film fest

Labor Day means picnics, which is exactly what the Telluride Film Festival hosts Monday at noon. (Photo courtesy of Vivien Best)

By the time you’re reading this, all will be revealed.

You’ll be in possession of precious information: exactly which films will premiere this weekend at the 46th Annual Telluride Film Festival, which runs from Friday through Monday. Film bluffs and bloggers have been salivating over the possiblities for weeks, and all will you will have to do is click on to see the fest’s official press release — and thus, which movies will be playing.

The information will be posted Thursday around 9 a.m.

The question is what to do about this newfound bounty of cinematic beta, given that festival passes have — alas — been sold out for months.

There is still much to see, and to take in, at this year’s fest: noon conversations featuring panels of festival guests — directors, actors, screenwriters — are free and open to all at Elks Park Saturday and Sunday. All you have to do is stroll by! Questions from the audience are more than welcome.

That’s the spirit of the Telluride Film Festival, by the way. “There are no prizes, and therefore no juries,” New York Times critic A.O. Scott has written of the fest, “no market, no press screenings, no red carpets or paparazzi photo calls. The ethos is open and egalitarian.”

There’s more festival chatter among knowledgeable, intriguing fest guests this weekend in the San Miguel County Courthouse. A free series of films will screen in a venue called the Backlot (aka the Wilkinson Public Library), and, like everything else at the Wilkinson, the public is warmly welcomed to those, as well.

And then there are the films themselves: Do you have even a hope of seeing any of them, even if you’re not in posession of a coveted full-festival pass?

The answer is, of course. “You can buy a Late Show Pass, which gets you into the final screening of the day” at select theaters, fest publicist Shannon Mitchell said. “You can also wait in the non-passholder lines for any screening.” Once all passholders are admitted, you’ll have a chance to purchase tickets.

The bigger venues, such as the Palm and the Werner Herzog (both of which offer 650 seats), and the Galaxy and Chuck Jones Cinema (with 500 seats apiece) are your best bets for getting in.

In general, Mitchell advised, the bigger theaters, and the movies that have already screened once and are being shown again are where you’re likely to have the best luck of gaining admittance. If you can wait it out, do so. “By Sunday and Monday, you have a better chance of getting a seat,” Mitchell said.

The festival’s full program will be published and be downloadable by Friday.

If you can’t make it to the box canyon at all this weekend but cherish brilliant cinema nonetheless, don’t despair. The Telluride Film Festival’s programmers have an excellent track record of selecting films that go on to win numerous prizes (at fests that bestow such things) and garnering numerous Academy Awards.

The films you miss here will turn up again and again, in other words — in local theaters, to stream online, and (if the record holds) in the cinematic canon, where they’ll be discussed for decades, even centuries.

Their debut in Telluride is just the beginning. The party is only getting started.

Writer Amy E. Peters contributed to this story.