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Telluride Film Festival

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Telluride Film Festival

Telluride, Colorado, US


800 Jones St, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA

2016 Telluride Film Festival

40th telluride film festival film diary

The Telluride Film Festival is a film festival in Telluride, Colorado, U.S., over Labor Day Weekend in September of each year.



It was started in 1974 by Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy, and James Card and the Telluride Council for the Arts and Humanities, known now as Telluride Arts, who organized and sponsored the event, held the poster contest, presented the honorees symposium in the Town Park on Main Street, and the student symposium led by TCAH Chairman, Scott Brown.. It is operated by the National Film Preserve.

In 2007 the Pences retired. Julie Huntsinger and Gary Meyer were hired to run the festival with Tom Luddy. Huntsinger is Executive Director.

In 2013 the festival celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a new venue, the Werner Herzog Theatre and an extra day.


The bulk of the program is made up of new films, and there is an informal tradition that new films must be shown for the first time in North America to be eligible for the festival. Telluride is well-situated on the international film festival calendar for this: shortly after the Cannes Film Festival, but just before the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. This insistence on premieres has led to Telluride's being associated with the discovery of a number of important new films and filmmakers. This is especially true of Michael Moore (whose first film Roger and Me showed there for the first time in 1989) and Robert Rodriguez (whose first feature El Mariachi got its first festival screening there in 1992). The festival has also had the American premiere of films such as My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle, 1981), Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984), Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986), The Civil War (Ken Burns, 1990), The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992), Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001), Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005), The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, 2014) and Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016).

Since 1995 a special medallion has also been presented annually, usually to a non-filmmaker who has had a major impact on American or international film culture. Past recipients include Milos Stehlik (founder of Facets Multi-Media), HBO, the French film magazine Positif, Ted Turner, and Janus Films.

Silver Medallion

Each festival also features three tributes. Typically one has been devoted to an important figure in contemporary Hollywood, another to a major historical figure, and a third to someone who is either not well known to American audiences or who has been misunderstood by them. Each is awarded the Telluride Film Festival Silver Medallion.

The 1974 tributes honored Francis Ford Coppola, Gloria Swanson and Leni Riefenstahl. Other tributees have included Penélope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Jack Nicholson, Peter O'Toole, Mickey Rooney, John Schlesinger, and Meryl Streep.


As of 2015 the program is created by executive director Julie Huntsinger and founder and artistic director Tom Luddy, and one of the Telluride Film Festival guest directors, who change each year. These have included Errol Morris, Peter Bogdanovich, Bertrand Tavernier, Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Peter Sellars, Stephen Sondheim, Buck Henry, and Michael Ondaatje.

Each year, an artist is selected to produce the poster art for the festival. Those who have accepted the commission include Chuck Jones, David Salle, Doug and Mike Starn, Dottie Attie, Jim Dine, Ed Ruscha, Francesco Clemente, Dave McKean, and Gary Larson. The sole requirement for the poster is that the word SHOW be featured. This is a tribute to a large illuminated sign which says "Show" and sits outside of the Sheridan Opera House, the festival venue where the Silver Medallions are awarded.

After serving guest director in 2001, Salman Rushdie wrote that, "It is extraordinarily exciting, in this age of the triumph of capitalism, to discover an event dedicated not to commerce but to love". Conversely, Susan Sontag, in her 1974 essay "Fascinating Fascism", lamented that, "The purification of Leni Riefenstahl's reputation of its Nazi dross has been gathering momentum for some time, but it has reached some kind of climax this year, with Riefenstahl the guest of honor at a new cinéphile-controlled film festival held in the summer in Colorado…." Kenneth Turan, film critic of the Los Angeles Times, said that "the hothouse filmocentric universe Telluride creates over a Labor Day weekend has always been more a religion than anything as ordinary as a festival, complete with messianic believers and agnostic scoffers."


The Academy Film Archive houses the Telluride Film Festival Collection, which consists of conversations with iconic filmmakers, tributes, symposium and seminars dating back to 1978.


Telluride Film Festival Wikipedia