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Bill Pence, Telluride Film Festival Co-Founder, Dies at 82 

Bill Pence, co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival, died on December 6 after a long illness, on Telluride Daily Planet informed. She was 82 years old.

The first festival was held in 1974 at the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, Colorado. It was initiated by the Telluride Council on the Arts and Humanities; Bill and his wife, Stella; Tom Luddy; and James Card. It continues to be operated annually by the National Film Preserve.

“Bill Pence is an almost mythical figure in the Telluride Film Festival landscape,” Julie Huntsinger, executive director of the Telluride Film Festival, said in a statement to the hollywood reporter. “Incredibly generous founder, but one description alone is not enough. A showman, a visionary, a great leader, a movie buff: all these things and more.

“But most important of all, Bill was a great person. Kind and intelligent and a wonderful father and husband. We continue to be inspired by his example and vow to continue the important work of film appreciation.”

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A Minneapolis native, Pence immersed himself in film from his first job, where he was an usher at the city’s movie palaces. In college, when he was running the student film society, his interest was piqued when he saw the Harold Lloyd film. the freshman (1925) for the first time. He began his career as a promoter, where he would present a regular film program to students, calling them “festivals.”

After graduation, Pence enlisted in the US Air Force and served for several years. After his release, he worked as a vice president at New York-based Janus Films, focusing on growing his new and classic collection, which would serve as the foundation for the Criterion Collection.

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Pence moved to Denver and met Stella, and that’s when the Telluride festival began to come to life, with the help of friend and film historian Card and Pacific Archive director Luddy. Over the next three decades, they worked to expand the event and change the movie business.

Bill and Stella withdrew from the festival in 2006.

They also created and ran the Santa Fe Film Festival for three years beginning in 1980.

Following their departure from Telluride, the Pences were recruited to help organize the TCM Classic Film Festival, which is held each year in Hollywood. “Our festival owes a lot to both of them,” said TCM General Manager Pola Chagnon. THR.

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The collection of film prints that Pence amassed over his 50-year career is now in the Museum of Modern Art and the Harvard Film Archive.

In addition to his wife, the survivors include his daughters Zazie and Lara and four grandchildren.

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