TFF freebies

The Telluride Film Festival features several free offerings. (Planet file photo)

Don’t have a pass to this year’s Telluride Film Festival? Don’t despair! There are plenty of free film events to take advantage of throughout this Labor Day Weekend.  

Perhaps the best, first stop for freebies is the large Brigadoon tent at the Oak Street gondola plaza, where everyone is welcome, passholders and non-passholders alike.

“Pick up a program guide at Brigadoon, and look for the dollar sign with a slash through it,” said Shannon Mitchell who handles public relations for the Telluride Film Festival “All programs with that symbol are free and open to the public.”

Noon seminars in Elks Park, featuring panels of festival guests discussing various topics, are free and open to all on Saturday and Sunday. Questions from the audience are welcome.

The “Conversations” among intriguing festival guests in the county courthouse are also free as is the Filmmakers of Tomorrow series, including Calling Cards, Student Prints and Great Expectations, three exciting programs demonstrating adventurous up-and-coming talent. A series of films at the Backlot — a film venue located in the Wilkinson Public Library — is also free. Details about schedules, featured guests and discussion subjects for all of these free programs will be announced on Thursday.  

Individual SHOW tickets are $35 each and may be purchased at each venue. Once all passholders have been seated, individual tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. There are non-passholder lines at each venue. The venues with the greatest likelihood of available seats are the Werner Herzog Theatre (650 seats), the Palm (650 seats), the Galaxy (500 seats) and Chuck Jones’ Cinema in Mountain Village (500 seats).

“I would recommend waiting until the films are shown at least once,” Mitchell said. “You’ll have better luck getting a seat at a second or third showing.”

The Late Show pass allows access to the last film at the Chuck Jones’ Cinema and at the Palm each day and costs $100 for four films; a relative bargain, given that individual film tickets cost $35 each. Late Show passes may be purchased at the Nugget Theatre or at any venue’s box office. Late Show ticket-holders will be admitted to their shows once general passholders have been seated.

Watch for repeat screenings of the festival’s most popular films called TBAs (to be announced). Announcements will appear each morning at the Hospitality Center and at all theater locations. There are usually tickets available for many repeat showings.

Also, “tribute” screenings often have tickets available at show time.

Perhaps the most well-attended and beloved of the free offerings at the Telluride Film Festival are the films shown at the Abel Gance Outdoor Cinema, located in Elks Park, featuring a different film each evening during the festival starting at 8:30 p.m. Find a spot on the green lawn, bring short festival chairs or a blanket and cuddle up to watch a nighttime film under mountain stars.  

Tonight’s (Wednesday) feature at the Abel Gance is “Bridget Jones Diary,” a romantic comedy starring Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth.

Thursday night features “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” a new adventure classic starring Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Adam Driver.

Friday night features “The Right Stuff,” a story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, directed by Philip Kaufman, and starring Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn and Ed Harris.  

Saturday night’s film remains a secret until the full festival program is announced Thursday.

“There are several more free shows throughout the weekend that will be announced on Thursday morning,” Mitchell added.

Sunday night at the Abel Gance features Ken Burns’ documentary project “Country Music: Episode 5 — The Sons and Daughters of America (1964-1968),” which explores some of country’s most inspiring artists. This film will also be a free show at 9 a.m. Monday at the Werner Herzog Theater.

For more information on this year’s Telluride Film Festival, visit