Student Symposium

I've worked in film for nine years, and I've been at USC for two semesters, but I learned more about why we make movies in my five days with [the Symposium] than in all of that time put together...

University of Southern California Student

I was afraid I'd stick out like a sore thumb since I don't have any experience in film studies, but all of the students were very welcoming and willing to share their knowledge. I feel like everyone learned a lot from each other. I've never been around so many people who love film as much as I do, and I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am for that experience.

Princeton University Student

Imagine being a part of an exclusive give and take with filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Errol Morris, David Fincher, Danny Boyle, Alexander Payne, Werner Herzog, Michael Haneke, Agnieszka Holland, Laura Linney, Tilda Swinton, Ken Burns, Gus Van Sant, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mike Leigh, Diablo Cody, Lynne Ramsay, Todd Haynes, Wayne Wang, Tamara Jenkins, David Lynch, Im Kwon Taek, and Daniel Day-Lewis, to name just a few of the past participants in the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium.

Don’t just imagine it—be there. It all happens Labor Day Weekend in beautiful Telluride, Colorado. The Symposium is open to 50 college and university students, no matter what your major. Yes, there’s an official application, but the primary requirements are to love film and be truly fascinated by it. All selected participants will receive a special Festival pass and a modest travel stipend—the rest is up to you.

If you’re chosen, the Symposium begins Thursday afternoon and ends Monday night.


  • View at least a dozen film programs over four days.
  • Interact with filmmakers, actors, and other film artists including screenwriters, musicians, and producers.
  • Have the time of your life in one of the most majestic and beautiful places on the planet – Telluride, Colorado.
  • Live, breathe, eat, sleep film with other students and two of the best film faculty leaders you could ever wish for
  • Share your experience with other passholders and film lovers from around the world.
  • Make lifelong friends

And in keeping with TFF’s focus on providing a celebration of film for all people who love the movies, non-film majors are encouraged to apply.


The Student Symposium begins on the afternoon of Thursday, September 2 and continues non-stop through Monday night, September 7. Expect to spend more waking hours than seems possible viewing and discussing films with Symposium faculty, guests, and other students.


We are looking for a cross-section of the college and university student population: undergraduate and graduate students; film and non-film majors; and geographical and cultural diversity. The most important qualities we seek are: passion for film, an ability to interact with other students and Symposium guests, and a willingness to follow a highly rigorous program of screenings and discussions. With only 50 slots available, each student’s full commitment to the program is critical.


If you’re chosen, the Symposium begins Thursday afternoon and ends Monday night. The general schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday afternoon: Check-in, formal orientation
  • Thursday evening: Get-acquainted gathering, film screening
  • Friday afternoon: Students-only symposium
  • Friday evening: Opening Night Feed, film screenings
  • Saturday morning: Breakfast discussion
  • Saturday all day: Film screenings
  • Saturday afternoon: Students-only symposium
  • Sunday and Monday: Schedules are similar to Saturday

Your exclusive student pass also provides admission to the Opening Night Feed, Labor Day Picnic, and selected other events. Films seen by the students will be chosen by the faculty of the Student Symposium and the Directors of the Festival, and the choices remain solely in their hands.


  1. Complete and submit application. The deadline to apply for the 2015 TFF Student Symposium has passed. See below for additional information about the application process, and please consider applying next year!
  2. Write an essay on the following: What film matters most to you, and why? Please give this question serious consideration in terms of film as an art and/or social force. Please limit your response to a maximum of 700 words, place your name at the top of each page, and save your essay as a PDF.
  3. Collect a letter from your instructor/adviser attesting to your student status and recommending you for this program. Letter should be provided on official campus letterhead and signed by your instructor or adviser, who should make sure your name is prominent at the beginning of the letter. Should your adviser choose to keep their letter private, please have him or her scan and forward directly to , writing your name in the subject line.
  4. Email your essay (in PDF format) and scanned letter of recommendation to Please include your name in the subject line. Receipt of application will be sent from our offices. If you do not receive notification, it is your responsibility to follow up on your application.
  5. If it is necessary to submit your application materials by traditional mail, please print and send to Austin Sipes at 1351 Pine St.; Santa Monica, CA 90405. If you would like acknowledgment of receipt, please include a stamped, self-addressed postcard.


Applications will be reviewed immediately following the March 22nd deadline, initial e-mail notification of acceptance will be sent by May 1st, and all final results will be mailed by mid-May. Please do not call before May 1st for results. Incomplete application packets may be immediately precluded from consideration.

For more information about the Telluride Film Festival Student Programs, please contact Austin Sipes at 310.570.3294 or at

For general questions about any of our Education Programs please email

For more information about sponsorship of TFF and its programs, check our sponsorship page, or contact our development department:

The Symposium does a great job of facilitating the social experience of cinema, especially for students who are becoming more accustomed to internet streaming and home viewing in the digital age.

University of Edinburgh, Scotland Student

I found it thought-provoking and moving to discuss films with individuals who were all coming from such different walks of life in terms of age, education, film knowledge, geography, and interests.

University of California, Berkeley Student