Student Symposium

My favorite part of the Festival was everything…listening to industry leaders speak so passionately about cinema is always a treat but in an intimate setting it's even more special. Waiting in line with other cinephiles for a film that could change your life or at least the rest of your day is amazing. To me, the best part of the Festival was meeting new people. I think that's what sets Telluride apart from other festivals, up in those mountains it's just about the films, nothing else matters.

Symposium Student, Class of 2019

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.

Symposium Student, Class of 2019

Imagine being a part of an exclusive give and take with such filmmakers as Werner Herzog, Kelly Reichardt, Barry Jenkins, 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, Asghar Farhadi, Guy Maddin, Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, and Volker Schlöndorff, 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 the Colorado Rockies at the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium. The Symposium is open to 50 college and university students, no matter what your major. We’re looking for some inspired students to screen the year’s best films and have in-depth discussions with some of the greatest names in cinema. Yes, there’s an official application but the primary 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 four days;
  • 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 2 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 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 3rd and continues non-stop through Monday night, September 7th. The general schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday afternoon: Check-in, formal orientation
  • Thursday evening: Get-acquainted gathering, Education Programs dinner, 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 provides admission to all scheduled screenings, the Opening Night Feed, Labor Day Picnic, and other select events. The schedule of screenings is carefully curated by Symposium faculty in collaboration with the Festival Directors.



  1. The deadline to apply for this year's Student Symposium has passed. If you have questions about an application already submitted, please email
  2. Using your best critical and personal judgment, write an essay on a film about which you feel strongly. 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. Email your essay (in PDF format) to Please include your name in the subject line.
  4. Have an instructor/adviser compose a letter of recommendation attesting to your student status and explaining why they are recommending you for this program. If printed, letter should be provided on official campus letterhead and signed by your instructor or adviser. If emailed, letter should come directly from instructor/adviser’s email address. Please have them scan and forward directly to, writing your name in the subject line.
  5. Receipt of emailed application & letters of recommendation will be sent via email auto-response. It is your responsibility to follow up on your application & letter of recommendation (if you are concerned they were not received). As of the due date, incomplete applications will be penalized or disregarded.
  6. If you decide to submit your application materials by traditional mail, please print the original and send to TFF Student Symposium, c/o 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.

Due to Covid-19, we are moving the application deadline back one week to March 23rd.


Applications will be reviewed immediately following the postmark deadline. Initial email notification of acceptance will be sent by April 22nd. Please do not call before that date for results. Incomplete applications may be immediately excluded 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 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, Class of 2019

While the official program was incredible (who knew you could meet so many filmmakers and see such a huge array of films in only five days!) some of my favourite moments came from the 'fringes': a man I met in line at the Werner Herzog giving me a list of film recommendations (and an impromptu history lesson on silent cinema), meeting one of the subjects of my favourite documentaries at the Labor Day Picnic, and being unexpectedly sat next to one of the Festival's programmers on my flight home. Not to mention multiple hugs from Peter Sellars! The informality of this festival, the beauty of its surroundings and the quality of the people and films that participate make Telluride an incredibly unique experience. I am indebted to the organizers and fundraisers who make it a possibility for students to participate. Thank you so much.

Symposium Student, Class of 2019