I was surprised to hear a couple of days ago that Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation (Fox Searchlight, 10.7) will not make an appearance at the Telluride Film Festival. That’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser for a festival regarded as a significant Best Picture harbinger, and one that Fox Searchlight has often favored (and vice versa) in years past. 

Most handicappers will tell you that Birth is a likely Best Picture nominee, especially in a year in which Academy and guild members are expected to “get their black on” to atone for last year’s Oscars So White narrative.

Parker’s film will play Toronto, I’m told, but not Telluride. You could presume this is because Telluride honchos are disinclined to present films that, like The Birth of a Nation, premiered at Sundance eight months earlier. 

This rule-of-thumb is likely to be challenged, however, if and when Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester By The Sea, which also had its debut at Sundance ’16, turns up in Telluride, which I understand is probable.

HE’s Telluride 2016 spitball lineup so far: Manchester By The Sea, Damian Chazelle‘s La-La Land (Venice Film Festival opener), Pablo Larrain‘s Neruda (Cannes) and Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival (Venice).

Even though Tom Ford‘s Nocturnal Animals (Focus, 11.18) is playing Venice, I’m told it won’t play Telluride. Nor will Jeff NicholsLoving, another Focus film. This despite having played well in Cannes.

It would be logical, symmetrical and reasonable for Asghar Farhadi‘s The Salesman (Cannes), Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation (Cannes) and Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey (Cannes) to play Telluride, but who knows?

I would love to see the power-punch duo of Martin Scorsese‘s Silence (Paramount, opening in November) and Ang Lee‘s Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk (TriStar, 11.11) to appear at Telluride, but I don’t expect either one to make the trek. Or play Toronto, for that matter. I’ve been sensing caution and/or uncertainty from the Scorsese camp all along. And Billy Lynn, I’m guessing, it going to be hung up in HFR tech issues until late in the game. But I could be wrong.

I hate, hate, hate the idea of Maren Ade‘s Toni Erdmann playing Telluride, but I may as well resign myself to the possibility.

Forget Warren Beatty‘s No Rules Apply getting any kind of brouhaha treatment before late October or early November.

As previously noted, Olivier Assayas‘ totally brilliant Personal Shopper has been designated as a Telluride no-no. Look for this ghost puppy to turn up in Toronto and/or the New York Film Festival.