Telluride at Dartmouth Festival Kicks Off on Sept. 14

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The weeklong lineup Includes an alum’s film about musician Jon Batiste.

The Telluride Film Festival in Colorado
Films from the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado will also be seen at Telluride at Dartmouth. (Courtesy of the Telluride Film Festival) 

Offering a chance to see a half dozen new films before they show up in theaters, Telluride at Dartmouth is always a cinephile’s delight. And this year’s festival, which runs from Sept. 14 to 21, is extra special, featuring for the first time a film by an alumnus.

In American Symphony, acclaimed filmmaker Matthew Heineman ’05 chronicles a year in the life of powerhouse musician and composer Jon Batiste, a year filled with tremendous professional success amid his wife’s leukemia relapse.

Being able to include the movie in this year’s lineup is “a huge thrill,” says Sydney Stowe, director of film at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Composer Jon Batiste playing piano in movie "American Symphony"
American Symphony, from filmmaker Matthew Heineman ’05, documents a year in the life of musician and composer Jon Batiste. (Photo courtesy of Our Time Projects) 

Heineman is a very talented director, and Batiste, whose numerous awards include five Grammys in 2022, has performed at the Hop, Stowe says. “We love the connections.”

Also new in 2023 is the venue. With the expansion and renovation project underway at the Hop, the festival—part of the Hop’s 2023-24 season—will make its home in the 237-seat Loew Auditorium, with multiple screenings of each film.

And sadly, for the first time, Telluride at Dartmouth will proceed without its creator, Bill Pence, who died in December.

Pence, who co-founded the Colorado Telluride Film Festival and served as director of the Hop’s film program for more than three decades, will be honored at several campus events this year.

Her beloved boss for 19 years “always prioritized the audience experience,” Stowe said.

With the ongoing strikes in Hollywood, ever-increasing options for streaming, and movie-attendance still below pre-pandemic levels, Stowe hopes Telluride at Dartmouth will help remind people just how precious that experience can be.

Here’s the lineup:

Thursday, Sept. 14: American Symphony, an intimate look at an intensely eventful year in the professional and personal life of superstar artist Jon Batiste;

Friday, Sept. 15: The Holdovers, a comedy from director Alexander Payne (Sideways), about an unpopular prep school teacher, a student, and a cook marooned together over a snowy winter break;

Saturday, Sept. 16: Poor Things, featuring Emma Stone as a young woman who dies and is brought back to life by a brilliant, unorthodox scientist played by Willem Dafoe, and later embarks on an adventure with a slick lawyer played by Mark Ruffalo;

Sunday, Sept. 17: The Promised Land, in which a poor soldier played by Mads Mikkelsen is determined to improve his station in life and answers the king’s call to cultivate land in the barren Jutland heath. The historical drama is set in 18th-century Denmark;

Wednesday, Sept. 20, Fallen Leaves, a romantic comedy from Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki about two lonely people who meet by chance in Helsinki;

Thursday, Sept. 21: Anatomy of a Fall, a French legal thriller about a beloved father who falls to his death under mysterious circumstances at a mountain chalet, and his wife, a well-known writer who goes to trial for his murder.

Aimee Minbiole