Lights! Camera! Aspen Filmfest!
September 6, 2023
The 44th annual Aspen Filmfest will return Sept. 19-24 to the delight of local film lovers. New this year, all films will be screened at Aspen Film Isis Theatre.
Aspen Film Executive Director Susan Wrubel shared, “The lineup this year is an embarrassment of riches,” expressing a sense of relief following concerns that labor strikes by the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America would result in a limited film selection.
For the first time since the mid-1980s, the festival will be screened solely at the Isis Theatre, a venue now owned by Aspen Film.
“It’s thrilling for us, as an organization, as we embark on our capital campaign to renovate and restore the theater, to be able to do something like this in our own space, and to have an understanding of what it takes to fully operate a festival here, so it’s going to be an interesting experiment. As a team, we’re super excited to have the ability to do this,” Wrubel shared.
“The Stones and Brian Jones” by documentarian Nick Broomfield delves into the renowned band’s rise to notoriety in the ’60s as the fallout of strained relationships created rivalries within the group. “The Mission” explores a missionary’s encounter with isolationist Sentinelese tribes of the Andaman Islands, offering an intriguing contemporary perspective on missionary work. “She Came to Me,” a romantic comedy, boasts an ensemble cast including Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei and promises to be good for a few laughs. “Silver Dollar Road” tells a captivating tale of Black families asserting their land rights, while “Beyond Utopia” reveals a pastor’s underground network aiding North Korean refugees.
The Israeli film “Karaoke” showcases performances by Sasson Gabay and Rita Shukrun, known for their accolades, delivering a quirky yet impactful comedy. “Fair Play” presents a couple’s tumultuous journey in the corporate world, while “A Little Prayer” unveils the secrets within a dysfunctional family. “Fallen Leaves” brings a delightful Finnish comedy to the festival, and “Flora and Son” stars Eve Hewson, daughter of U2’s Bono, in a heartwarming mother-son relationship solidified by a mutual love of music.
“Anatomy of a Fall” offers a psychological courtroom drama, and “The Holdovers” stars Paul Giamatti as a New England prep school instructor supervising students during Christmas break.
Closing out the festival on Sunday, Aspen Words is collaborating with Aspen Film to present “The Pigeon Tunnel” from Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris, unveiling the remarkable journey of world-renowned British spy turned author John le Carré from the Cold War era to present. The film features his final candid interview before dying in 2020.
On Sept. 21 at noon, “The Great Divide” will have its world premiere screening with filmmaker Tom Donahue in attendance.
In Donahue’s most recent documentary, “This Changes Everything,” he assumed dual roles as director and producer, delving into the pervasive issue of systemic gender bias and discrimination against women in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
Donahue said “The Great Divide” premiere is “perfectly positioned because the film is set in Colorado.” He read the book “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment,” written by American historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, which detailed the history of America’s founding and the origins and purpose of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, granting Americans the right to bear arms.
He chose Colorado as the place to film people sharing their thoughts on gun safety and rights, partly because of the school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. “It took a while to unlock the balance that the film needed to achieve between the history of Columbine and how that community has or has not healed,” Donahue said.
After the film’s screening, attendees are invited to participate in a Q&A with Donahue. Open dialogue is what he thinks will bring about a solution. He said, “Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I believe people are mostly good at heart. Most people don’t want to see other people die, and you don’t want to see other people living in fear. As a documentarian, I believe we can solve this problem through conversation, and this film is meant to be a conversation starter.”
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