Telluride ‘23 certainly has the gay pathfinder biopic genre covered.

We’re talking two films about older gay people accomplishing something exceptional in the face of great difficulty or adversity — Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin‘s Nyad, a “you go, girl!” drama about 60ish long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, and George Wolfe‘s Rustin, about gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (1912-1987).

The latter film is produced by Michelle and Barack Obama‘s Higher Ground Productions.

Because Rustin is (a) about a Black gay activist and (b) emanating from the Obamas (will they attend Telluride’s opening-day brunch?) it will be hailed in progressive showbiz circles as close to the Second Coming, plus star Colman Domingo (whom I’ve always liked) will be pushed as a Best Actor contender, and who will argue against this?

Being gay isn’t a political ideology, although it’s certainly a “yay-yay” thing in progressive circles. Highlighting and promoting gay bravery and assertiveness as the absolutely glorious and wonderful things they are because we all need make a really big positive deal out of gay characters whenever and however they appear, especially at Telluride with the Obamas present…that’s the political side of things.

All I know is that apart from Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers, the two films I was really excited about catching at Telluride are (or were, I should say) Woody Allen‘s Coup de Chance, which of course won’t play there because of the Stalinist refusenik Woody haters, and Tran Anh Hung’s The Pot au Feu, which I praised during the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and would absolutely love to re-watch in the Rockies.

I wept when I learned that IFC Films and Sapan Studios have acquired Tran Anh Hung’s foodie masterpiece. I don’t know for a fact that The Pot au Feu will be absent from Telluride, but IFC Films distribution deals have always been tantamount to a kiss of death. It’s certainly a guarantee that a first-rate, ecstatically reviewed European film will not be vigorously publicized and hooplah-ed.

What IFC Films seems to do, in fact, is acquire exciting, critically hailed titles only to suffocate and bury them. The Pot au Feu hasn’t been announced as a Toronto Film Festival title either. Things could always turn for the better but right now IFC Film’s Scott Shooman is the apparent villain in this scenario.

Between the certain absence of Coup de Chance, the feared absence of The Pot au Feu and the SAF/AFTRA strike restrictions, my expectations for Telluride ’23 are dimming by the moment.

I was hoping that Bradley Cooper‘s Maestro (Netflix) might appear at Telluride….nope! The word on the street is that it will debut at the New York Film Festival.

I was hoping that Ridley Scott‘s Napoleon (Apple/Sony, 11.22) might debut at Telluride….nope!

I would also love to see Roman Polanski‘s The Palace….nope! Bad person, suppress his film (a black comedy) at all costs, etc.

I’m despairing and downhearted. My spirit is leaking out of me like sand. Whatta bummer, man.

From Jordan Ruimy’s 2023 Toronto Film festival report: