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Attending Telluride Film Festival: An Interview with John

This year was the 41st Telluride Film Festival, John got to enjoy the amazing location and one of the best (if not the best) film festivals to attend the premiere of Errol Morris’ “Three Films About Peace.” (He composed music that was used in 2 of the 3 films.) 

Jason Springarn-Koff (New York Times), Errol Morris, Steven Hathaway and John Kusiak

Jason Springarn-Koff (New York Times), Errol Morris, Steven Hathaway and John Kusiak

Here’s an excerpt from the Variety review:

Each of these 15-minute films focuses on a champion of world peace, filmed in Morris’ proprietary, face-to-face, “Interrotron” style: Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, whose nonviolent protest movements led to the ouster of corrupt dictator Charles Taylor; former Polish president and Solidarity leader Leach Walesa; and rocker Bob Geldof, whose Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 charity projects have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in support for Africa. 

Curiously, the films grew out of Morris’ assignment to make a series of World Cup commercials for Visa, but the only thing being sold in these beautifully crafted and very moving portraits is the hopeful notion that one person really can change the world. (Following their Telluride premieres, the films will be available for streaming on the New York Times’ Op-Docs video channel starting next month.)

Welcome back. Who did you run into? (Any other composers?)

Though I can’t say I “ran into” any of these people, there were a few celebrity sightings: Jon Stewart was eating at the same restaurant one afternoon and we saw the filmmakers Werner Herzog, Francis Coppola and Guy Maddin. 

Although I would have loved to, I didn’t run into any other composers, but was happy to spend time with Steven Hathaway and Kim Bica who were the editors on the projects. Steven, Kim and I went to as many films as possible.

What was the the most surprising film you saw and what was surprising?

“Birdman” with Michael Keaton was the most surprising film. The whole movie plays as one long tracking shot (pretty surprising!), although it’s most likely made up of a number of them seamlessly strung together. It was funny and yet full of deeper meaning.

Any other films to mention?

“Mommy” by Xavier Dolan was amazing. It’s his 5th film and he’s only 25! “Leviathan” is all in Russian and is kind of a Kafka-esque version of the story of Job in which the film’s main character is ultimately crushed by the forces of evil. Dark, very dark, but really good.

What was your favorite part of the whole weekend?

I’d have to say that being able to attend the premiere of the Errol Morris films was the high point. They were screened at the Werner Herzog Theater in Telluride on a massive screen with an amazing sound system. They looked and sounded fantastic.