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The Telluride Film Festival was started in 1974 by Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy and Jim Card in the town of Telluride, Coloradomarker, United Statesmarker. It is operated by the National Film Preserve, LTD.

During the 33rd Festival, Bill and Stella Pence announced that they would be retiring as Director and Managing Director. Gary Meyer was announced as the new Co-Director, with Tom Luddy. Julie Huntsinger was later hired to act as Managing Director. The festival is now based in Telluride, Coloradomarker after years of having been based in Hanover, New Hampshiremarker and later Portsmouth, New Hampshiremarker. It is held on Labor Day weekend each year, although you will not find the word “annual” on any information, posters or announcements regarding the festival.

The program is a mix of forgotten gems and films making their North American, and in some cases World, premieres. Each year, tributes are paid to directors and actors who have fundamentally changed the world of film.

As far as the poster art goes, each year, an artist is selected to produce the poster art for the festival. the artist is granted much artistic icense- the single requirement is that the word SHOW be worked into the poster art. Artists have included Chuck Jones, David Salle, the Starn Bros., Dotty Attie, Jim Dine, Ed Ruscha, Francesco Clemente, Gary Larson and Dave McKean.

There are six "special events" that take place over the course of The Telluride Film Festival, starting the first night of the festival-

- The Opening Night Feed is held on Telluride's historic main street. The festival's passholders, filmmakers, celebrities and guests enjoy a buffet dinner and complimentary spirits.

- The Filmmaker Dinner is an exclusive VIP event held in an elegant private home on the eve of the festival to welcome the filmmakers, actors and special honorees.

- The Patron's Brunch is an exclusive party held for 400-500 Patron Passholders and filmmaker guests at the famous Skyline Ranch. 13,000' peaks are used as the perfect backdrop for the lavish food and drink served and is a perfect place to mingle with directors, celebrities, and industry insiders.

-The Filmmaker Reception is a private mid-festival mixer that offers a fun and informal environment for filmmakers and sponsors to catch up.

-The Mid-Festival Gathering is a fun, late-night VIP and celebrity bash held in one of Telluride's signature private homes. An elegant buffet dinner is served with select wines, cocktails, and a special midnight toast- a favored festival tradition.

-The Labor Day Picnic is held in Telluride's Town Park with breathtaking views of the rugged San Juan Mountains.[110751]

There are also seven "programs" spread throughout the four days of the festival:

- The Festival Lounge is the official lounge venue for the festival and provides a place for guests and passholders to meet and relax. Festival program guides, newspapers and local information are provided in this venue. Promotions, product sampling and demonstrations can be offered here as well.

- The Noon Seminars takes place in an open forum setting where hundreds of festival attendees converge upon Telluride's Elks Park to listen to panels of film industry experts critique and discuss film and the the issues facing filmmakers. Past panelists have included Penelope Cruz, Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster, Todd Haynes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Lee, Laura Linney, William H. Macy, Sean Penn, Julian Schnabel, Meryl Streep, Ted Turner, Forest Whitaker and many more.

- The Conversations is an event where several major guest artists are scheduled, with a celebrity moderator, to discuss their work. Past guests have included Willem Dafoe, Janet Leigh, Robert McNamara, Michael Moore, Errol Morris, Sean Penn, Salman Rushdie, Stephen Sondheim, Gus Van Sant, and more.

- The Tributes recognizes three artists for their significant contribution to the history of world cinema. The tributees are presented with a Silver Medallion and their stellar careers are honored with a program of clips, a feature presentation, and often an on-stage interview. Past Tributees include Penelope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Jack Nicholson, Peter O'Toole, Mickey Rooney, John Schlesinger, and Meryl Streep.

- The Individual Films event presents 18-20 US or World premieres. Each film is accompanied by its director, producer, and/or actors. Recent premieres have included Into the Wild, Babel, Last King of Scotland, Juno, Brokeback Mountain, Slumdog Millionaire, and Capote.

- The Volunteer Program is composed of a cross-section of American life with abounding passion for the festival and incredible stories to tell. From high-ranking lawyers, to corporate execs, to college students, the 400+ volunteers are the true heart of the festival.

- The Filmmakers of Tomorrow- Calling Cards and Great Expectations is made up of two series. The Calling card series is composed of short films made by emerging filmmakers outside of film school who use their films as their "calling card" to get their next project started. Filmmakers of Tomorrow series features special, longer films by students and film artists whose debut visions demonstrate a maturity of style.[110752]

There are nine theatre venues in Telluride used at the festival:

- Abel Gance: Created in 1979 to show the 1927 masterpiece NAPOLEON by French director Abel Gance, the Open Air Cinema is located in Elks Park. This theatre, now a much beloved Telluride tradition, shows festival films each night, free of charge, to huge enthusiastic crowds.

-Backlot: The Backlot is an intimate all-digital video screening room dedicated to the art of film. It provides attendees with a special behind the scenes look to the past, present and future of cinemas where they discover new stories about famous and unknown film personalities.

- Chuck Jones: Seating 500 in a superb, professional theatre with top quality projection equipment and Dolby sound, the "Chuck" is a favorite of festival audiences. Located in Mountain Village, the CJC is linked to downtown Telluride by a free, spectacular 12-minute gondola ride.

- Galaxy: Unveiled in 2001, the galactic artistry of the Galaxy theatre quickly made it a festival favorite. Seating 500 in partial stadium seating, the Galaxy is a spectacularly designed state of the art theatre, featuring Dolby sound and immaculate projection.

- Le Pierre: Named after our longtime friend and one of the world's great cinephiles, Pierre Rissient, Le Pierre is a sophisticated and intimate venue (135 seats) that features comfortable stadium seating and is equipped with 16mm and 35mm projection as well as digital video projection.

- Masons Hall: The historic Masons Hall is the festival's own "art" house. Seating 151, and utilizing 35mm and 16mm projection and Dolby sound, this theatre features the most specialized festival programs. At the Masons you'll be treated to films you could rarely, if ever, see elsewhere.

- Nugget: The Nugget Theatre opened in 1995 and has operated as Telluride's year-round movie theatre. Seating 200, this historic theatre has a rugged, mountain town flavor. With excellent 35mm and 16mm projection and Dolby sound, it is a mainstay of festival scheduling.

- Palm: Opened in 2005, named in memory of philanthropist Michel D. Palm, the Palm theatre is a 30,000 square foot multi-use performing arts facility located in Telluride High School. Seating 650, the Palm features wide screen cinema with dual 35mm projectors, a large format digital projector and surround sound.

- Sheridan Opera House: This "jewel box" of a theatre was built in 1912. Noted for its turn of the century Venetian roll-up curtain, the Opera House is the primary venue of the festival. Most of the world and US premieres occur here. This showcase facility is also the site of the festival's Tributes.[110753]

Some noteworthy film premieres include: Sling Blade, American Violet, Babel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Everlasting Moments, Flash of Genius, Happy-Go-Lucky, Infamous, Roger & Me, Juno, Gummo, Into the Wild, The Last King of Scotland, Little Children, The Lives of Others, The Crying Game, Amélie, El Mariachi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Swingers, Nosferatu, City of God, Bowling for Columbine,* El Norte, Rushmore, My Dinner with André, To End All Wars, Lost in Translation, The Qatsi Trilogy, Margot at the Wedding, The Savages, Volver, Shattered Glass, Touching the Void, House of Flying Daggers,* The Fog of War,* Finding Neverland, Brokeback Mountain, Walk the Line, Capote, Conversations with Other Women, Venus, Elephant,* Gunner Palace, Kinsey, Yes, Cyrano de Bergerac, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Civil War by perennial attendee Ken Burns, The Last Station. (Asterisks indicate American, not worldwide, premieres.)

Tributes have been paid to artists such as Gloria Swanson, Jack Nicholson, Gérard Depardieu, Clint Eastwood, Fay Wray, Klaus Kinski, Laura Linney, Isabelle Huppert, and Jodie Foster. The list of directors who've accepted Telluride tributes includes: Francis Ford Coppola, Werner Herzog, Chuck Jones, Robert Altman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Pedro Almodóvar, Ken Burns and Neil Jordan.

Not to be confused with Mountainfilm in Telluride, another film festival held annually in Telluride over Memorial Day weekend.

Special honors

There are no prizes or awards given, unlike other film festivals. Instead, simply being included in the program is an honor that a mere forty or so films get to earn each year. The primary focus is on independent film. In addition to features, a number of shorts and student films are also selected from myriad submissions each year. The program is created by co-directors Gary Meyer, Tom Luddy and a third, carefully chosen "guest director" each year. Past guest directors include Errol Morris, Peter Bogdanovich, Bertrand Tavernier, Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Peter Sellars, Stephen Sondheim and Buck Henry, among others.

While the selection process involved in putting the program together is highly competitive, there are no juried awards given at this festival. There are, however, special honors bestowed upon a few people each year. These include:
  • The Telluride Film Festival Silver Medallion - Typically, 3 of these are given out at each festival to actors and directors. Accompanying the medallion is a special tribute program of clips and films that exhibit the honoree's distinguished career and achievements.
  • Telluride Film Festival Guest Directors: A guest director is chosen each year and serves to bring new ideas and overlooked films to Telluride
  • The Festival is dedicated to a fallen friend of the festival, in the unfortunate event of one's passing.


Festival guests

Festival guests have included: Joan Allen, Laurie Anderson, Ellen Barkin, Noah Baumbach, Annette Bening, Peter Bogdanovich, Helena Bonham Carter, Ken Burns, Tracy Chapman, Toni Collette, Bill Condon, Sofia Coppola, Daniel Craig, David Cronenberg, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Don DeLillo, Roy Disney, Clint Eastwood, Ralph Fiennes, David Fincher, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Andy Garcia, Gael Garcia Bernal, Terry Gilliam, Phillip Glass, Jeff Goldblum, Michel Gondry, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Marcia Gay Harden, Todd Haynes, Buck Henry, Werner Herzog, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Tamara Jenkins, Neil Jordan, Catherine Keener, Greg Kinnear, Ang Lee, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Day Lewis, Laura Linney, George Lucas, Kevin Macdonald, William H. Macy, James Mangold, Michael Moore, Errol Morris, Youssou N'Dour, Peter O'Toole, Sean Penn, Mark Ruffalo, Salman Rushdie, Walter Salles, Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader, Liev Schreiber, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Shadyac, Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Ted Turner, Gus Van Sant, Forest Whitaker, and many more.[110754]

Working for the festival

A staff of over 500 volunteers comes together each year to build venues, project films, serve popcorn, and host special events. Each year, the festival offers a small number of production apprentice positions that people over the age of 21 can apply for. A wage is paid and housing is provided.

Film entry

Unsolicited works may be submitted for consideration from April 15 to July 15 each year. Movies of any length, in any format, and in all genres and disciplines are eligible for consideration. Professional and amateur filmmakers working in all aesthetic disciplines and genres are welcome. The TFF has one key restriction, however, on feature length films: any works 60 minutes or longer which have had any public exposure in North America prior to the Labor Day event are immediately precluded from consideration.

Media coverage

The Telluride Film Festival regularly welcomes representatives from many distinguished news outlets. The past two festivals attracted critics Scott Foundas, Pete Hammond, Leonard Maltin, Todd McCarthy, Joe Morgenstern, Michael Rechtshaffen and A.O. Scott and yielded enthusiastic coverage in the Boston Globe, Box Office, Christian Science Monitor, Daily Variety, Denver Post, The Guardian (London), The Hollywood Reporter, LA Daily News, LA Times, London Free Press, New York Times, Reuters, Rocky Mountain News, San Francisco Chronicle, Screen International, W Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Weekly Variety, Entertainment Tonight, Starz Cinema, and online at many sites including washingtonpost.com, indiewire.com, laweekly.com, apple.com, LeonardMaltin.com, theenvelope.com, backstage.com, screendaily.com, greencine.com, movieshow.com, moviesonline.com, moviehabit.com, slashfilm.com, cinematical.com, MSNBC, yahoo.com, filmthreat.com, variety.com and dellounge.com.[110755]

The 34th Festival 2007



The 33rd Festival 2006

33rd poster, by John Canemaker
Program PDF download: http://telluridefilmfestival.org/pdfs/33tffguide_abcd.pdf
  • Guest Director: Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Tributees: Walter Murch, Penélope Cruz and Rolf de Heer
  • Films: Murch (U.S., 2006), Jindabyne (Australia, 2006), Charmed Lives (England, 1968), Venus (UK 2006), The Italian (Russia, 2006), Volver (Spain, 2006), Infamous (U.S., 2006), 20,000 Streets Under the Sky (UK, 2006), The Page Turner (France, 2006), Civic Life (Ireland, 2006), Ten Canoes (Australia, 2006), Day Night Day Night (U.S./Germany, 2006), 12:08 East of Bucharest (Romania, 2006), The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006), The Sentimental Bloke (Australia, 1919), Ghosts of Cité Soleil (Denmark/U.S., 2006), Fur (U.S., 2006), Dodsworth (U.S., 1936), The U.S. vs. John Lennon (U.S., 2006), The Last King of Scotland (UK, 2006), Playtime (France, 1967), Little Children (U.S., 2006), Passio (Netherlands/Italy/U.S., 2006), Deep Water (UK, 2006), Lonesome (U.S., 1928), Babel (Mexico, 2006), Severance (UK, 2006), The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (Japan, 1986), Indignes "Days of Glory" (France-Algeria, 2006), Signs (France, 2006), No Third Company (Romania, 2006), Don't Move (Italy, 2004), Directed by John Ford (U.S. 1971/2006), Maldone (France, 1928), Remorques (France, 2006), Lumière d'Été (France, 1943)
  • Shorts: Dreams and Desires - Family Ties (d. Joanna Quinn, UK, 2006 10m), Carmichael & Shane (d. Alex Weinress and Rob Carlton, Australia, 2005, 5m), When We Are Big "Als Wij Groot Zijn" (d. Eveline Ketterings, Netherlands, 2006, 7m), Rabbit (d. Run Wrake, Scotland, 2005, 9m), Din of Celestial Birds (d. Elias Merhige, U.S., 2006, 14m), Changes (d. Lorcan Finnegan, Ireland, 2006, 3m), Film Noir (d. Osbert Parker, UK, 2005, 3m), The Tube With A Hat (d. Radu Jude, Romania, 2006, 23m), Marilene De La P7 (d. Christian Nemescu, Romania, 2006, 45m), Bawke (d. Hisham Zaman, Norway, 2005, 15m), The Eyes of Alicia (d. Ugo Sanz, Spain, 2005, 8m), Delivery (d. Till Nowak, Germany, 2005, 9m), I Want To Be A Pilot (d. Diego Quemada-Diez, U.S., 2006, 12m), Burst (d. Juliet Lamont, Australia, 2006, 7m), Run (d. Peter Mackie Burns, Scotland, 2005, 9m), Useless Dog (d. Ken Wardrop, Ireland, 2004, 5m), Dead Letters (d. Paolo Rotondo, New Zealand, 2006, 13m), Cross Your Eyes Keep Them Wide (d. Ben Wu, 2006, 23m), Wolves in the Woods (d. B. J. Schwartz, 2006, 7m), High Maintenance (d. Phillip Van, 2006, 8m), Graceland (d. Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2006, 18m), Your Dark Hair Ihsan (d. Tala Hadid, 2005, 13m), Substitute (d. Talya Lavie, Israel, 2005, 19m)


  • At the 33rd Festival, co-founders and directors Bill and Stella Pence announced their retirement. Gary Meyer will take over Bill's Position and continue working with Tom Luddy.


Festival trivia

Each year, a small painting is applied to the sidewalk outside the Sheridan Hotel to commemorate the near fatality of festival director Tom Luddy.

The festival operations/production department is unofficially known as Vespucci Pictures, whose slogan is "Save a buck, make a buck".

There is a festival super hero; bike riding Cookie Boy.

Unlike most other film festivals, the Telluride Film Festival does not announce its program line-up in advance. Filmgoers purchase festival passes on faith, and the schedule is released the day before the Festival begins.

The Telluride Film Festival is rated among top 10 international festivals, as well as among the top 5 of U.S. Festivals, alongside Sundance, Austin Film Fest, AFI Fest and Tribeca.

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