The films are wonderful, but they’re only one piece of the SHOW. There are also the people. For starters, there are three major film artists who will attend to accept our Tribute. In addition, every Telluride program is presented by special guests — usually the director or key players. With older films, it may be a historian who recognizes the significance of overlooked silver nitrate.

This incomparably mixed company of directors, actors, and scholars is an essential part of the Festival: interacting all weekend with attendees, discussing, defending and delighting in the movies that are playing. From scheduled "conversations" to simply chatting away on the streets and in line, these show people are as inspiring as the surrounding mountain landscape. Access to discussions with great filmmaking minds — what could be better?

Then there’s the wild card. Each year, we recruit a different film enthusiast to act as Guest Director. We’ve invited both filmmakers and savvy film lovers in the arts to indulge their passions and enact their wish lists. In short, to help create their dream festival. Guest Directors such as Salman Rushdie, Buck Henry, B. Ruby Rich, Bertrand Tavernier, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Sondheim, Peter Sellars, Edith Kramer, Slavoj Žižek, Alexander Payne, Michael Ondaatje, Caetano Veloso, and Geoff Dyer have all left their mark. The Guest Director, the three tributees, the Special Medallion recipients, fantastic re-discoveries and an amazing group of guests energize each and every Telluride Film Festival. Gathered here are distinguished intellects making for lively discussion…all part of The Show.

There are two kinds of film festival: there are the mega-hyped, hoopla-infested selling circuses, and there is Telluride. It is extraordinarily exciting, in this age of the triumph of capitalism, to discover an event dedicated not to commerce, but to love. And if that sounds old fashioned and starry-eyed, so be it. The cinema was always in the business of gazing at stars.

Salman Rushdie