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Telluride Film Festival to offer peek at early Oscar favorites

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Telluride Film Festival, one of the United States' top movie events and early Oscar showcase, will feature films from directors Jason Reitman, Joel and Ethan Coen, and Alexander Payne, the festival said on Wednesday.

Reitman's drama "Labor Day," which also plays in September's Toronto International Film Festival, will have its world premiere on Friday at the movie gathering in the Colorado town most famous for its ski slopes.

The film stars Oscar-winner Kate Winslet and is based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, which tells the story of a mother and son who accidentally bring an escaped prisoner into their lives.

The festival, in its 40th year, opens on Thursday and concludes on September 2. It will screen 27 feature films, which are announced only the day before the festival begins.

Telluride runs alongside Italy's Venice Film Festival and ahead of the Toronto International Film Festival, which each traditionally set the stage for the favorites heading into next year's Hollywood awards season.

Telluride has been a springboard in the past for films seeking Oscar buzz and critical praise. Most notably little-known British drama "Slumdog Millionaire" premiered at the festival in 2008 before going on to win eight Academy Awards, including best picture.

Other prominent films to be shown include Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis" about a 1960's Greenwich Village folk singer and Alexander Payne's drama "Nebraska" about a father-and-son road trip. Both of the films played at Cannes Film Festival in France earlier this year.

French drama "Blue Is the Warmest Color," voted the top film at Cannes, and Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' "The Unknown Known" about form U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will also highlight the Telluride festival.

The festival will also screen "Gravity," a 3D space movie starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts stranded in space, that premiered in Venice on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Lisa Shumaker)

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