Aspen Film Announces 25th Annual Academy Screenings Program

December 1, 2016

Aspen Film Announces 25th Annual Academy Screenings Program

Aspen, CO (December 1, 2016) – Celebrating a quarter-century, Aspen Film today announced its full program of 23 films selected to screen as part of the 25th Academy Screenings at the historic Wheeler Opera House in Aspen. This annual film series runs December 21-January 1 and recognizes the forthcoming award-season contenders.

The screenings selected for this year include:

  • Deepwater Horizon: On April 20th, 2010, one of the world’s largest man-made disasters occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor), this story honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever.
  • Elle: In one of the most buzzed about performances of the year, Isabelle Huppert stars in director Paul Verhoeven’s controversial and compelling film about identity, violence and intrigue.
  • Fences: Fences is the story of Troy Maxson, a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart. Fences is directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson, adapted from Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The film stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.
  • The Founder: Directed by John Lee Hancock, The Founder features the true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling salesman from Illinois, met Mac and Dick McDonald, who were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California. Kroc was impressed by the brothers’ speedy system of making the food and saw franchise potential. Writer Robert Siegel details how Kroc maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire.
  • Gleason: One of the year’s most emotionally unforgettable, and often humorous, documentaries tells the story of former NFL player Steve Gleason and his wife Michel, and the actions they take when Steve is diagnosed with ALS at the age of 34.
  • Gold: Inspired by actual events, Gold is the epic tale of one man’s pursuit of the American dream and everything he’ll do to keep it from falling apart. Directed by Stephen Gaghan, the film stars Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez and Bryce Dallas Howard.
  • Hell or Highwater: Academy Award® winner Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster and Chris Pine star in a Texas-based story of crime, punishment and brotherly love, directed by David Mackenzie from a screenplay by Taylor Sheriden.
  • Hidden Figures: The film recounts the vital history of an elite team of African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped win the all-out space race against America’s rivals in the Soviet Union and, at the same time, sent the quest for equal rights and opportunity rocketing forwards. Directed by Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and Kevin Costner. (Note this is a free screening with priority access given to Aspen Film members.)
  • I Am Not Your Negro: Director Raoul Peck takes the unfinished writings of James Baldwin, drawing upon the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore the current racial narrative in America. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Jackie: A searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). Jackie places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination.  Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.
  • Julieta: After a casual encounter, a brokenhearted woman decides to confront her life and the most important events about her estranged daughter. Based on a short story by Nobel Prize-winning writer Alice Munro, and directed by the Academy Award® winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
  • La La Land: Written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Damien Chazelle, La La Land tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in modern day L.A., a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.
  • Lion: One of the most engrossing and affecting films of the year centers on the true story of Saroo Brierly, adopted from India by an Australian family at age five, for whom the invention of Google Earth 25 years later provides the tools to begin a search for his birth family. Starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.
  • Loving: The real-life story of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving (portrayed in the film by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown.
  • Manchester by the Sea: Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, and starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, the film explores the transformed life of a solitary Boston janitor when he returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew.
  • A Monster Calls: 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall), dealing with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness, a less-than-sympathetic grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), and bullying classmates, finds a most unlikely ally when a Monster appears at his bedroom window.
  • Moonlight: A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is based on a play by esteemed playwright and Miami native Tarell Alvin McCraney.
  • Neruda: Pablo Larraín weaves an engrossing metafictional fable around the 1948 manhunt for celebrated poet and politician Pablo Neruda, who goes underground when Chile outlaws communism and is pursued by an ambitious police inspector (Gael García Bernal) hoping to make a name for himself by capturing the famous fugitive.
  • Nocturnal Animals: From writer/director Tom Ford comes a romantic thriller that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in Nocturnal Animals.
  • Paterson: Starring Adam Driver and written and directed by renowned indie director Jim Jarmusch, Paterson is set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey and is an immersive and thoughtful tale about a bus driver and poet.
  • Sand Storm: One of the most highly awarded international films of the year, and Israel’s official submission to the 2016 Academy Awards®, Sand Storm is set in a Bedouin village in Southern Israel, where Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife while discovering her daughter’s forbidden liaison with a university boy.
  • Sing: Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a dapper koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal some might even say delusional—optimist who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it.  Now faced with the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition. The film stars Academy Award® winners Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, alongside Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Grammy Award® nominated Tori Kelly. (Admission to this screening is free for kids 18 and under.)
  • Toni Erdmann: The most acclaimed international film of the year, and Germany’s official submission to the 2016 Oscars®, this is the funny, charming, unpredictable and moving story of a father doing everything in his power to reconnect with his daughter.

For the first time, Aspen Academy Screenings will also include a program of Oscar®-qualified short films, offering a taste of what to look forward to in April at Aspen Shortsfest. These multiple award-winning shorts represent the extraordinary talent of our new, often emerging, visual storytellers: The Dogcatcher, directed by Daria Woszek, Maman(s), directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, and The White Helmets, directed by Orlando von Einsiedel.

  • The Dogcatcher: Bru seems to have a knack for returning lost dogs and he’s always ready to take a picture with the relieved reunited family. But not all dogs are created equal, and Bru’s fastidious routine is about to be challenged by a rather dramatic, yet pitch-perfect, black comedy of errors.
  • Maman(s): The family of eight-year-old Aida is thrown into chaos when her father returns from Senegal with young Rama, whom he introduces as his second wife. Aida may not exactly understand the details, but she understands that her mother is in deep distress, and that there seems to be but one way to make things better again.
  • The White Helmets: A small group of volunteer heroes, the White Helmets defy death, dodging bombs and sniper fire, to rescue Syrians from the bombs that fall incessantly on their towns and cities. However, after three years and with no end in sight, even the heroes may need to be saved.

As a longtime favorite winter destination for voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and various guilds, what began as an intimate and exclusive industry-only event has grown into an Aspen holiday tradition bringing together film professionals, visitors and residents alike. From starry features to fresh independent voices, Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings brings the heat of the awards season race to the mountains.

The 25th Aspen Film Academy Screenings full program is online now at Pre-sale tickets are available for Aspen Film Members on Monday, December 5 with tickets to the general public available on Thursday, December 8 through the Wheeler Opera House box office: or 970.920.5770 / 866.449.0464. General Admission tickets are available for $20 and $15 for Aspen Film Members.  Hidden Figures is a free screening with priority access given to Aspen Film members. Admission to the film Sing is free for kids 18 and under.

Voting members of AMPAS, BAFTA and associated guilds receive a complimentary Industry Pass to Academy Screenings, which allows complimentary entry 30 minutes prior to all screenings and events. To obtain a pass please contact Aspen Film directly by email ( or phone (970.925.6882).

Celebrating 25 years of Academy Screenings, Aspen Film will host the New Year’s Eve Casino Royale Bash December 31, 2016.  The evening will be filled with wining, dining, dancing and gaming with a performance by NYC’s Swing Band Double Down. Tickets are available now and for more information visit

For more information and to join Aspen Film, please visit For updates, like Aspen Film on Facebook, follow @AspenFilm on Twitter and Instagram.

Aspen Film is currently accepting submissions for the 26th Aspen Shortsfest (April 4-9, 2017), one of the world’s premier international short film showcases. This Oscar®-qualifying international competition offers a diverse and exciting selection of drama, comedy, animation and documentary – all at 40 minutes or less.  Regular Entry Deadline: November 30, 2016.  Late Entry Deadline: December 26, 2016. For information on entering a film for the 26th Aspen Shortsfest, please visit



Established in 1979, Aspen Film is one of Colorado’s most active film arts organizations, presenting dynamic programs and featured guest artists throughout the year. Internationally recognized, Aspen Film organizes a major film event in every season, along with an extensive education program: Aspen Filmfest, Academy Screenings, Aspen Shortsfest and Film Educates. With a mission to enlighten, enrich, educate and entertain through film, Aspen Film stimulates thought, encourages dialogue and broadens understanding of our world and selves through the diverse spectrum of ideas presented by filmmakers worldwide. To learn more, visit and follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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