Student Symposium

It’s the best place in the world. And I hope to find a way to keep coming back for the rest of my life. Thank you for this precious gift.

Student Symposium Alumni

I didn't believe people when they told me Telluride and this program would ‘change my life.’ It sounded like a sound bite, sensationalized. But they were right. What they said was true. Telluride changed my life. The town was like a movie set, but the people who came from all over for the Festival did not feel like actors. They felt real, genuine, and passionate. The films, the people, the students, and the overall atmosphere made Telluride a haven that I was sad to leave, but that I also think will influence my perspective on the films I see and on my own filmmaking for years to come.

Student Symposium Alumni

Imagine being a part of an exclusive give and take with such filmmakers as Jane Campion, Asghar Farhadi, Barry Jenkins, Werner Herzog, Kelly Reichardt, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Todd Haynes, Joshua Oppenheimer, Francis Ford Coppola, Errol Morris, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Karyn Kusama, David Fincher, Trey Edward Schults, Wim Wenders, Agnieszka Holland, Tilda Swinton, Mike Leigh, Lynne Ramsay, Walter Murch, Michael Haneke, Xavier Dolan, Chloé Zhao, Guy Maddin, Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, and Volker Schlöndorff, to name just a few of the past guests 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 four 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 Thursday, September 1st and continues nonstop through Monday night, September 5th. 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: 

  • THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Check-in, orientation at 4PM; 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 

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, and COVID vaccination is required for anyone attending the 2022 Telluride Film Festival.

To Apply:

The 2022 application window is now closed.

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: Using your best critical and personal judgment, write an essay on a film about which you feel strongly. Limit your response to 700 words or less and 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, please have them upload here.

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. 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 11:59 PM PDT, March 21, 2022. 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, and COVID vaccination is required for anyone attending the 2022 Telluride Film Festival.

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:

It was truly one of the best experiences I've ever had. There hasn't been a day that I haven't thought about my time in Telluride since being there. I really, really want to thank everyone who makes the symposium possible. During the first couple of days, I was taken aback by how many people told me they return every year, whether it was their third or thirtieth year in a row at the festival. By the end of the weekend, I completely understood. I hope to attend next year and for as many years after as possible!

Symposium Student Alumni