Student Symposium

It was the single most important artistic experience I've had.

Symposium Student, Class of 2016

The meetings we had with our Symposium guests were magical and life-altering...This festival is truly sacred, and the experience I had this past year was one I will not soon forget. As films like MOONLIGHT, LA LA LAND, and TONI ERDMANN rack up the Oscars, I will remember what it was like to walk those Rocky Mountain streets, from screening to screening, and be valued as a young cinephile—a true lover of film.

Patrick Healy, Student Symposium Class of 2016

Applications for the next Student Symposium will be available early February 2018. Stay tuned!

Imagine being a part of an exclusive give and take with filmmakers like Alejandro González Iñárritu, Todd Haynes, Bryan Cranston, 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, Mike Leigh, Diablo Cody, Lynne Ramsay, 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 approximately 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 and breathe 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.


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.


The Student Symposium begins on the afternoon of Thursday, August 31st and continues non-stop through Monday night, September 4th. 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. The application window has closed for TFF 44 2017. Thank you to all applicants!
  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. A downloadable application is also available by request.


Applications will be reviewed immediately following the March 20th deadline.  Application results will be emailed in early May (please do not call before May 1st). Incomplete applications 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:

It was one of the best experiences of my life. I just got home an hour ago and already I wish I could go back. … I feel inexpressibly lucky for having had the privilege to attend.

Symposium Student, Class of 2016

All of us have plans to come back and volunteer for years to come. The energy and pure spirit of this festival is truly unlike anything I have ever experienced and I am so grateful I go to be a part of this weekend.

Symposium Student, Class of 2016