October 1, 2021


ASPEN, CO (October 1, 2021Aspen Film is delighted to announce MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen (RBG), as the Audience Award winner for its 42nd annual Filmfest. The film made its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and will be released digitally on the Amazon platform October 1, 2021.

MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY was originally showcased virtually in June as part of the Eisner/Lauder New Views Documentary and Dialogues series, presented by Aspen Film and the Aspen Institute’s Arts Program. The response was so strong that Aspen Film brought it back for in person viewing.

An Audience Special Mention is also awarded to BERNSTEIN’S WALL, which boasts Tribeca and Telluride Film Festival 2021 laurels.

The festival, which ran from September 21-26, showcased a total of 15 notable fall films including local filmmaker Dirk Braun’s FLYING BOAT which had its world premiere film festival.

“The response to Aspen’s 42nd Filmfest was a resounding success despite navigating COVID protocols, restrictions and audience safety,” says Aspen Film Executive + Artistic Director Susan Wrubel. “This year, two meaningful, socially conscious, biographical documentaries took our Audience Award and Audience Special Mention Award – MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY and BERNSTEIN’S WALL, respectively. Aspen audiences certainly appreciate leaders who are independent by nature, fostering equality and social justice.”

Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat, a full decade before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned separate-but-equal legislation, Pauli Murray was already knee-deep fighting for social justice. A pioneering attorney, activist, priest and dedicated memoirist, Murray shaped and mark litigation—and consciousness—around race and gender equity. As an African American youth raised in the segregated South—who was also wrestling with broader notions of gender identity—Pauli understood, intrinsically, what it was to exist beyond previously accepted categories and cultural norms. Both Pauli’s personal path and tireless advocacy foreshadowed some of the most politically consequential issues of our time. Told largely in Pauli’s own words, My Name is Pauli Murray is a candid recounting of that unique and extraordinary journey. (USA, 2021) 91MIN
FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Sundance 2021; Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2021; Chicago DOC10 Film Festival 2021; Provincetown International Film Festival; 2021; AFI DOCS 2021; Outfest Los Angeles 2021
DIRECTOR: Betsy West and Julie Cohen
WRITTEN BY: Betsy West and Julie Cohen

Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen commented, “Thank you, Aspen! We are honored to tell the story of Pauli Murray and are thrilled that audiences are excited to learn about an African American luminary who had such a profound and positive impact on our world.”

BERNSTEIN’S WALL follows Leonard Bernstein on his lifelong journey to define his role as one of America’s most important musical figures, while fighting to create social change and inspire political activism through his work. Told in Bernstein’s own voice and featuring never before seen archival footage, Douglas Tirola’s documentary is an intimate portrait of one of the 20th century’s most prominent icons, and his struggle to balance his complex personal life and groundbreaking career. (USA, 2021) 100MIN
FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Tribeca Film Festival 2021, Telluride FIlm Festival 2021
DIRECTOR: Douglas Tirola
WRITTEN BY: Leonard Bernstein, Douglas Tirola
WITH: Leonard Bernstein

BERNSTEIN’S WALL director Doug Tirola says, “Thank you to Aspen Filmfest for the opportunity to be a part of your festival and to share our film Bernstein’s Wall with your incredible audiences in a theater right in downtown Aspen. We are so grateful to be acknowledged with the Audience Award Special Mention. Thank you, Aspen.”

Film lovers should save the dates for Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings which will be held December 12-16, 2021. Look for more details in the coming weeks at




The 42nd Annual Filmfest is made possible by the generous support of Alpine Bank, Aspen Public Radio, and The Aspen Times. Aspen Filmfest is also charitably underwritten by grants from AspenOUT, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media, Les Dames d’Aspen, 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 FilmEducates. 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



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Kami Gantt


Working to Enlighten, Enrich, Educate, and Entertain Through Film