Student Symposium

Legitimately one of the best weeks of my life.

Symposium Student, Class of 2022

I was able to thank Hirokazu Kore-eda for making films, and even got to ask him a question about filmmaking. His work means so much to me. It felt like my entire life led up to that moment. I will be grateful forever.

Symposium Student, Class of 2022

Imagine being a part of an intimate give and take with such filmmakers as Kantemir Balagov, Jane Campion, Francis Ford Coppola, Mark Cousins, Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Xavier Dolan, Asghar Farhadi, David Fincher, James Gray, Todd Haynes, Werner Herzog, Agnieszka Holland, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Barry Jenkins, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Kira Kovalenko, Karyn Kusama, Errol Morris, Walter Murch, Sally Potter, Lynne Ramsay, Kelly Reichardt, Trey Edward Schults, Tilda Swinton, Wim Wenders, and Chloé Zhao, to name just a few of the past participants in the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium.

Don’t just imagine it – be here. It all happens Labor Day Weekend in the Colorado Rockies at the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium. We’re looking for 50 inspired college and university students to join us in screening the year’s best films and to have in-depth discussions with some of the greatest names in cinema. Yes, there’s an official application but the real requirement is a love of film. All participants in the Symposium will receive a Student Festival pass and a modest travel stipend—the rest is up to you.


  • View approximately a dozen film programs over the five days of the Festival;
  • Attend exclusive symposia with filmmakers, producers, actors, writers, and other great minds;
  • Have the time of your life in one of the most majestic and beautiful places on the planet – Telluride, Colorado;
  • Live and breathe film with 49 other students and TFF Symposium faculty;
  • Share your experience with other passholders and film lovers from around the world;
  • Make lifelong friends.


We are looking for a diverse 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 enrich the discussions 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.


The Student Symposium begins on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 30th and continues nonstop through Monday night, September 4th. Expect to spend more waking hours than seems possible viewing and discussing films with Symposium faculty, guests, and other students.

The approximate schedule is as follows: 

  • WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: Check-in, orientation at 4PM; WEDNESDAY EVENING: Get-acquainted gathering, film screening
  • THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Students-only symposium; THURSDAY EVENING: Opening Night Feed, film screenings
  • FRIDAY MORNING: Breakfast discussion; FRIDAY ALL DAY: Film screenings;
  • FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Students-only symposium 

Films seen by the students are chosen by the Festival and these selections must be adhered to. Your special student pass also provides admission to the Opening Night Feed, Labor Day Picnic, and other selected events.

Deciding whether you'd be able to attend the Telluride Film Festival? Need to know more about the commitments involved? Check out:


Travel, lodging and meals during the Festival are your responsibility if you are accepted.

To Apply:


Applications due Friday, March 31 by 11:59PM Pacific time.

You will be required to upload the following to complete your application. We recommend having all files ready and saved in the formats advised below prior to filling out your application so that they can all be uploaded at the same time.

1. ESSAY: In 700 words or less, write about a film that has deeply engaged you and how and why it did so. We want to know about your knowledge of cinema and your ability to think critically about it, but just as important is your ability to be self-reflective and to engage with broader questions in the world, and to ask how cinema has or could inform these questions for you. Include your name at the top of the document.

Please save the PDF file: “LAST NAME_FIRST NAME_essay” and upload in the above link as indicated.

2. RECOMMENDATION: have an instructor/advisor compose a letter of recommendation that attests to your student status and explains why they are recommending you for this program. The letter should be provided on official campus letterhead and signed by your instructor or advisor.

Please save PDF file: “STUDENT LAST NAME_STUDENT FIRST NAME_rec” and upload in the above link as indicated. Alternatively, if your instructor prefers to email the recommendation directly to us, we will send you a link for you to share with them when you apply. Please note that this link will be emailed to you once you submit your application to us. Your instructor letter of recommendation is also due by the March 31 deadline. Please plan accordingly.

3. PASS PHOTO: We need a photograph of you for your Festival Pass. Please make sure the resolution is reasonable for print, that your face is recognizable, and that your face takes up at least 70% of the image. Please save as png or jpeg and label your photo like this: LAST NAME_FIRST NAME.


This program is limited to 50 students. Because of the volume of applications, applications must be received at or before 11:59PM Pacific time, March 31, 2023. There will be no exceptions and an incomplete application will be penalized up to and including ineligibility for consideration. Should you be accepted and something comes up that prevents you from attending, we strongly ask that you alert us as soon as possible so that your spot may go to another student.


Travel, lodging and meals during the Festival are your responsibility if you are accepted.

If you have questions about your application or for additional information about the program, please contact Austin Sipes at (310)570-3294 or at

For information about the Telluride Film Festival or the education programs in general, contact

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

This was the best weekend of my life, without a doubt. I came back from it with so much hope for the future of cinema, and as a more confident person/filmmaker. I will forever be in Telluride's debt. Thank you so much.

Symposium Student, Class of 2022