Last weekend I attended part of the Telluride Film Festival, one of the most elite and celebrated film fests in the world. Telluride is only a (beautiful) two-hour drive from Durango, so you have no excuse for not going next year (it’s always over Labor Day weekend). Here are some tips on how to navigate this fest (or any film fest, really) sober or under the influence of marijuana, which is legal all over the great state of Colorado.
Firstly, buy a festival pass or purchase tickets ahead of time. The passes are expensive as hell, but if you’re a cinephile who wants access to great films, director Q&A’s and the casual celeb sighting, it will be worth it.
Make sure you find a couch to crash on (try Couchsurfing.com!) or a friend to stay with in town ahead of time. Hotels in Telluride are very costly, and things fill up fast with ritzy non-locals flooding in. Splitting the costs of a condo with a group is always a good option. And if you’re planning to blaze throughout the fest, make sure the people you’re staying with are 420-friendly. Smoking is legal in Telluride, but technically not in public; do it out the window of your condo (don’t smell up the rental) or on the back porch.
If you do show up without a pass (like I did), you’ll get into the “ticket buyer line” for screenings. Those tickets are $30, credit cards only, no cash. Even if you arrive to the lines an hour early, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in. Pass-holders, donors and VIPs get seats first, and there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting forever and finding yourself shut out at the last minute. There might be another movie you want to see elsewhere, but by the time you’re shut out of your first choice, it’s possibly too late to make it to your second. I’d recommend being in line 1.5 to 2 hours early, if it’s a film you’re dying to see. Keep in mind that if you’re one of the last lucky few admitted into a theater, there’s a good chance you’ll be stuck in a front row, all the way to the side, craning to see the screen. Your neck won’t thank you.
If you want to be high for the movie, smoking isn’t the best option, as your buzz will wear off. Bring an edible. You can purchase brownies, cookies, candies, etc. from any dispensary in Durango or Telluride. Those last for hours, and they’re inconspicuous.
The long lines you’ll be standing in? They’re all assembled outside, so be mindful of unpredictable mountain weather. In Telluride, you’ll go quickly from high-altitude sun sweating to shivering in the rain. Bring a warm waterproof jacket and an umbrella. Also bring snacks; food at the venues isn’t cheap, you’ll have the munchies and you’ll need sustenance to keep your spirits up.