Opening Reception

Tuesday, September 25 


Wheeler Opera House | 320 E Hyman, Aspen
Aspen Film Member Private Reception | 7:00PM
General Public with Ticket | 7:30PM


Aspen Film cordially invites you to an Opening Night Reception to kick off our 39th Aspen Filmfest.  


Sponsored by:


Sunday, September 30th 


Wheeler Opera House | 320 E Hyman, Aspen
Beautiful Boy | 5:00pm
Followed by award presentation and Q & A with director Felix Van Groeningen


The tradition of Aspen Film began 40 years ago, when our founder, Ellen Hunt,  had a vision for a small-scale but inspiring festival emphasizing an independent spirit. Almost four decades later, we are still showcasing resounding work from world-class independent filmmakers.


The Independent by Nature Award came about in 1999 when then Aspen Film executive director Laura Thielen wanted to celebrate maverick film talent who “broke the mold,” so to speak, within the realm of independent filmmaking. Producer Bob Rafelson was the first recipient of the award, 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.


Aspen Film remains independent by nature. We continue to embrace films and filmmakers who have the ability to defy tradition, or at least spin their visions into something fresh, exciting, captivating, and revealing.


A cornerstone of our mission is to showcase new work from groundbreaking directors as well as highlight career achievements from seasoned and stalwart filmmakers. This year we are privileged not only to present Beautiful Boy, the latest work from Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen, as our Closing Night presentation, but also to honor him with the Aspen Film Independent by Nature Award for his breakthrough achievement in directing for his first English-language film. Van Groeningen has directed six feature films since 2004, and his Broken Circle Breakdown was nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film  in 2014.


His work exhibits gravitas and offers audiences the pleasure of experiencing moviegoing in fresh, new, and surprising ways. His work feels innovative  and eclectic. His ability to explore the human character and experience ranks with the grand masters of filmmaking. He creates indelible stories and characters and, in our opinion, is helping to redefine cinema, which is why we are proud to honor him with this award.


Please join us for our final Filmfest 2018 screening of Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy, at the historic Wheeler Opera House, Sunday, September 30th at 5:00pm.  We are honored to welcome the director, who will host a Q&A following the film, and will be presented with the 2018 Independent by Nature Award.