Telluride Film Festival

The Telluride Film Festival (TFF) is a film festival held annually in Telluride, Colorado, during Labor Day weekend (the first Monday in September). The 50th edition took place on August 31–September 4, 2023.

Telluride Film Festival
LocationTelluride, Colorado, United States



First held on 30 August 1974, the festival, hosted at the Sheridan Opera House, was founded [1] by Bill and Stella Pence,[2] Tom Luddy,[3] and James Card[4] of Eastman-Kodak Film Preserve .[5] It is operated by the National Film Preserve.[6]

In 2010, TFF partnered with UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. This partnership created FilmLab which was a program that focuses on the art and industry of filmmaking. This program is custom-designed for ten selected filmmaker graduates from UCLA.[7] The partnership was further extended in 2012, the two partners created a mutually curated film program on UCLA's Westwood campus.[8]

Werner Herzog and Lena Herzog outside the Werner Herzog Theatre in 2013.

In 2013 the festival celebrated its 40th anniversary with the addition of a new venue, the Werner Herzog Theatre and an extra day of programming.[9]

The festival went on hiatus in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and resumed a year later in 2021.[10]



The bulk of the program is made up of new films, and there is an informal tradition that new films must be shown for the first time in North America to be eligible for the festival.[citation needed] Telluride is situated on the international film festival calendar after the Cannes Film Festival, but just before the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. This insistence on premieres has led to Telluride's being associated with the discovery of a number of important new films and filmmakers like Michael Moore (whose first film Roger and Me debuted there in 1989) and Robert Rodriguez (whose first feature El Mariachi got its first festival screening there in 1992).

The festival has also hosted the American premiere of films such as My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle, 1981),[11] Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984), Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986), The Civil War (Ken Burns, 1990), The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992), Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001), Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005), The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, 2014), Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016), Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017), and Saltburn (Emerald Fennell, 2023).[12]

Since 1995, a special medallion has also been presented annually, usually to a non-filmmaker who has had a major impact on American or international film culture. Past recipients include Milos Stehlik (founder of Facets Multi-Media), HBO, the French film magazine Positif, Ted Turner, and Janus Films.

Silver Medallion


The Telluride Film Festival Silver Medallion is awarded to three honorees each year.

The 1974 tributes honored Francis Ford Coppola, Gloria Swanson and Leni Riefenstahl. Other tributees have included Riz Ahmed, Pedro Almodóvar, Robert Altman, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Toni Colette, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Daniel Day-Lewis, Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Peter Dinklage, Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster, Peter Greenaway, Sterling Hayden, Werner Herzog, Harvey Keitel, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Jack Nicholson, Mads Mikkelsen, Peter O'Toole, Sara Polley, Mickey Rooney, John Schlesinger, Jean Simmons, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Andrei Tarkovsky and Peter Weir.[13]



As of 2015 the program was created by founder and artistic director Tom Luddy, executive director Julie Huntsinger and one of the Telluride Film Festival guest directors, who change each year. These have included Errol Morris, Peter Bogdanovich, Bertrand Tavernier, Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Peter Sellars, Stephen Sondheim, Buck Henry, and Michael Ondaatje.

Each year, an artist is selected to produce the poster art for the festival. Those who have accepted the commission include Chuck Jones, David Salle, Doug and Mike Starn, Dottie Attie, Jim Dine, Ed Ruscha, Francesco Clemente, Dave McKean, Gary Larson[citation needed] and Luke Dorman of Meow Wolf.[14] The sole requirement for the poster is that the word SHOW be featured. This is a tribute to a large illuminated sign which says "Show" and sits outside of the Sheridan Opera House, the festival venue where the Silver Medallions are awarded.



Susan Sontag, in her 1974 essay "Fascinating Fascism", lamented that, "The purification of Leni Riefenstahl's reputation of its Nazi dross has been gathering momentum for some time, but it has reached some kind of climax this year, with Riefenstahl the guest of honor at a new cinéphile-controlled film festival held in the summer in Colorado...."[15]

After serving as guest director in 2001, Salman Rushdie wrote that, "It is extraordinarily exciting, in this age of the triumph of capitalism, to discover an event dedicated not to commerce but to love".[16]

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2002 that "the hothouse filmocentric universe Telluride creates over a Labor Day weekend has always been more a religion than anything as ordinary as a festival, complete with messianic believers and agnostic scoffers."[17] Jeffrey Ruoff, a film historian at Dartmouth College, noted in 2015 that "Early buzz at Telluride opens the fall season of North American award speculation that climaxes with the Oscars."[18]



The Academy Film Archive houses the Telluride Film Festival Collection, which consists of conversations with iconic filmmakers, tributes, symposium and seminars dating back to 1978.[19]


  1. ^ Green, Penelope (February 26, 2023). "Tom Luddy, a Behind-the-Scenes Force in Cinema, Dies at 79". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  2. ^ "This is Telluride, festival capital of Colorado". Fort Collins Coloradoan. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  3. ^ "First Person: Tom Luddy". KQED. August 22, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  4. ^ "James Card; Telluride Film Festival Co-Founder". Los Angeles Times. January 21, 2000. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  5. ^ Taufen, Amber (August 10, 2006). "Telluride Techies". Westword. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  6. ^ "Programs of the National Film Preserve - Telluride Film Festival". Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "Telluride Film Festival | UCLA School of TFT". Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "Telluride, UCLA Film School Extend FilmLab Partnership". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  9. ^ Ruoff, Jeffrey (January 31, 2016). Telluride in the Film Festival Galaxy. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies. ISBN 9781908437198.
  10. ^ Lane, Carly (September 1, 2021). "Telluride Film Festival Announces 2021 Lineup, Including 'The Power of the Dog,' 'Spencer,' and 'C'mon C'mon'". Collider. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 13, 1999). "My Dinner with Andre movie review (1981)". Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  12. ^ "Program Guide - Telluride Film Festival". Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  13. ^ Uproxx (August 28, 2013). "From Coppola to the Coens: 40 years of Telluride tributes". UPROXX. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  14. ^ The Editors. "Telluride Film Festival Announces Full 2021 Program Lineup | Festivals & Awards | Roger Ebert". Retrieved September 5, 2021. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  15. ^ Sontag, Susan (1974). "Fascinating Fascism". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  16. ^ Rushdie, Salmon (September 8, 2001). "No prizes for the best celebration of cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  17. ^ Turan, Kenneth (2002). From Sundance to Sarajevo: Film, Festivals and the World They Made. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 150. ISBN 9780520218673.
  18. ^ Ruoff, Jeffrey (September 8, 2015). "When Film Is a Festival". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  19. ^ "Telluride Film Festival Collection". Academy Film Archive.