections, Stephenwill contribute immeasurably to the Festival’s 30th year.”

Previous Telluride Guest Directors have included Alberto Barbera(2002), Salman Rushdie (2001), Edgardo Cozarinsky (2000), Peter Sellars(1999), Peter Bogdanovich (1998), Peter von Bagh (1997), B. Ruby Rich(1996), Phillip Lopate (1995), John Simon (1994), John Boorman (1993),G. Cabrera Infante (1992), Laurie Anderson (1991), Bertrand Tavernier(1990), Errol Morris (1989), and Donald Richie (1988).

Stephen Sondheim earned his musical stripes alongside the best inthe business: his first foray into creating a musical was as lyricistto Leonard Bernstein’s composer for “West Side Story” (1957). After asecond lyrical outing with Jules Styne’s music for “Gypsy” (1959),Sondheim braved Broadway solo. Beginning with the saucy hit “A FunnyThing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1962), his series ofexperimental, witty, and challenging musicals revitalized a sluggishbox office and injected new life into what many believed was a dyingart form.

Among Sondheim’s other Broadway successes are: “Company” (1970), “ALittle Night Music” (1973), “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of FleetStreet” (1979), “Sunday in the Park with George,” (1984), which won thecomposer a Pulitzer Prize; “Into the Woods” (1987), “Assassins” (1990)and “Passion” (1994). Two of his classic musicals were adapted fromfilms by Ingmar Bergman and Ettore Scola. He wrote the scores for AlainResnais’ Stavisky and Warren Beatty’s Reds; and won anOscar for the song ‘Sooner or Later” which he composed for DickTracy.

In presenting the Silver Medallion this year to Ted Turner,Telluride recognizes his leadership in the preservation and utilizationof the American film.

“Ted Turner is a true visionary who has transformed the entirelandscape of film appreciation and preservation. When he purchased MGMin 1986, then sold off all the assets with the exception of the filmlibrary, which contained all the pre-1948 Warner Bros. titles, hedemonstrated a unique foresight. Ted anticipated the value ofAmerican’s film heritage – the genre films and programs, as well as theprestige titles – for coming forms of distribution and exhibition incable television and home entertainment. In so doing, he acted toensure the safe keeping of the entire MGM, Warners and RKO library, andset the example for other studios, eventually, to follow,” said Luddy.Adds Pence, “Since our first festival, and with the help of legendaryarchivists James Card and Henri Langlois, Telluride has championed filmpreservation. Now in our 30th year, we are proud to honor Ted Turnerfor his unparalleled feat in so forcefully influencing the preservationof the world’s film heritage and in establishing its true worth.”

R.E. “Ted” Turner is Vice Chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc. and amember of its board of directors. He is also a philanthropist,environmentalist, humanitarian, bison rancher and an avidoutdoorsman.

In 1980 Turner inaugurated CNN, the world’s first, live, in depth,round-the-clock new television networks. A second all-news service,Headline News, began operation in 1982, offering updated newscastsevery half-hour. Turner has made his mark as one of the mostinfluential philanthropists in the US. He directs most of hisphilanthropic activities through the Turner Foundation, which wasfounded in 1991, the United Nations Foundation, which was created in1997, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which was launched in2001.

Gary Larson returns to Telluride following the showing of his filmTales from the Far Side II, which premiered there in 1997. Eachyear, The Telluride Film Festival has been very fortunate to receivethe benefit of the talents of some of the greatest living visualartists. For each year’s Festival, a new artist is selected and a newpiece of art is commissioned. Some of the previous poster artists haveincluded David Salle, Ed Ruscha, Jim Dine, Francesco Clemente, andJulian Schnabel. The original work will be printed in poster form andwill grace the cover of the program guide.

“We are delighted that Gary Larson is the Poster Artist for our 30thAnniversary. He is a genuine cultural icon, one that for many years hasbrought smiles to millions of faces throughout the world,” said Pence.”In the tradition of another Telluride family member, the late ChuckJones, Gary is a comic artist of universal appeal whose uniquedepiction of animals informs our own humanity.”

Gary Larson never studied art other than in the classes required asa child. The now retired The Far Side thrived for 14 years in dailysyndication and appeared in more than 1,900 daily and Sunday newspapersworldwide and was translated into 17 languages. The comic is stillsyndicated internationally in about 200 newspapers in 40 foreigncountries. Larson has received numerous awards, including the RuebenAward for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from The NationalCartoonist society in 1991 and 1994.

In 1994, Larson completed his first animated film Tales From theFar Side, which won the Grand Prix at the 1995 Annecy InternationalAnimated Film Festival in France. A 22-minute version of the film airedin the U.S. as a Halloween special on CBS in 1994. Larson’s secondanimated film Tales From the Far Side II premiered in 1997 atthe Telluride and Venice Film Festivals. Talk to Her, Bowling forColumbine, Lovely and Amazing, Amelie, Russian Ark, Lantana, The FastRunner and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – among the mostcritically acclaimed films of the past couple years-all had their Worldor North American premieres at recent Telluride Film Festivals. LastLabor Day weekend, Peter O’Toole was honored with a career tribute sixmonths prior to receiving his honorary Academy Award. The Festivalprogram, which is kept secret until Opening Day, includes premieres,new features, remarkable rediscoveries, tributes, and documentaries,amidst unparalleled mountain scenery.

Sponsors of the 2003 Telluride Film Festival include Polo RalphLauren (Presenting Sponsor), Volkswagen, Vanity Fair, the town ofMountain Village, Bombay Sapphire, Virgin Atlantic Airways, StarzEncore Entertainment, Universal Operations Group, Sterling Vineyards,Turner Classic Movies, Neutrogena, Kodak, Polo Jeans, Dolby Digital,Kathy Kennedy and Frank Marshall, Ken Burns, Claudia Bloom and TomCruise. Special support is provided by the Academy Foundation of theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

For information on the 2003 Telluride Film Festival, taking place inColorado over Labor Day Weekend, August 29 through September 1, 2003,visit or call (603) 433-9202. Passes areon sale now. For travel and lodging, call Telluride CentralReservations at (800) 921-9463.