City Lights

This is a crazy special privilege. Once in a lifetime. Absolutely every type of person should have it.

Student, City Lights Class of 2019

I learned that you can make the best of friends in the shortest amount of time…I loved every moment of it.

Student, City Lights Class of 2019

I thought I would be nervous when meeting actors and directors, but I was able to be myself around them.

Student, City Lights Class of 2019

It’s the coolest experience I’ve been able to give students. It felt like a fabulous learning opportunity for students and amazing for me.

Chaperone, City Lights – from The Mountain Mail

The TFF's City Lights Project provides a select group of high school juniors and seniors and their teacher/chaperons a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience of the world-renowned Telluride Film Festival high in the Colorado Rockies.

Here’s what happens when you and your students participate:


  • View approximately 9-11 film programs over five days.
  • Interact with filmmakers, actors, and other film artists including screenwriters, musicians, and producers.
  • Participate in journal writing sessions.
  • Meet with college students participating in the Festival's Student Symposium and Filmmakers of Tomorrow programs.
  • Learn how films are critiqued, how they are made, how stories are developed, how to critically view a variety of creative media, and how to open their minds to new experiences and viewpoints.
  • Continue the experience after the Festival as both students and teachers share what they have learned through the City Lights Project with their peers, school, family and community back home.
  • Have the time of their lives in one of the most majestic and beautiful places on the planet – Telluride, Colorado.
  • Live and breathe film with students and teachers from other participating schools.
  • Share their experience with other passholders and film lovers from around the world.


We consider the City Lights Project a continuing education opportunity for high school teachers as well. One of the teachers’ greatest learning opportunities comes from seeing their students quickly expand their ability to express themselves in a highly participatory environment.


Thank you for your interest in the Telluride Film Festival City Lights Project. Applicants for the 2021 Class have already been selected (carried over from the cancelled 2020 SHOW, due to COVID). Please look for the 2022 application in November, 2021.


By attending one of the most exciting film festivals in the world, students (and teachers) will have the opportunity not only to screen some of the best and newest selections from world cinema, but also to discuss these films and interact with other students, filmmakers, special Festival guests, Festival staff, and general passholders. They will develop lifelong friendships with the peers they meet through this program, find a new confidence in their own abilities and thought processes, and expand their way of looking at the world as well as themselves.


Teachers whose students are interested in the humanities (history, literature, the visual arts, writing, film, music, etc.) and who would like to use an experience such as the City Lights Project as a launching point for further arts education efforts. An interest in film production is not a requirement.

PLEASE NOTE: The reviewers will consider a pair of schools or a youth service agency and a school.


Thanks to the contributions from considerate individuals, the Telluride Film Festival is able to cover Festival passes, lodging, meals, supplies, and curriculum materials. Travel to and from the Festival (including travel meals) are the responsibility of the participating school(s).


All applications, correspondence and questions should be directed to:

For general questions about any of our education programs please email

For more information about sponsoring TFF’s student programs, contact our development department today.

It is characteristic of the Telluride Film Festival to run a program like the City Lights…because Telluride is about showing films to provoke discussion, bring people together and to inspire. The students I encountered were eager to learn, full of questions and some answers – they were an inspiration to me!

Sarah Gavron, Filmmaker, SUFFRAGETTE