And the winner is …
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Surely, it can’t be an accident or mere coincidence that five of the last six Best Picture winners had their world premiers at the Telluride Film Festival, including, of course, this year’s winner, “12 Years a Slave.”
So says Seth Cagin, publisher of The Telluride Watch. He observes that Telluride’s run of Oscar glory began with “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008, followed by “The King’s Speech” (2010), “The Artist” (2011), “Argo” (2012) and now “12 Years a Slave.”
“Gravity,” another film premiered at Telluride last summer, also scored big this year, giving the two films 9 of 24 major awards.
Cagin says that Telluride’s biggest rivals in the film festival business are Toronto and Venice, and he thinks Telluride’s star is rising because, most fundamentally, success begets success. “If the most important role for a festival, from the industry perspective, is to create buzz for serious films that might have difficulty attracting an audience, Telluride has proven it can deliver,” he says. “The Telluride audience is famously adventurous and willing to give everything on the program a fair viewing.”
Too, he says, filmmakers love Telluride.
And who wouldn’t, on Labor Day Weekend, when it’s still hot in low-land cities, but crisp and invigorating in Telluride and always as intimate as a large living room.
The big picture on drought
TAHOE BASIN, Calif. – California has had it rough. Last year less rain fell than in any year since it became a state in 1850. And while snowfall in the Sierra Nevada is usually measured by feet, not inches, winter this year got off to such a slow start that not all the ski trails in the Tahoe resorts were opened until last week. Yes, the first week of March.
Guess what? It could get worse. The San Jose Mercury News says researchers have used tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence to document multiple droughts during the last 1,000 years that have lasted 10 or 20 years in a row. That compares with just 3 years in the current drought.
Among the droughty periods was one that lasted 240 years, and another that lasted 40 years.
“We continue to run California as if the longest drought we are ever going to encounter is about seven years,” said Scott Stine a professor of geography and environmental studies at Cal State East Bay. “We’re living in a dream world.”
A sharper definition to the story is presented by Martin Hoerling, a meteorologist specializing in climate science at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. In a piece published in the New York Times, Hoerling makes several points.
The current drought in California, he says, “resembles the droughts that afflicted the state in 1976 and 1977. Those years were at least as dry as the last two years have been for the state as a whole.” And studying records to 1895, he says, no clear trend toward either wetter or drier conditions has been observed.
Hoerling also warns against blaming global warming for this drought. “At present, the scientific evidence does not support an argument that the drought here is appreciably linked to human-induced climate change.”
He cites a 2013 report by the International Panel on Climate Change: “Recent long-term droughts in western North American cannot definitely be shown to lie outside the very large envelope of natural precipitation variability in this region, particularly given new evidence of the history of high-magnitude natural drought and pluvial episodes suggested by paleoclimatic reconstructions.”
It’s natural to wonder about current droughts given the planet’s gradual warming due to the rampant burning of fossil fuels, says Hoerling. And it’s also notable that demand for water in California has increased dramatically, calling into question the adequacy of the current system of reservoirs and other hydraulic infrastructure in the West in times of drought, whatever the cause.
The danger of being a one-horse town
WHISTLER, B.C. – Michael Shuman was in Whistler recently to talk about economic development and diversification. He’s been at this for about a quarter century, giving an invited talk at least once a week during that time, and has published seven books, including “Local Dollars, Local Sense.
He’s all about keeping it local. Shuman has helped lead community-based economic development efforts from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to Carbondale, Colo., down-valley from Aspen. He’s also a fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute.
In Whistler, he urged his listeners to “treat the moment you are in right now as a surplus moment.” The reason, he explained, is that Whistler is in a “very climate-dependent industry, and climate is moving in very unexpected directions.”
Too, he noted that Whistler is essentially a one-industry town. So was Detroit, and for a long time Detroit thrived, reaching a peak population of 1.8 million. That population has thinned to 700,000.
From Michigan comes another example of note. He told the story of Zingerman’s Deli, a business in Ann Arbor, a university town. The company had success but instead of becoming a chain, it decided to grow its roots in one place more deeply. Zingerman’s owners created a bread company, a coffee-roasting company, mail order cake business, and customer-service company. It is now considered an Ann Arbor institution.