40th Anniversary Tribute: Bob Rafelson





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. In its early days, Aspen Filmfest focused on the work of American independent directors, but soon broadened its lineup to include the work of ground-breaking foreign directors as well. Four decades later, we continue to showcase work from world-class independent filmmakers.


To commemorate our 40th anniversary, we are presenting our first-ever Aspen Film Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence in the Cinematic Arts to Bob Rafelson – renegade and ground-breaking director, producer, and writer whose career spans four decades.


Rafelson, an Aspen local for the past 40 years, is credited with launching the careers of Bruce Dern, Jessica Lange, Sally Field, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jennifer Lopez by giving them their first serious film roles. Jack Nicholson attributes Rafelson with boosting his career, having “saved him from cheap exploitation movies.”


His protean skills as an artist and filmmaker, along with his innate ability to identify talent set Rafelson apart, as did his unflinching approach to filmmaking. He immersed himself in his work and refused to ever compromise his vision.


Filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Bogdonavich and Wes Anderson extol his style and commitment to what he perceived as an overly obsessive perfection of his work. It is his independent spirit and resolute style which stand out and make him a true original.


Aspen Film salutes Bob Rafelson. We hope the foundation that he established in the motion pictures carries on through another generation.


Congratulations on a most defined cinematic career – we are Aspen-proud to have a filmmaker of your caliber in our midst.


Click here to read Esquire Magazine’s most recent article on Rafelson.

Tribute and conversation
led by legendary former
Aspen Sheriff Bob Braudis. 




5:00 PM at the Wheeler Opera House
$25 Aspen Film Members $30 General Admission

7:00 PM Post Tribute Dinner at L’Hostaria 
620 East Hyman Ave., Aspen
$150 Aspen Film Member (includes Tribute ticket)
$175 General Admission (includes Tribute ticket)

If you are unable to attend and would still like to make a donation, please click here.