By Ray Pride

Telluride Names 2018 Guest Director Jonathan Lethem


BERKELEY, CA – Telluride Film Festival, presented by National Film Preserve LTD., is proud to announce its 2018 Guest Director, Jonathan Lethem. The award-winning novelist, essayist and short story writer is set to select a series of films to present at the 45th Telluride Film Festival running over Labor Day Weekend, August 31 – September 3, 2018.

Festival organizers annually select one of the world’s groundbreaking artists to join them in the creation of the Festival’s program lineup. The Guest Director serves as a key collaborator in the Festival’s programming decisions, bringing new ideas and overlooked films to Telluride. In keeping with Telluride Film Festival tradition, Lethem’s film selections, along with the rest of the Telluride lineup, will be kept secret until Opening Day.


“Tom and I first met Jonathan through Criterion Collection,” said Telluride Film Festival executive director Julie Huntsinger. “Since then, we have forever been impressed with his knowledge of and enthusiasm for cinema.  We are thrilled to have him join us for the 2018 Festival!”

One of America’s greatest contemporary writers, Jonathan Lethem was born in 1964 in Brooklyn, NYC to artist Richard Lethem and late political activist Judith Lethem. His impressive body of work spans 10 novels, five short story collections, a novella, two books of essays, a comic series and writings in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and McSweeny’s. Lethem’s first genre-defying novel, Gun with Occasional Music (1994) experimented with science fiction and crime and gained him a strong cult following. In 1999, Lethem’s fifth novel Motherless Brooklyn met with significant commercial and critical success winning the National Book Critics Circle Award, Macallan Gold Dagger for Crime Fiction, Salon Book Award and was named Esquire’s book of the year. The film adaptation ofMotherless Brooklyn, directed by Edward Norton and starring Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe and Leslie Mann is currently in production and slated for a 2019 release. Lethem’s more recent novels include New York Times Bestseller The Fortress of Solitude (2003), You Don’t Love Me Yet (2007), Chronic City (2009), Dissident Gardens (2013) and A Gambler’s Anatomy (2016).  In 2005, Jonathan Lethem was the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

“From the very beginning for me, my love for literature and my love for film were splendidly mixed-up and inextricable,” said Lethem. “I always saw the two great 20th Century storytelling forms as speaking to and through one another. So, when by my great good luck I fell in with Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger, I immediately recognized them as being of my tribe; they feel the same resonance and have designed their wonderful festival in the mountains to reflect it. When I learned they’d involved writers I admire like Michael Ondaatje and Rachel Kushner and Geoff Dyer in the heart of the program, I was thrilled – and envious! I’m still pinching myself in disbelief that it’s my turn to play at programming the Dream Multiplex.”

Past Guest Directors include Joshua Oppenheimer, Volker Schlöndorff, Rachel Kushner, Guy Maddin, Caetano Veloso, Michael Ondaatje, Alexander Payne, Salman Rushdie, Peter Bogdanovich, B. Ruby Rich, Phillip Lopate, Errol Morris, Bertrand Tavernier, John Boorman, John Simon, Buck Henry, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Sondheim, G. Cabrera Infante, Peter Sellars, Don DeLillo, J.P. Gorin, Edith Kramer and Slavoj Žižek.

The Guest Director program is sponsored by FilmStruck, Turner’s subscription on-demand service that offers film aficionados a comprehensive and constantly refreshed library of films including an eclectic mix of contemporary arthouse, indie, foreign, cult and classic Hollywood films. FilmStruck is the exclusive streaming home to the Warner Bros. classic film library and the Criterion Collection. FilmStruck was developed by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and is managed by TCM in partnership with Warner Bros. and the Criterion Collection.

For more information about Jonathan Lethem, visit

For more information about Telluride Film Festival, visit

For more information about FilmStruck, visit


About Telluride Film Festival

The prestigious Telluride Film Festival ranks among the world’s best film festivals and is an annual gathering for film industry insiders, cinema enthusiasts, filmmakers and critics. TFF is considered a major launching ground for the fall season’s most talked-about films. Founded in 1974, Telluride Film Festival, presented in the beautiful mountain town of Telluride, Colorado, is a four-day international educational event celebrating the art of film. Telluride Film Festival’s long-standing commitment is to join filmmakers and film connoisseurs together to experience great cinema. The exciting schedule, kept secret until Opening Day, consists of over two dozen filmmakers presenting their newest works, special Guest Director programs, three major Tributes to guest artists, special events and remarkable treasures from the past. Telluride Film Festival is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational program. Festival headquarters are in Berkeley, CA.

About Our Sponsors

Telluride Film Festival is supported by Signature Sponsors: Turner Classic Movies, EY, Meyer Sound, Netflix; Major Sponsors: Amazon Studios, FilmStruck, ARRI, Participant Media, SAG Awards® & SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Universal Studios, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; Festival Sponsors: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Criterion Collection, Dolby, Dell, Inc., Boston Light & Sound; General Sponsors: Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association, National Endowment for the Arts; Hospitality Partners: Telluride Alpine Lodging, The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, New Sheridan Hotel, PUBLIC Hotel; Festival Auto Partner: Tesla; plus Fotokem, Spectrum, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Aesop and the Town of Telluride, among others.

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch