Aspen Filmfest: ‘The Upside’ and ‘Wasted’ win audience awards |

Aspen Filmfest: ‘The Upside’ and ‘Wasted’ win audience awards

"Wasted!" won the 2017 Aspen Filmfest Audience Award for Best Documentary. it screened Thursday.
Courtesy photo |

The Kevin Hart-Bryan Cranston dramedy “The Upside” and “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” were the crowd favorites at the 39th annual Aspen Filmfest.

Based on ballots from festival-goers, the Audience Award for Best Feature went to “The Upside” and the prize for Best Documentary was given to “Wasted.”

“Wasted” uses interviews with scientists, agriculturalists and chefs like Anthony Bourdain to examine the faulty global cycles of food production and consumption. It opens in theaters nationwide and video-on-demand on Friday.

“The Upside” is the story of an unlikely friendship between a paralyzed billionaire (Cranston) and an ex-con (Hart) in need of a new start. It premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival and is scheduled for a March release in theaters. The Filmfest screening was its U.S. premiere.

“I am so gratified that the audience response to the programming has been so overwhelmingly positive,” Aspen Filmfest programming director Jane Schoettle said in the awards announcement. “The slate of documentaries, international and domestic fiction features clearly reflected the breadth of interest so characteristic of Aspen audiences.”

Runners-up in the voting were “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” for Best Documentary and Karen Moncreiff’s “The Keeping Hours” for Best Feature.

The six-day festival featured 20 films at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House and Isis Theatre and Carbondale’s Crystal Theatre. It hosted seven sold-out screenings, including Oscar buzzworthy titles like director Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” and “The Upside.”

Filmfest closed Sunday night with a surprise screening of “Call Me By Your Name” from writer James Ivory and director Luca Guadagino. The gay coming-of-age story, starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, has been a critical darling on the festival circuit since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. It is due for a Nov. 24 American theatrical release.

The festival also marked the introduction of newly appointed Aspen Film executive director Susan Wrubel, who was named to the post in mid-September. Wrubel, a film industry veteran previously based in New York, took over the organization from interim director Elexa Ruth, who served as director following the dismissal of John Thew in April. Wrubel introduced herself to the community by speaking before nearly every screening and greeting Filmfest patrons in theater lobbies throughout the week.

“This is an incredible film community, hungry for great stories and engaged in the themes and issues presented in this year’s program,” Wrubel said. “Hats off to my programming colleague Jane Schoettle for curating such a robust and diverse program, and to our Aspen Film crew for the flawless execution of such a large event both in Aspen and in Carbondale.”

Aspen Film’s next festival is Academy Screenings, scheduled to run Dec. 19 to 30.