A Tribute to our Founder – Ellen Kohner Hunt



This program will be available Friday, October 15 from 7 AM MT until Sunday, October 31 at midnight. Once you begin, you’ll have 7 days to finish watching.


There is a suggested donation of $20 for this Tribute Program.


To honor her legacy, Aspen Film collaborated with some of Ellen’s closest friends, colleagues and family members to produce this program. This tribute was originally shown during Filmfest 21 at the Wheeler Opera House. Due to the volume of requests we received after the screening, we’ve now decided to make the program available online for those who were not able to join us in-person.


The tradition of Aspen Film began 42 years ago in 1979 when our founder, Ellen Kohner Hunt, passed a note to a friend in an Aspen Arts Council meeting that read, “How about having a film festival”? Her management style never got more formal than that. Ellen ran Filmfest for seven years with one paid staff member, and that person wasn’t Ellen. She has been called one of Aspen’s most remarkable volunteers, who, as someone observed, “cajoled, bribed, and blackmailed a group of cinema junkies to sit through reels of film and shelves of video, and then debate the merits of each.”


Throughout its entire history, Ellen made sure that three principal traits always characterized Filmfest and the organization as a whole: a spirit of independence, a sense of community, and a foundation of inclusiveness. How fitting then that our tagline: “Independent by Nature” both describes Ellen’s M.O. and the kinds of films shown at our festival. Independently produced features and documentaries, even if not technically perfect, have a real sense of truth – “the viewer sees into someone’s life,” she once said. Such was her vision that four decades later, we continue to showcase work from world-class independent filmmakers.


Sadly, we lost Ellen this year following a valiant battle with cancer. But even in the midst of a global upheaval, we thought it important to pay homage to the powerful woman who gave life to our organization.


Ellen’s family has generously set up a fund in her name at Aspen Film. The purpose of which is to provide education, inspiration and support to young filmmakers.


All proceeds from this tribute program will benefit THE ELLEN FUND.