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Hiding Up in Telluride, Silver on Screens

TELLURIDE, Colo. — In the local vernacular, the Telluride Film Festival is known as The Show. Each screening — of an Oscar aspirant, a restored classic, a provocative documentary, a slow and quiet piece of cinematic art — is its own show, but so is this town itself, a silver-mining outpost high in the San Juan Mountains long ago converted to an oasis of western-bohemian chic. The Show, which occurs every Labor Day weekend (this is the 38th edition), evokes the eager, collective do-it-yourself spirit of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musicals, as a school gymnasium, a restored opera house and a pocket-size park on the main street are converted into movie theaters. There is also plenty of the business of show, manifested in the names of sponsors read out before every screening, and in the presence of renowned filmmakers and big movie stars on the streets.

Ren Mendelson/Sony Pictures Classics

Shlomo Bar Aba in "Footnote," directed by Joseph Cedar.

Patrick Redmond

Mia Wasikowska and Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs.”

Liam Daniel/Sony Pictures Classics

Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung and Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in “A Dangerous Method,” directed by David Cronenberg.

Telluride’s mix of glamour and rusticity has a special charm. The selection of films tends to be eclectic and surprising, and the small size, short duration and remote location of the festival combine to give it a relaxed, informal atmosphere. The festival headquarters is called Brigadoon, and the event has an ephemeral, miragelike quality. For four days we’re all hanging out watching movies and comparing notes on them. You, me, my teenage son, the visiting film students with wide eyes and orange badges, the nice couple from Tucson, Werner Herzog, George Clooney, Glenn Close ... .

Ms. Close was in attendance because of “Albert Nobbs,” a lovely and surprising movie directed by Rodrigo García (“Mother and Child”). Introducing a screening on Friday night, Ms. Close, who is a producer and writer of the film, said that for 20 years she had tried to bring the project of adapting the Irish writer George Moore’s short story to fruition. (She appeared in a stage version in 1982.) The title character, played by Ms. Close, is a woman who has spent her adult life passing as a man, and who works as a waiter in a turn-of-the-20th-century Dublin hotel. It was hard to believe that the radiant blond movie star at the microphone and the taciturn, red-haired, slightly Chaplin-esque figure in the movie were the same person, but such incredulity is part of the delight we take in great acting.