Aspen Film announces lineup for annual Academy Screenings event

Staff report
Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges in "Ben is Back," which closes out Aspen Film's Academy Screenings on Dec. 30.
Mark Schafter/Courtesy photo

Aspen Film announced Tuesday the 15-film lineup for its 27th Academy Screenings as well as a special fundraising event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

The Academy Screenings event opens Dec. 26 with “Amazing Grace,” a new documentary about Aretha Franklin’s “most transcendent gospel performance 46 years after it was filmed,” directed by Sydney Pollack, according to a statement from Aspen Film. It will show at the Wheeler Opera House and will be followed that evening by “Vice,” a film about former Vice President Dick Cheney (played by Christian Bale).

There will be 13 other films showing over the next four days.

The event ends Dec. 30 with the screening of “Ben is Back,” which stars Julia Roberts as a mother who is wary but welcomes home her son who is trying to stay clean. The film, which is told over one day at their home, is directed by Peter Hedges, whose son Lucas plays Ben in the film.

This year’s film schedule includes: “Woman at War,” “Roma” and “The Favourite” on Dec. 27: “Never Look Away,” “Stan & Ollie” and “Free Solo” on Dec. 28; “Capernaum,” “Boy Erased,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vox Lux” on Dec. 29; and “Bathubs over Broadway” and “At Eternity’s Gate” on Dec. 30 before “Ben is Back.”

“I had the pleasure of curating what we perceive to be the most exciting and provocative films of the season, which celebrate incredible characters, social issues, art, politics and the world around us. Academy Screenings will take you from Mexico to Iceland, from Queen Anne’s court in 18th-century England to El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and beyond,” said Aspen Film executive director and artistic director Susan Wrubel. “Many of these films take a look through a social lens, offering commentary on the state of the nation and the world today while reaching new heights in cinematic achievement. We are presenting world-class directors alongside fresh voices in filmmaking, showcasing outstanding performances, lauding the craft of screenwriting, marveling at captivating cinematography and art direction.”

The annual screenings began as an exclusive, industry-only event but since then has grown into an Aspen holiday tradition for film professionals, visitors and residents.

On Jan. 4, a benefit for Aspen Film and Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Foundation scholarship program will commemorate the 20th anniversary of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” at the Wheeler. There will be a reception before the screening and a conversation with Anita Thompson and other guests after the film. Tickets are $30 for screening or $75 for the reception and screening.

Tickets for the Academy Screenings will be available Dec. 7 for Aspen Film members ($15 for screenings, $25 for opening night) and Dec. 12 for the general public ($20, $30). Tickets can be purchased through Aspen Show Tickets at the Wheeler Opera House, by calling 970-920-5770, or at Industry, voting guild and Academy members should contact Aspen Film directly at or 970-925-6882.

The full program is available at