Audience Award for Best Film: MOMENTUM GENERATION

Audience Award Runner-Up: 3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS

Aspen, Colo. (October 2, 2018) – Aspen Film announced today its balloted Audience Award winners for the 39th Aspen Filmfest, which ran Sept. 25-30 at the Wheeler Opera House and the Isis Theatre in Aspen and the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.

Two documentaries were chosen as the best films in the festival by the Aspen Filmfest audience—the largest the organization has seen in recent years. With ticket sales up 27% since 2017, Aspen Filmfest also reported 10 sold-out screenings and a total crowd of more than 5,000 filmgoers over the duration of the festival across its three venues.

MOMENTUM GENERATION, directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist, was chosen to receive the Audience Award for Best Film and 3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS, directed by John Breen, was chosen to receive the Audience Award Runner-Up.

“After an unprecedented, spirited and well-attended festival, we’re thrilled to announce our Audience Award winners for Aspen Filmfest this year: MOMENTUM GENERATION and 3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS. Both documentaries, which focus strongly on the concept of family and healing in the wake of tragedy, are powerful, moving and ultimately uplifting. Although on the surface seemingly distinct, the messages of overcoming, emotional support and camaraderie come through, connecting these films with audiences on an emotional level,” says Aspen Film executive director and Aspen Filmfest artistic director Susan Wrubel.

Timed to the spectacular fall color in the Rocky Mountains, Aspen Film presented a six-day showcase of independent and big-screen cinema featuring 21 features and documentaries from the international festival circuit punctuated by filmmaker guests, in-depth discussions and education programming for Aspen Country Day School, Aspen High School, Aspen Middle School, Coal Ridge High School, Basalt High School and Colorado Mountain College.

This year, Aspen Film was proud to reinstate the Independent by Nature Award, which celebrates maverick film talent who break the mold within the realm of independent filmmaking. Producer Bob Rafelson was the first recipient of the award in 1999, which ultimately came to honor mid-career achievements, primarily for actors, but also for talent behind the camera. Past notable recipients include Anjelica Huston, Michael Douglas, William H. Macy, Harrison Ford and Stanley Tucci.

As part of its Closing Night presentation of BEAUTIFUL BOY (Amazon Studios), Aspen Filmfest welcomed Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen for a post-screening Q&A and awards ceremony to honor him for his breakthrough achievement in directing. Van Groeningen has directed six feature films since 2004 with BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2014.

Aspen Film will continue its fall celebration of film with its monthly Indie Showcase screening of THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS in partnership with Metropolitan Theatres on Wednesday, October 3, 7:30pm at the Isis Theatre (406 E. Hopkins Ave.). Its DAM Films series in partnership with the Arts Campus at Willits continues on Monday nights through November 5, 2018 at The Temporary in Basalt (360 Market St.).

For the complete Aspen Filmfest program and upcoming calendar of events, visit




Directed by Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist, USA, 2018, 103 minutes

MOMENTUM GENERATION is a feature-length documentary about the deep friendships that were formed and tested among surfing’s most legendary crew, including Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox, Benji Weatherley, Kalani Robb, Ross Williams and Pat O’Connell. After leaving their families in their early teens to live crammed together in a house on the North Shore of Oahu, they courageously followed each other into Mother Nature’s most dangerous waves…and when some of them didn’t make it back to shore, together they found a way to mourn and adapt. Fueled by camaraderie — but even more by a deep-seated competitiveness — this tight-knit crew became known as the “Momentum Generation” after being featured in Taylor Steele’s groundbreaking surf films. They went on to win world titles, break records, and redefine the world’s perception of the surfer, of youth culture, and of what it means to be free.

Director’s statement from Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist:

“Winning the Audience Award is a great honor, capping an amazing festival experience. We’re humbled and deeply grateful to Susan, the festival staff, and amazing Aspen audience members for such a memorable experience!”



Directed by John Breen, USA, 2018, 80 minutes (work-in-progress)
Imagine the defining moment of your life. Then imagine never talking about it with anyone. In 1974, Mark and Andy Godfrey went on a family ski vacation to Aspen, Colo. The plane they were traveling in crashed, taking the lives of their parents, brother and sister. Mark and Andy, who were 11 and 8 years old at the time of the accident, respectively, survived three days and two nights in the frigid mountains. For nearly 40 years they rarely discussed the crash, even between themselves. Finally, the brothers confront and come to grips with the tragic event that changed their lives forever. Their story is one of cathartic discovery in hopes that twin beacons of love can reconcile such a tragedy.

Director’s statement from John Breen:

”We were honored to be part of Aspen Filmfest and thrilled to be the runner-up for the Audience Award. Mark and Andy Godfrey are heroes in my eyes for sharing their story. We so appreciate the love and support we received from the Aspen Community. A big thanks also to Susan Wrubel who ran a first class festival.”



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The 39th Aspen Filmfest was presented by The Aspen Times and sponsored by Alpine Bank, Aspen Club & Spa, Metropolitan Theatres, The Gant, North of Nell, Aspen Public Radio, Aspen Magazine, Aspen 82 and KDNK Community Radio. Aspen Filmfest is also generously supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, AspenOUT, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media, Les Dames d’Aspen, Thrift Shop of Aspen, Town of Carbondale and the Wheeler Opera House (City of Aspen) Arts Grant Program.



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


Katie Shapiro