Aspen Filmfest announces 2020 lineup including in-person screening of ‘Nomadland,’ drive-in for ‘American Utopia,’ virtual ‘One Night in Miami…’ |

Aspen Filmfest announces 2020 lineup including in-person screening of ‘Nomadland,’ drive-in for ‘American Utopia,’ virtual ‘One Night in Miami…’

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times



OCT. 15

‘Nomadland,’ 5 p.m. Isis Theatre

‘The Dissident,’ 7:30 Isis Theatre

OCT 16

‘David Byrne’s American Utopia,’ 7 p.m. Snowmass Town Park (drive-in)

OCT. 21

‘The Truffle Hunters,” 5 p.m. Isis

‘Ammonite,’ 7:30 p.m. isis


‘Amazonia Groove,’ beginning Oct. 16

‘Gunda,’ beginning Oct. 19

‘Here We Are,’ beginning Oct. 18

‘I Am Greta,’ beginning Oct. 20

‘Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide,’ beginning Oct. 21

‘Minari,’ beginning Oct. 21

‘MLK/FBI,’ beginning Oct. 18

‘Night of the Kings,’ beginning Oct. 20

‘One Night in Miami…’ beginning Oct. 16

‘Sound of Metal,’ beginning Oct. 19

‘The Comeback Trail,’ beginning Oct. 17

‘Uncle Frank,’ beginning Oct. 17

Tickets and more info:

The 41st annual Aspen Filmfest will include some of the most highly touted prestige films of the season, including the Frances McDormand new western “Nomadland,” the new documentary from Oscar-winning Colorado filmmaker Bryan Fogel “The Dissident” and a drive-in screening of the Spike Lee/David Byrne concert film “American Utopia.”

The festival will run Oct. 15-21 and will include two nights of in-person screenings at the Isis Theatre and virtual screenings throughout. The festival announced its full lineup Wednesday afternoon.

“I pinched myself when the final film confirmed for our 2020 Filmfest,” Aspen Film executive and artistic director Susan Wrubel said in the announcement. “This is a stellar lineup in a very strange year.”

The hybrid festival comes as the novel coronavirus pandemic has upended the movie industry the independent film world and the film fall festival season. The announcement follows high-profile festival cancellations of recent months, including the Telluride Film Festival.

“At one point we were not sure whether we were going to be able to pull off our 41st Filmfest, let alone host in-person screenings, have access to several of the year’s best global cinema offerings, and ultimately land an incredibly crowd-pleasing drive-in title,” Wrubel said. “ I am overwhelmed and so proud to be able to share this incredible curation with our audience.”

The in-person screenings will open with Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” on Oct. 15. The film starring Frances McDormand won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and is the most acclaimed film of the season. It will be followed by a screening of “The Dissident,” a new documentary about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from Boulder-based filmmaker Bryan Fogel (“Icarus”).

Closing night in-person screenings on Oct. 21 are “The Truffle Hunters,” a documentary about Italian hunters and their dogs, and “Ammonite,” the period romance starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

“David Byrne’s American Utopia” will play to a drive-in audience on Friday, Oct. 16 at Snowmass Town Park, a day before the Spike Lee-directed concert film premieres on HBO.

The lineup of virtual screenings includes 12 new films including the Brazilian music doc “Amazonia Groove” and much-anticipated titles including the Greta Thunberg documentary “I Am Greta,” Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Minari,” Oscar winner Regina King’s directorial debut dramatizing the meeting of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown “One Night in Miami…,” and the Riz Ahmed heavy metal drama “Sound of Metal.” (Full lineup in sidebar and online).

Normally held in late September, the Filmfest move to October makes the festival overlap with the virtual 5Point Adventure Film Festival running online nightly Oct. 14-18 (itself rescheduled from April due to the pandemic). Though they overlap, Wrubel sees them as complementary rather than competitive cinematic events.

“Viewers looking to delve into some great short-form content that specifically expresses love for the outdoors and the idea that adventure belongs to everyone, will embrace the fun, diverse, curated programs that 5 Point has put together, interspersed with special guests and live hosts,” Wrubel said. “Those looking more for auteur film that provokes dialogue and is representative of recent prestige cinema from around the globe, can dig into a week of compelling documentary and feature films that offer more commentary on the world today.”

Passes go on sale for the virtual portion of Aspen Filmfest on Friday, Sept. 25. Advance tickets to individual virtual screenings, to in-person Opening + Closing Night films at the Isis Theatre and to the special Snowmass Town Park drive-in screeningwill be available for purchase to Aspen Film members beginning Friday, Oct. 1 and to the public on Monday, Oct. 5. Passes, tickets and Aspen Film memberships can be purchased at




Thursday, October 15, 5 p.m.

Isis Theatre

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. (USA, 2020) 108MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Golden Lion Award; Venice Film Festival 2020, Toronto International Film Festival 2020, Telluride Film Festival 2020, New York Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao

WRITTEN BY: Chloé Zhao

WITH: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie


Thursday, October 15, 7:30 p.m.

Isis Theatre

THE DISSIDENT, from Academy Award®-winning director Bryan Fogel (Icarus), is an edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline-filled thriller that plays out at the highest levels of power, exposing the labyrinth of deceit behind the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi was a principled reformer who sought to create a more open society in his homeland, and who was ultimately murdered for his vocal opposition to the Saudi government. Featuring never before seen surveillance footage and unprecedented access to a wealth of other damning information previously unavailable to the public, Fogel earned the trust of those closest to the tragedy to weave together this story of courage, money, power, tyranny, love, and technology run amok. (USA, 2020) 117MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Sundance Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Bryan Fogel

WRITTEN BY: Mark Monroe, Bryan Fogel


Wednesday, October 21, 5:00pm

Isis Theatre

Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to the Internet, make food and drink by hand and prioritize in-person connections and community. Demand for white truffles increases every year, even as supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, these ageing men may hold something more valuable than this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life. (Italy, USA, Greece, 2020) 84MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Sundance Film Festival 2020, Toronto International Film Festival 2020, Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival 2020, New York Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw

WITH: Carlo Gonella, Sergio Cauda, Aurelio Conterno, Angelo Gagliardi, Maria Cicciù, Gianfranco Curti, Paulo Stacchin, Piero Botto, Egidio Gagliardi


Wednesday, October 21, 7:30pm

Isis Theatre

In the 1840s, acclaimed self-taught paleontologist Mary Anning works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis. The days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now hunts for common fossils to sell to rich tourists to support herself and her ailing widowed mother. When one such tourist, Roderick Murchison, arrives in Lyme on the first leg of a European tour, he entrusts Mary with the care of his young wife Charlotte, who is recuperating from a personal tragedy. Mary, whose life is a daily struggle on the poverty line, cannot afford to turn him down but, proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, she clashes with her unwanted guest. They are two women from utterly different worlds. Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realization that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably. (UK, 2020) 117MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Toronto International Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Francis Lee

WRITTEN BY: Francis Lee

WITH: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan




Friday, October 16, 7:00pm

Town Park, Snowmass

HBO presents the filmed version of the acclaimed Broadway show DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA. Directed by Oscar® and Emmy® winning director Spike Lee, the one-of-a-kind, dynamic film gives audiences around the world access to Byrne’s electrifying Broadway show that played to sold-out, record-breaking audiences during its run from October 2019 to February 2020 at Broadway’s Hudson Theater. Featuring Academy®, Grammy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning musician David Byrne (Talking Heads), together with 11 musical artists from around the world performing songs from Byrne’s 2018 album of the same name, along with songs from Talking Heads and his solo career for a major cultural milestone in the worlds of music and theater; David Byrne’s American Utopia is a unifying musical celebration that inspires audiences to connect to each other and to the global community. The HBO special event in partnership with Participant, River Road Entertainment and Warner Music Entertainment is produced by David Byrne’s Todomundo and Lee’s Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks production companies and executive produced by RadicalMedia. (USA, 2020) 105MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Toronto International Film Festival 2020, New York Film Festival 2020, London Film Festival 2020


WRITTEN BY: David Byrne


Dates indicate when watch windows begin. More details to be announced Sept. 25.


Friday, October 16th

Leaving Belem and crossing much of the Para State Amazon region, its towns, and riverside villages, AMAZÔNIA GROOVE reveals artists and their traditions, faith and mysticism, music and life that pound in the northern region of Brazil, which is little known through the eyes of Brazilians themselves. Through its artists, AMAZÔNIA GROOVE gives voice to a fundamental part of Planet Earth, extending Brazil and the world’s look and awareness to an almost unknown musical tradition that has so much to reveal to us. (Brazil, 2018) 81MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival 2019, ZEISS Cinematography Award, SXSW 2019

DIRECTOR: Bruno Murtinho

WRITTEN BY: Bruno Murtinho

WITH: Mestre Damasceno, Dona Onete, Manoel Cordeiro, Sebastião Tapajós, Waldo Squash

COMMUNITY PARTNER: Jazz Aspen Snowmass


Monday, October 19th

Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it. Executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix. (Norway, USA, 2020) 93MIN

FESTIVALS/AWARDS: Berlin International Film Festival 2020, New York Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Victor Kossakovsky

WRITTEN BY: Victor Kossakovsky

COMMUNITY PARTNER: The Farm Collaborative


Sunday, October 18th

Aharon has devoted his life to raising his son Uri. They live together in a gentle routine, away from the real world. But Uri is autistic, and now as a young adult it might be time for him to live in a specialized home. While on their way to the institution, Aharon decides to run away with his son and hits the road, knowing that Uri is not ready for this separation. Or is it, in fact, his father who is not ready? (Israel, Italy, 2020) 92MIN

FESTIVALS/AWARDS: Cannes Official Selection 2020, Toronto International Film Festival 2020, Vancouver International Film Festival 2020; 10 Ophir (Israeli Academy Award) nominations including Best Picture

DIRECTOR: Nir Bergman

WRITTEN BY: Dana Idisis

WITH: Shai Avivi, Noam Imber, Smadar Wolfman

COMMUNITY PARTNER: The Aspen Jewish Community Center


Tuesday, October 20th

The story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is told through compelling, never-before-seen footage in this intimate documentary from Swedish director Nathan Grossman. Starting with her one-person school strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament, Grossman follows Greta—a shy student with Asperger’s—in her rise to prominence and her galvanizing global impact as she sparks school strikes around the world. The film culminates with her extraordinary wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. (Sweden, 2020) 97MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Venice Film Festival 2020, Toronto International Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Nathan Grossman

WITH: Greta Thunberg


Wednesday, October 21st

When Kenny Scharf arrived in NYC in the early 1980’s, he quickly met and befriended Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat; There, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, the trio would soon change the way we think about art, the world, and ourselves. But unlike Haring and Basquiat, who both died tragically young, Kenny lived through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is about the art of fun, about living life out loud, despite setbacks, and about Kenny Scharf’s particular do-it-yourself, high-tone, technicolor artistic vision. (Brazil, USA, 2020) 80MIN


DIRECTOR: Malia Scharf, Max Basch

WRITTEN BY: Malia Scharf, Max Basch

WITH: Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Jeffrey Deitch, Robert Williams, KAWS, Marilyn Minter


Wednesday, October 21st

A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, MINARI follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.

The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, MINARI shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home. (USA, 2020) 115MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: US Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, Audience Award: US Dramatic, Sundance Filmfestival 2020

DIRECTOR: Lee Isaac Chung

WRITTEN BY: Lee Isaac Chung

WITH: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Scott Haze, Yuh-Jung Youn, Will Patton


Sunday, October 18th

MLK/FBI is the first film to uncover the extent of the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Based on newly discovered and declassified files, utilizing a trove of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and unsealed by the National Archives, as well as revelatory restored footage, the documentary explores the government’s history of targeting Black activists, and the contested meaning behind some of our most cherished ideals. Featuring interviews with key cultural figures including former FBI Director James Comey and directed by Emmy® Award-winner and Oscar®-nominee Sam Pollard, MLK/FBI tells this astonishing and tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment. (USA, 2020) 104MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Telluride Film Festival 2020, Toronto International Film Festival 2020, New York Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Sam Pollard

WRITTEN BY: Benjamin Hedin, Laura Tomaselli


Tuesday, October 20th

A young man is sent to “La Maca”, a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named “Zama King” and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. (Côte d’Ivoire, France, Canada, Senegal, 2020) 93MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Venice International Film Festival 2020, Amplify Voices Award, Toronto International Film Festival 2020; New York Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Philippe Lacôte

WRITTEN BY: Philippe Lacôte

WITH: Koné Bakary, Steve Tientcheu, Rasmané Ouédraogo, Issaka Sawadogo, Digbeu Jean Cyrille, Abdoul Karim Konaté, Anzian Marcel, Laetitia Ky, Denis Lavant


Friday, October 16th

On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavy weight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

Based on the award-winning play of the same name, and directed by Regina King, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… is a fictional account inspired by the historic night these four formidable figures spent together. It looks at the struggles these men faced and the vital role they each played in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. More than 40 years later, their conversations on racial injustice, religion, and personal responsibility still resonate. (USA, 2020) 114MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Venice International Film Festival 2020, Toronto International Film Festival 2020, London Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Regina King

WRITTEN BY: Kemp Powers

WITH: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr., Joaquina Kalukango, Nicolette Robinson, Beau Bridges, Lance Reddick


Monday, October 19th

During a series of adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, itinerant punk-metal drummer Ruben (Riz Ahmed) begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When a specialist tells him his condition will rapidly worsen, he thinks his music career — and with it his life — is over. His bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) checks the recovering heroin addict into a secluded sober house for the deaf in hopes it will prevent a relapse and help him learn to adapt to his new situation. But after being welcomed into a community that accepts him just as he is, Ruben has to choose between his equilibrium and the drive to reclaim the life he once knew. Utilizing startling, innovative sound design techniques, director Darius Marder takes audiences inside Ruben’s experience to vividly recreate his journey into a rarely examined world. (USA, 2019) 130MIN

FESTIVALS/AWARDS: Toronto International Film Festival 2019, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020, Deauville American Film Festival 2020

DIRECTOR: Darius Marder

WRITTEN BY: Darius Marder, Abraham Marder

WITH: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Almaric


Saturday, October 17th

Two movie producers who owe money to the mob set up their aging movie star for an insurance scam to try and save themselves. But they wind up getting more than they ever imagined. (USA, 2020) 104MIN

DIRECTOR: George Gallo

WRITTEN BY: George Gallo, Josh Posner

WITH: Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, Zach Braff, Emile Hirsch, Eddie Griffin, Kate Katzman


Saturday, October 17th

In 1973, teenaged Beth Bledsoe (Sophia Lillis) leaves her rural Southern hometown to study at New York University where her beloved Uncle Frank (Paul Bettany) is a revered literature professor .She soon discovers that Frank is gay ,and living with his longtime partner Walid “Wally” Nadeem (Peter Macdissi) – an arrangement that he has kept secret for years. After the sudden death of Frank’s father – Beth’s grandfather – Frank is forced to reluctantly return home for the funeral with Beth in tow, and to finally face a long-buried trauma that he has spent his entire adult life running away from. (USA, 2020) 95MIN

FESTIVALS | AWARDS: Sundance Film Festival 2020; Audience Award, Deauville American Film Festival 2020



WITH: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Lois Smith