film fest

The 47th Telluride Film Festival is canceled, according to an announcement this week. (Planet file photo)

Telluride Film Festival, presented by the National Film Preserve, announced this week the cancellation of the 47th edition of the festival, originally scheduled for Sept. 3-7, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After months of intense due diligence around physically holding an event, we’ve come to the heartbreaking but unanimous conclusion to cancel this year’s Labor Day celebration of film in Telluride,” according to the statement. “But with a seemingly unending number of new cases of Covid-19 and the national chaos around it, even the best strategy is threatened by this out of control environment.”

The festival plans to release its lineup in the near future in order to highlight what it says is “the best in film this year,” and hopes its audience will have the opportunity to see the films at other major fall festivals, including NYFF, TIFF and Venice, according to the news release.

Earlier this year, Telluride Town Council approved the festival's request for an additional day, which would help spread out crowd sizes in an attempt to follow social-distancing guidelines.

More recently, the Telluride School District declined to allow the festival to use its facilities. The festival uses the elementary school gym and the Palm Theatre as venues during the Labor Day weekend gathering.

The cancellation wipes the summer festival calendar clean, as Bluegrass, The Ride, Jazz and Blues & Brews have all been previously canceled over coronavirus concerns.

The film festival's full statement reads: "After months of intense due diligence around physically holding an event, we’ve come to the heartbreaking but unanimous conclusion to cancel this year’s Labor Day celebration of film in Telluride. 

While there will be those who might say they’re not surprised by it, that this was inevitable, we beg to differ. It didn’t have to be this way. Until the past week or so, we had a very good plan to put on the SHOW safely. But with a seemingly unending number of new cases of Covid-19 and the national chaos around it, even the best strategy is threatened by this out of control environment. No matter how much many of us wear our masks and observe social distancing protocols, the pandemic has worsened rather than improved and the health and safety of you - our passholders, filmmakers, the people of Telluride and its surrounding areas - cannot be compromised.

As you may know, we have been working cooperatively with our fellow fall film festival partners to champion global cinema and its artists. We hope that many of you will seek out and discover the titles we’ve selected for this year’s program at the New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, or Venice Film Festival, or when they’re made available on a wider basis. We will announce soon what we have carefully programmed in the hopes that you will experience as we did, the best in film this year. There are some incredible, powerful, and beautiful gems and we’re excited to extol their virtues when the time is right. Follow these titles, support them. We intend to champion them outside of the festival as best we can.

For those who have supported us and believe in what we are trying to do, our gratitude is enormous. Thank you. We will need you in the coming months in many ways. Let’s light candles now to conjure a better 2021 and Labor Day weekend in Telluride, together, under the stars in the mountains doing what many of us love the most. The way we prefer to experience cinema will return.  Let’s make it so.

We wish you good health, peace and may we collectively move forward to a better world. 

We understand that film festivals and their long-term health are not top of mind today. A safe vaccine, vital medical interventions for those sick and properly enforced health regulations are. However, we do ask that you take this moment to consider a world where gathering around a shared love of culture is no longer possible and what that means for the psychological condition of the world. If the prospect prompts a sense of despair, please advocate and champion the return of our gatherings that provide vital nourishment and oxygen to humanity's soul."