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Telluride Changes Directors

2957118_2 Somehow Telluride Fest's Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy and Gary Meyer managed to keep the news of the Pence's retirement and Meyer's new job as festival co-director under wraps until today. Here's the release:

(Telluride, CO) Gary Meyer, specialized film exhibitor, distributor, programmer and curator of international distinction, has been named by the Board of Governors of the National Film Preserve, Ltd. to succeed co-founder Bill Pence as co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, it was announced today. Before the end of the year, Pence and his wife, Managing Director Stella Pence, will step down after 33 years as two of the chief executives of one of the world’s most eccentric, and most influential, arts events. The Pences’ founding partner, Tom Luddy, will retain his position as co-director.

A resident of Oakland, California, Gary Meyer comes to Telluride’s co-director position with vast experience in the motion picture arts industry. He opened his first theater when he was 12 years old in the family barn in Napa to show silent and foreign classics. In 1975, he co-founded the Landmark Theatre Corporation that became the only national cinema circuit consistently exhibiting first run independent, international and specialized films. Meyer’s team helped launch dozens of renowned international and independent directors and also provided guidance to foreign directors seeking U.S. distribution. He was also co-producer of the collections of short animated films known as “The Tournee of Animation” and “Animation Celebration.” The distribution company Gary and his partners set up to release these packages also distributed features by a variety of acclaimed directors including Akira Kurosawa and Francois Truffaut. When Landmark was sold in 1996, the chain had grown to 150 screens in 19 markets.

Gary Meyer has co-produced numerous film festivals and special series that have introduced national cinemas and trends to U.S. audiences including Japanese Anime, Hong Kong Cinema and “New Directions” from a variety of countries including Russia, Brazil, France, Greece, Italy and Australia. In 1976 he started IDEAS, a consulting firm specializing in entertainment related projects. In February 2001, Meyer decided to save a 1926 neighborhood theatre from extinction, San Francisco’s Balboa Twin, which has since enjoyed a comeback with quality and innovative programming.

Meyer became a Telluride regular when he attended the 2nd Festival in 1975. During the last five years, Gary Meyer has collaborated in the selection process for Telluride as a Resident Curator; and as a member of the Festival’s Board of Governors, he has been involved in policy formation at the highest level.

The Telluride Film Festival was created in 1974 by James Card, Tom Luddy, and Bill and Stella Pence. The Town of Telluride was just then beginning the transition from a quiet mountain mining town into what would become a major tourist destination and resort. Silent film diva Gloria Swanson received a tribute at the first festival. Subsequent tribute recipients – three per year – have represented all disciplines of cinematic expression and have included Francis Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Werner Herzog, Chuck Jones, King Vidor, Michael Powell, Elmer Bernstein, Clint Eastwood, Cab Calloway, Alexander Trauner, Peter O’Toole, John Alton and Andrei Tarkovsky to name just a few. The Telluride Film Festival has debuted many important international films such as Louis Malle’s MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET, Ken Burns’ THE CIVIL WAR, Pedro Almodovar’s WOMAN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, Neil Jordan’s THE CRYING GAME, Michael Moore’s ROGER AND ME, Sofia Coppola’s LOST IN TRANSLATION, and last year’s CAPOTE and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Unique among film festivals, Telluride has celebrated cinema’s past with equal prominence by exhibiting recent restorations, honoring lesser known and neglected film artists and by championing film preservation. In 1979, it was at Telluride where 92-year-old director Abel Gance appeared with his restored silent 1927 masterpiece NAPOLEON. This led, two years later, to an unprecedented international tour, with full orchestra, that would become a watershed event in film preservation and restoration world-wide.

Often cited as one of the most distinctive features of the Telluride Film Festival is its relaxed and amiable atmosphere, where the film artists, industry, press, students, the staff and film lovers come together to share their passion for cinema. The press and industry purchase their passes along with the public and celebrities mix freely with those in attendance throughout the Labor Day weekend. Telluride is also idiosyncratic in that it is the only major international film festival that keeps its program and guests a secret until the Festival opens.

Bill and Stella Pence will continue on the Festival team as advisors to both management and programming. Stella’s position of Managing Director has not yet been filled: that search process has just begun. Gary Meyer begins work as co-director of the 2007 Telluride Film Festival as the current 33rd Festival closes September 4.

As they depart their stewardship of the ‘SHOW’ (as it is known to participants) the Pences recalled the words of long time Festival friend and supporter Chuck Jones, who each year instructed the festival staff: “In every major undertaking, there are two key components, hard work and love. But only the love must show.”



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