Telluride, Colorado: A Lack of Theaters Yeilds an Impromptu Open Air Cinema at the Telluride Film Festival
Nearly a century ago, immortal talents such as the Marx Brothers, Sarah Bernhardt, Houdini and Lillian Gish journeyed to the remote mining town of Telluride, Colorado to entertain the miners in the Sheridan Opera House. Today, the venerable Sheridan still stands and welcomes the show people of our times. In this restored, historic, antique gem beats the heart of the Telluride Film Festival: it is that building's antique sign, reading simply "SHOW," that inspires so many of its traditions. Since the Opera House is one of only three existing year-round theaters in the town, six more must come alive each Labor Day weekend for the Telluride Film Festival. A Victorian-flavored theatre emerges from the town's Masonic Hall, a high school auditorium is transformed into the state-of-the-art Palm Theater, the middle school gym morphs into the MeliГ©s-inspired Galaxy, intimate spaces on opposite sides of town form the Pierre and Backlot Theaters, and the Mountain Village Conference Center puts on its bunny ears to become Chuck Jones' Cinema. There's even an open-air cinema built in the park to enjoy the hot new films in the cool mountain nights. Out of necessity, they've been built, but we'd like to think that each theater has its own special character; unique spaces that infuse the films shown there with a little extra zest. Each venue is distinct, and like great character actors, each fleshes out the whole of the film-going experience. That's just another part of The Show.