Aspen Filmfest what’s playing, when | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Filmfest what’s playing, when

Thailand's "The Overture" opens Aspen Filmfest on Sept. 28. (Phoovarit Phumpuang/Kino International)

The 27th annual Aspen Filmfest begins Sept. 28, bringing the eclectic voices of filmmakers from around the globe to Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley for five days of screenings and special presentations.Filmfest promises advance screenings of new films, foreign films, documentaries and a few surprises.Tickets go on sale Wednesday, Sept. 21. Tickets are available at the Wheeler Box Office (970) 920-5770 or wheeleroperahouse.com or log on at aspenfilmfest.com for more information.And now, whats playingWEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28The OvertureNoon, Wheeler Opera House.(Thailand, 2004, 104 mins.)Director/editor Itthisoontorn Vichailak; executive producers Nonzee Nimibutr, Itthisoontorn Vichailak; writers Peerasak Saksiri, Dolkamol Sattatip, Itthisoontorn Vichailak; camera Nattawut Kittikhun; music Nick Chaiyapak; cast Anuchit Saphanphong, Adul Dulyarat, Sumeth Ong-Ard, Phoovarit Phumpuang.Music is the seductive star of this story of a man destined to be both a musician and the savior of his country’s artistic heritage. Inspired by the life of Luang Pradit Phairao, the last great master of a uniquely Thai instrument, the ranard-ek, The Overture is composed as a counterpoint of memories encompassing 50 years of dramatic change, shuttling fluidly between late-19th-century rural Siam and 1940s Bangkok. Born into a musical family, Sorn shows an uncanny musical aptitude as a very young child. Though his father forbids him to play, Sorn is compelled by his passion for music, stealing away to practice in an abandoned temple. After many struggles to master his art and gain recognition, he eventually becomes a renowned royal court musician. Later, during World War II, Sorn comes out of retirement to fight a ban on indigenous music instituted by government authorities eager to embrace Westernization. Blurring the lines between fiction and biopic, The Overture is notable not only for its affectionate tone, lush visual style and entrancing traditional music, but also for its gentle but firm defense of an endangered artistic expression beloved by its people.Ballets Russes5:30 p.m., Wheeler Opera House(USA, 2005, 118 mins.)Directors Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine; producers Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Robert Hawk, Douglas Blair Turnbaugh; camera Dan Geller; editors Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Gary Weimberg with Irina Baronova, Yvonne Chouteau, Alicia Markova, Frederic Franklin, Alan Howard et al.Unearthing a treasure trove of archival footage, filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine have created a dazzlingly entrancing ode to the revolutionary 20th-century dance troupe known as Ballets Russes. The company’s extended family included such disparate visionaries as Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, Debussy and Balanchine. But its pioneering heart and soul were the young performers who lived to dance. Directed with consummate invention and infused with lively interviews with many of the company’s glamorous stars, this compelling portrait traces the company’s six-decade evolution. After touching on its Diaghilev-era beginnings, the film then flashes forward to its heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, when the Ballets Russes toured the world and astonished audiences with its never-before-seen artistry, and finally its demise in the ’50s and ’60s, when rising costs, artistic intrigue, rocketing egos and mismanagement undermined the company. Appealing to viewers beyond simply dance aficionados, this odyssey celebrates a unique cultural phenomenon: the remarkable merger of Russian, American, European and Latin American dancers, choreographers, composers and designers who transformed an art form and created new audiences in the process.Also screens Saturday in Carbondale.

Capote8:45 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseCapote(USA, 2005, 114 mins.)Director Bennett Miller; executive producers Dan Futterman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kerry Rock, Danny Rosett; writer Dan Futterman; camera Adam Kimmel; editor Christopher Tellefsen; cast Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper, Clifton Collins Jr.In November 1959, Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, read a newspaper account of the murders of four members of a well-known farm family in Holcomb, Kansas. Something about this particular story captured his writerly imagination, and he set out for Kansas on assignment for The New Yorker. Accompanying Capote was his childhood friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The ultimate result, of course, was his seminal account, In Cold Blood. By creating what he called a “nonfiction novel,” Capote opened the way for literary writers to bring a novelist’s sensibility to the retelling of factual events. Capote takes an intimate look at the events that informed the book, including the author’s subsequent friendship with one of the killers. Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a bravura performance as the eccentric Capote, whose childlike voice, fey mannerisms and unconventional dress initially aroused hostility among the rural Kansans. In his first feature, director Bennett Miller not only elicits an indelible sense of time and place, but also probes the lives of the principal players, especially Capote, who was almost destroyed and forever changed by the story he told.THURSDAY, SEPT. 29 Shakespeare Behind BarsNoon, Wheeler Opera House(USA, 2004, 84 mins.)Director/writer Hank Rogerson; producer Jilann Spitzmiller; camera Shana Hagan; editor Victor Livingston.In this compelling chronicle of the creative process and its power to heal and redeem, award-winning documentarian Hank Rogerson follows a theater troupe of inmates over 37 weeks as they rehearse their annual performance of a Shakespeare play at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange, Kentucky. As the troupe’s volunteer director, Curt Tofteland, notes, “Murderers, fugitives, thieves … Shakespeare would have loved these guys.” He has selected this year’s offering, The Tempest, for its underlying theme of forgiveness. At first, watching these burly convicts tackle iambic pentameter is somewhat disconcerting – and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. But amusement gives way to empathy and insight as the prisoners’ stories, and their enthusiasm for their dramatic ventures, are interwoven with the plot of The Tempest. The inmates, many of whom have committed truly heinous crimes, delve deeply into the characters they portray while confronting their personal demons. We come to see them as not just convicted felons defined by their transgressions, but as men who are afforded dignity and another chance to face truth.

Machuca5:30 p.m., Wheeler Opera House(Chile, 2004, 115 mins.)Director/producer Andrs Wood; writers Roberto Brodsky, Mamoun Hassan, Andrs Wood; camera Miguel J. Littin; editor Fernndo Pardo; cast Matias Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Federico Luppi, Ernesto Malbran.One of the finest films to recently emerge from Latin America, this absorbing coming-of-age tale plays out against the dramatic tapestry of events that led to the 1973 fall of Chile’s socialist Allende government. Richly human in focus and visually robust, Machuca views this upheaval through the eyes of two 11-year-old classmates. But much more than a historic polemic, it depicts the joyful immediacy of childhood friendship and its eventual capitulation to a larger reality. One boy, Gonzalo Infante, comes from a wealthy family in an upscale Santiago suburb; the other, Pedro Machuca, lives in a nearby shantytown. In an idealistic experiment to promote mutual respect and tolerance, the progressive headmaster of an exclusive private school admits Pedro and four other underprivileged children. Gonzalo and Pedro soon become good friends, but as political tensions escalate, irreconcilable differences of class and their families’ contrasting allegiances become harder to ignore. Andrs Wood, one of Chile’s most successful young filmmakers, affectingly captures the ebbs and flows of an unusual friendship in an extraordinary moment.Also screens Saturday in Carbondale and Sunday in Glenwood Springs.Ushpizin8 p.m. Crystal Theatre, CarbondaleUshpizin(Israel, 2004, 88 mins.)Director Gidi Dar; producers Rafi Bu-kaee, Gidi Dar; writer Shuli Rand; camera Amit Yasur; editors Isaac Sehayek, Nadav Harel; cast Shuli Rand, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand, Shaul Mizrahi, Ilan Ganani.Set on the eve of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, this heartwarming and humorous drama focuses on Moshe and Mali, a married couple struggling to make ends meet. Naturally, they pray for help, but instead of a miracle, two suspicious strangers appear on their doorstep. The couple face what they consider a test sent by God; if they wholeheartedly welcome these shady visitors, they believe they will be blessed with children. But the guests’ outrageous behavior makes their visit truly a test of faith. This groundbreaking depiction of life among Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox population resulted from the first film collaboration between Israel’s religious and secular communities. Ushpizin marks the return to the screen of Shuli Rand, once Israel’s leading film and stage actor, who nine years ago dropped out of the public eye upon embracing his faith. For the first time a secular film crew was allowed into some of Jerusalem’s most closed neighborhoods, where local residents – including Rand’s wife – made up the cast. Rather than a somber look at religious observance, Ushpizin is a sympathetic portrayal of a little-seen tradition, punctuated with wit, intelligence and plenty of spirited klezmer music.Also screens Sunday at the Wheeler in Aspen.The Squid and the Whale8:45 p.m., Wheeler Opera House(USA, 2005, 88 mins.)Director/writer Noah Baumbach; producers Wes Anderson, Peter Newman, Charles Corwin, Clara Markowicz; camera Robert Yeoman; editor Tim Streeto; cast Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, Anna Paquin, William Baldwin.Park Slope, Brooklyn. 1986. Sixteen-year old Walt sees nothing wrong in passing off a Pink Floyd song as his own original composition at a high school talent show. His 12-year old brother Frank drinks beer and wonders openly about his mother’s sex life. Both are simply “acting out” in reaction to the sudden news that their parents are splitting up. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a literature professor and once-celebrated novelist; Joan (Laura Linney) is a writer whose star is on the rise. From the opening scene, a tennis match between father and son and mother and son, it’s clear there’s trouble in the Berkman family. Love, anger and divided loyalties are all on display, and in the ensuing months the two brothers find themselves caught between the twin towers of childhood, their parents. An exquisitely layered look at divorce and the resiliency of youth, The Squid and the Whale deftly navigates, through emotional tension and inescapable humor, the realities of a family in transition. With remarkable insight and instinct, Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming, co-writer of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) directs a truly superb ensemble cast. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s directing and screenwriting awards.FRIDAY, SEPT. 30

The Black Road: Inside Aceh’s Struggle for IndependenceNoon, Wheeler Opera Housefollowed by filmmaker presentation(Australia, 2005, 52 mins.)Director/writer/camera/narration William Nessen; producer Andrew Ogilvie; editor Lawrie Silvestrin.When it comes to conveying the universal relevance of a remote conflict halfway around the world, the documentary can be profoundly powerful. Print journalist-turned-filmmaker William Nessen achieves just this in his riveting frontline account of Aceh’s rebellion against Indonesian rule, a struggle whose outcome may well decide the fate of the world’s largest Muslim nation. Nessen spent four years interacting with both the Indonesian Army and GAM (Free Aceh Movement). Through interviews, archival footage and Nessen’s unique insider’s perspective, The Black Road captures the human dimension of the escalating war, martial law, the banning of foreign journalists and the 2004 tsunami. Aspen-connected Nessen provides a damning and, at times, harrowingly graphic testimony of the actions of the Indonesian military as they fight to retain control of the gas-rich province. After living on the firing line with the guerillas, Nessen was hunted by the army, imprisoned and twice expelled from the country. The political becomes personal in Nessen’s startling account of his painful journey of self-discovery as he is pulled deeper into the conflict and personal lives of the Acehnese. With Shadia Marhaban, an Achehnese independence activist and journalist, who was one of the negotiators for the GAM guerrillas during recent peace talks in Finland. She stars in the film, and now lives in the United States. Shadia Marhaban expected.

Happily Ever After2:45 p.m., Wheeler Opera House, Aspen(France, 2004, 100 mins.)Director/writer Yvan Attal; producer Claude Berri; camera Rmy Chevrin; editor Jennifer Aug; cast Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvan Attal, Alain Chabat, Alain Cohen.Infidelity, an extravagant automotive purchase and a chance encounter with a handsome stranger are just a few of the symptoms of romantic restlessness humorously observed in this French comedy about commitment. In a classic case of “the grass is always greener,” Vincent and Georges, two married men and fathers in the throes of midlife crisis, envy Fred, a bachelor who entertains a seemingly endless stream of beautiful, adoring women. Meanwhile, Fred wants nothing more than the stable life of his two pals. Conflicts and misunderstandings abound as writer-director Yvan Attal (My Wife Is an Actress) weaves a story that balances desire and humor, yearning and hope. Life can be complicated but Attal is not one to judge, preferring to offer a light touch concealing deeper truths. The all-star cast, including Attal and his off-screen wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg, as the central couple, make this a lively and revealing ensemble comedy of modern day-to-day life. Happily Ever After is a believable portrayal of perceived domestic misery and the search for that je ne sais quoi: the ever-elusive thing called happiness.Also screens Sunday in Carbondale.Independent by Nature AwardAn Evening with Rob Reiner(In conversation with Kathy Bates)6 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseWith this year’s Independent by Nature Award, Filmfest honors Rob Reiner, the award-winning actor, director, producer and writer who has created some of contemporary American cinema’s most memorable and best-loved films. Reiner joins the audience for an evening of film clips highlighting his career and an on-stage conversation with Kathy Bates, who won an Oscar for her performance in Misery. Reiner first garnered attention with his Emmy-winning portrayal as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on the groundbreaking TV series All in the Family. He quickly established his directing talent with the hilarious and now legendary mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. Mr. Reiner subsequently demonstrated a flair for deftly embracing divergent story-telling styles with films like Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men, The American President, Ghosts of Mississippi and more. In addition to his writing, acting and directing pursuits, he is a principal and co-founder of the production company, Castle Rock Entertainment. In December his latest film, Rumor Has It, starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner and Kathy Bates, will be released. Offscreen, he’s actively involved in issues ranging from early childhood development to environmental protection.Rob Reiner tribute dinnerFollowing the Wheeler Opera House program, the Independent by Nature Award celebration honoring Rob Reiner continues with a tribute dinner. Join Mr. Reiner, Kathy Bates and other special guests at the Hotel Jerome ballroom. Proceeds benefit Aspen Filmfest’s year-round youth education programs. For dinner information, contact Filmfest at (970) 925-6882 (extension 105).

Shakespeare Behind Bars7 p.m., The Springs Theatre, Glenwood SpringsWith director Hank Rogerson in person(USA, 2004, 84 mins.)Director/writer Hank Rogerson; producer Jilann Spitzmiller; camera Shana Hagan; editor Victor Livingston.In this compelling chronicle of the creative process and its power to heal and redeem, award-winning documentarian Hank Rogerson follows a theater troupe of inmates over 37 weeks as they rehearse their annual performance of a Shakespeare play at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in La Grange, Kentucky. As the troupe’s volunteer director, Curt Tofteland, notes, “Murderers, fugitives, thieves … Shakespeare would have loved these guys.” He has selected this year’s offering, The Tempest, for its underlying theme of forgiveness. At first, watching these burly convicts tackle iambic pentameter is somewhat disconcerting – and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. But amusement gives way to empathy and insight as the prisoners’ stories, and their enthusiasm for their dramatic ventures, are interwoven with the plot of The Tempest. The inmates, many of whom have committed truly heinous crimes, delve deeply into the characters they portray while confronting their personal demons. We come to see them as not just convicted felons defined by their transgressions, but as men who are afforded dignity and another chance to face truth. Hank Rogerson expected.Bee Season8 p.m., Crystal Theatre, Carbondale(USA, 2005, 104 mins.)Directors Scott McGehee, David Siegel; executive producers Arnon Milchan, Peggy Rajski, Mark Romanek; writer Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal; camera Giles Nuttgens; editor Lauren Zuckerman; cast Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, Max Minghella, Flora Cross.Based on Myla Goldberg’s best-selling novel, Bee Season is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a modern American family whose picture-perfect surface conceals an underlying world of repressed turmoil. Nine-year-old Eliza Naumann (newcomer Flora Cross) can spell words with an effortlessness that surprises everyone around her. Her father, Saul (Richard Gere), a religious studies professor, sees something transcendent in Eliza’s gift and becomes obsessed with helping her master it. As Eliza trains for the ultimate spelling test – the pressure packed National Spelling Bee – her home life undergoes its own transformation. The seemingly tight-knit family – Saul, mother Miriam (Juliette Binoche) and Eliza’s older brother, Aaron (Max Minghella) – starts to unravel as each secretly pursues a disparate path toward their own notion of transcendence. It’s up to Eliza to restore the broken fragments of their world. Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End) create palpable tension as they probe the murky depths of an unspoken but deeply felt family dynamic. Beautifully conceived, Bee Season is an intriguing exploration of what happens when family unity competes with the interior lives and secret yearnings of its individual members.Also screens Saturday in Glenwood and Sunday in Aspen.Sneak Preview9 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseSATURDAY, OCT. 1Moolaad10:15 a.m., Wheeler Opera House(Senegal, 2004, 124 mins.)Director/writer Ousmane Sembene; producer Filmi Doomirew; camera Dominique Gentil; editor Abdellatif Rass; cast Fatoumata Coulibaly, Mamouna Hlne Diarra, Salimata Traor, Dominique T. Zeda.Hailed as the father of African cinema, master filmmaker and novelist Ousmane Sembene has forged a unique aesthetic, blending rich oral traditions and symbolism, social issues and a non-Western sense of storytelling. Now in his 80’s, Sembene brings his gifts to his most recent achievement, Moolaad (“sanctuary”). Coll, the wife of a local tribesman in a modern African village, shelters four village girls seeking refuge from a harmful tribal “purification” ritual. To protect them, she invokes a traditional spell that ensures misfortune to any who harm the girls. Coll’s refusal to lift the spell not only threatens the marriage of her daughter to the heir-apparent to the tribal throne, but also draws the entire village into a divisive struggle between human rights and tribal tradition. With great irony and tact, Sembene’s social comedy weaves a vivid tapestry of scheming Imams and heroic feminists, benevolent mercenaries and Paris-educated tribal chiefs, explosions of song and dance, and more. Though its subject is weighty, this buoyant film is anything but. Instead, it joyfully celebrates women’s resourcefulness and strength.Special PresentationBob Rafelson: Confessions of a Filmmaker1:30 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseSince honoring Bob Rafelson with the first-ever Independent by Nature Award in 1999, Filmfest has been eager to invite him back for a more in-depth session where he could share his unique and personal perspective on filmmaking. Rafelson is an expansive and generous raconteur, admirably balancing opinion with reflection as he observes the art and business that have focused his passion for nearly 50 years. Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or an interested film buff, don’t miss this singular opportunity to delve into the creative process with a fascinating guide. To say he’s a groundbreaking original is an understatement. As both a director (Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens) and producer (Easy Rider, The Last Picture Show), Bob Rafelson was instrumental in reinvigorating American cinema. With films like The Postman Always Rings Twice and Mountains of the Moon, he charted new territory, where sensibilities both visceral and intelligent could coexist. Resolutely independent in his vision, he developed an uncanny eye for discovering talent. Film clips from his work and audience questions will fuel this conversation about how films are conceived, written, cast, directed and produced. Director Bob Rafelson in person.

Recommended Stories For You

Duma4:15 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseAuthor Carol Hopworth in person(USA, 2005, 100 mins.)Director Carroll Ballard; producers Hunt Lowry, Kristin Harms, John Wells, E.K. Gaylord II, Stacy Cohen; writers Karen Janszen, Mark St. Germain; camera Werner Maritz; editor T.M. Christopher; cast Alexander Michaletos, Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Eamonn Walker.Director Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion, Fly Away Home) once again explores the enchanting and unbreakable bond between children and animals with Duma, a beautiful story of a young boy’s journey to return his pet cheetah to the wild. Both a thrilling adventure and a moving tale about the power of love, Duma is set amidst the extraordinary landscape of southern Africa. When Xan and his father (Campbell Scott) find an orphaned cheetah cub, they name him Duma (Swahili for “cheetah”), and he quickly becomes part of the family. Xan eventually realizes that he must return Duma to his native habitat, and the two set off on a long journey across the continent. They soon find themselves up against the desert’s unforgiving elements on the wildest adventure of their lives. Based on a true story, this affecting tale of love, loss and transition captivates with both its stunning scenery and its entrancing depiction of timeless themes. Recommended for all movie lovers ages 10 and up.Also screens Sunday in Glenwood SpringsBallets Russes5 p.m., Crystal Theatre, Carbondale(USA, 2005, 118 mins.)Directors Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine; producers Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Robert Hawk, Douglas Blair Turnbaugh; camera Dan Geller; editors Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Gary Weimberg with Irina Baronova, Yvonne Chouteau, Alicia Markova, Frederic Franklin, Alan Howard et al.Unearthing a treasure trove of archival footage, filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine have created a dazzlingly entrancing ode to the revolutionary 20th-century dance troupe known as Ballets Russes. The company’s extended family included such disparate visionaries as Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, Debussy and Balanchine. But its pioneering heart and soul were the young performers who lived to dance. Directed with consummate invention and infused with lively interviews with many of the company’s glamorous stars, this compelling portrait traces the company’s six-decade evolution. After touching on its Diaghilev-era beginnings, the film then flashes forward to its heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, when the Ballets Russes toured the world and astonished audiences with its never-before-seen artistry, and finally its demise in the ’50s and ’60s, when rising costs, artistic intrigue, rocketing egos and mismanagement undermined the company. Appealing to viewers beyond simply dance aficionados, this odyssey celebrates a unique cultural phenomenon: the remarkable merger of Russian, American, European and Latin American dancers, choreographers, composers and designers who transformed an art form and created new audiences in the process.Also screens Wednesday in Aspen.Bee Season7 p.m., The Springs Theatre, Glenwood Springs(USA, 2005, 104 mins.)Directors Scott McGehee, David Siegel; executive producers Arnon Milchan, Peggy Rajski, Mark Romanek; writer Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal; camera Giles Nuttgens; editor Lauren Zuckerman; cast Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, Max Minghella.Based on Myla Goldberg’s best-selling novel, Bee Season is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a modern American family whose picture-perfect surface conceals an underlying world of repressed turmoil. Nine-year-old Eliza Naumann (newcomer Flora Cross) can spell words with an effortlessness that surprises everyone around her. Her father, Saul (Richard Gere), a religious studies professor, sees something transcendent in Eliza’s gift and becomes obsessed with helping her master it. As Eliza trains for the ultimate spelling test – the pressure packed National Spelling Bee – her home life undergoes its own transformation. The seemingly tight-knit family – Saul, mother Miriam (Juliette Binoche) and Eliza’s older brother, Aaron (Max Minghella) – starts to unravel as each secretly pursues a disparate path toward their own notion of transcendence. It’s up to Eliza to restore the broken fragments of their world. Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End) create palpable tension as they probe the murky depths of an unspoken but deeply felt family dynamic. Beautifully conceived, Bee Season is an intriguing exploration of what happens when family unity competes with the interior lives and secret yearnings of its individual members.Also screens Friday in Carbondale and Sunday in Aspen.

Transamerica7:30 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseActress Felicity Huffman & producer William H. Macy in personUSA, 2005, 103 mins.Director/writer Duncan Tucker; executive producer William H. Macy; camera Stephen Kazmierski; editor Pam Wise; cast Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Elizabeth Pea, Graham Greene, Fionnula Flanagan.When it’s true to its spirit, independent filmmaking is about taking risks to embrace new talent and tell new stories. Transamerica is such a film. We’re delighted to welcome back Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy for a special screening of Duncan Tucker’s feature debut, starring Ms. Huffman and produced by Mr. Macy. In this funny, tartly off-color and surprisingly touching story, Ms. Huffman (Desperate Housewives) gives a compelling performance as Bree, one of this festival’s most unusual and engaging on-screen characters. Bree is days away from her biggest dream – completion of her sex-reassignment surgery – when she is forced to confront a person she didn’t even know existed: her son. Reluctantly, Bree travels to bail him out of jail, and they embark on a cross-country trip during which parent and child slowly move past their initial reserve and tease out the other’s real self. Part modern-day comedy of manners, part road movie, Transamerica examines acceptance, identity and family bonds in ways both brashly comedic and heartrending.Machuca8 p.m. Crystal Theatre, CarbondaleChile, 2004, 115 mins.Director/producer Andrs Wood; writers Roberto Brodsky, Mamoun Hassan, Andrs Wood; camera Miguel J. Littin; editor Fernndo Pardo; cast Matias Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Federico Luppi, Ernesto Malbran.One of the finest films to recently emerge from Latin America, this absorbing coming-of-age tale plays out against the dramatic tapestry of events that led to the 1973 fall of Chile’s socialist Allende government. Richly human in focus and visually robust, Machuca views this upheaval through the eyes of two 11-year-old classmates. But much more than a historic polemic, it depicts the joyful immediacy of childhood friendship and its eventual capitulation to a larger reality. One boy, Gonzalo Infante, comes from a wealthy family in an upscale Santiago suburb; the other, Pedro Machuca, lives in a nearby shantytown. In an idealistic experiment to promote mutual respect and tolerance, the progressive headmaster of an exclusive private school admits Pedro and four other underprivileged children. Gonzalo and Pedro soon become good friends, but as political tensions escalate, irreconcilable differences of class and their families’ contrasting allegiances become harder to ignore. Andrs Wood, one of Chile’s most successful young filmmakers, affectingly captures the ebbs and flows of an unusual friendship in an extraordinary moment.Also screens Thursday in Aspen and Sunday in Glenwood Springs.The Matador10:30 p.m., Wheeler Opera House(USA, 2004, 97 mins.)Director/writer Richard Shepard; executive producers Bob Yari, Mark Gordon, Adam Merims; camera David Tattersall; editor Carole Kravetz-Akyanian; cast Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis.In this dark comedy about a chance encounter between two men, Pierce Brosnan emphatically sheds his suave James Bond persona to play a lonely assassin in the grips of a mid-life crisis. Julian (Brosnan) meets Danny (Greg Kinnear), a straight-laced, down-on-his-luck businessman, in a Mexico City hotel bar. Over late-night drinks, Danny hits it off with the seemingly sympathetic Julian, but is later horrified, and then intrigued, when he discovers his new acquaintance’s profession. The family man and the philanderer forge an unlikely bond, which leads to even unlikelier repercussions for both. In an outrageous performance, Brosnan comes off as a cross between a sleazy used-car salesman and a partyhearty conventioneer who never lets last call dampen his spirits. Colorful in all senses of the word, The Matador simultaneously spoofs the buddy flick and hit-man genre while plumbing the complexities of the human heart. Bold and boisterous, funny and oddly poignant, this is movie entertainment that upends all sorts of expectations.SUNDAY, OCT. 2What Remains of UsFilmmaker Kalsang Doma in person1 p.m., Wheeler Opera House(Canada/Tibet, 2004, 77 mins.)Directors Franois Prvost, Hugo Latulippe; producers Franois Prvost, Yves Bisaillon; writers Franois Prvost, Hugo Latulippe; camera Franois Prvost, Hugo Latulippe; editor Annie Jean with Kalsang Dolma.A young Tibetan now living in Montreal, Kalsang Dolma traveled extensively through her ancestral homeland with a portable DVD player containing the ultimate contraband: a filmed message from the Dalai Lama. Over the course of four trips, Dolma captured the emotional reactions of an incredible range of Tibetans in the city and country as they responded to the image and words of their exiled leader. While the idea is simple, the effect is profound as we are given a truly rare glimpse at a people who, though worn down by a half century of terror, still cling to hope as they talk for the first time to the outside world about their struggles to reclaim their country. Combining archival clips with clandestinely shot footage, What Remains of Us is an extraordinary film made under extraordinary circumstances. Dolma’s willingness to literally risk her life to show the reality of life in Tibet and the oppression that is destroying its culture serves as a rousing call to action.Because of itsextremely sensitive subject matter, this film can only be presented in special circumstances like a festival and requires a security check. Do not bring cameras, cell phones, backpacks or handbags. Doors open at noon.Ushpizin3:45 p.m., Wheeler Opera House, Aspen(Israel, 2004, 88 mins.)Director Gidi Dar; producers Rafi Bu-kaee, Gidi Dar; writer Shuli Rand; camera Amit Yasur; editors Isaac Sehayek, Nadav Harel; cast Shuli Rand, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand, Shaul Mizrahi, Ilan Ganani.Set on the eve of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, this heartwarming and humorous drama focuses on Moshe and Mali, a married couple struggling to make ends meet. Naturally, they pray for help, but instead of a miracle, two suspicious strangers appear on their doorstep. The couple face what they consider a test sent by God; if they wholeheartedly welcome these shady visitors, they believe they will be blessed with children. But the guests’ outrageous behavior makes their visit truly a test of faith. This groundbreaking depiction of life among Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox population resulted from the first film collaboration between Israel’s religious and secular communities. Ushpizin marks the return to the screen of Shuli Rand, once Israel’s leading film and stage actor, who nine years ago dropped out of the public eye upon embracing his faith. For the first time a secular film crew was allowed into some of Jerusalem’s most closed neighborhoods, where local residents – including Rand’s wife – made up the cast. Rather than a somber look at religious observance, Ushpizin is a sympathetic portrayal of a little-seen tradition, punctuated with wit, intelligence and plenty of spirited klezmer music.Also screens Thursday in Carbondale.Duma4:30 p.m., The Springs Theatre, Glenwood SpringsAuthor Carol Hopworth in person(USA, 2005, 100 mins.)Director Carroll Ballard; producers Hunt Lowry, Kristin Harms, John Wells, E.K. Gaylord II, Stacy Cohen; writers Karen Janszen, Mark St. Germain; camera Werner Maritz; editor T.M. Christopher; cast Alexander Michaletos, Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Eamonn Walker.Director Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion, Fly Away Home) once again explores the enchanting and unbreakable bond between children and animals with Duma, a beautiful story of a young boy’s journey to return his pet cheetah to the wild. Both a thrilling adventure and a moving tale about the power of love, Duma is set amidst the extraordinary landscape of southern Africa. When Xan and his father (Campbell Scott) find an orphaned cheetah cub, they name him Duma (Swahili for “cheetah”), and he quickly becomes part of the family. Xan eventually realizes that he must return Duma to his native habitat, and the two set off on a long journey across the continent. They soon find themselves up against the desert’s unforgiving elements on the wildest adventure of their lives. Based on a true story, this affecting tale of love, loss and transition captivates with both its stunning scenery and its entrancing depiction of timeless themes. Recommended for all movie lovers ages 10 and up.Also screens Saturday in Aspen.Moolaad5 p.m., Crystal Theatre, Carbondale(Senegal, 2004, 124 mins.)Director/writer Ousmane Sembene; producer Filmi Doomirew; camera Dominique Gentil; editor Abdellatif Rass; cast Fatoumata Coulibaly, Mamouna Hlne Diarra, Salimata Traor, Dominique T. Zeda.Hailed as the father of African cinema, master filmmaker and novelist Ousmane Sembene has forged a unique aesthetic, blending rich oral traditions and symbolism, social issues and a non-Western sense of storytelling. Now in his 80’s, Sembene brings his gifts to his most recent achievement, Moolaad (“sanctuary”). Coll, the wife of a local tribesman in a modern African village, shelters four village girls seeking refuge from a harmful tribal “purification” ritual. To protect them, she invokes a traditional spell that ensures misfortune to any who harm the girls. Coll’s refusal to lift the spell not only threatens the marriage of her daughter to the heir-apparent to the tribal throne, but also draws the entire village into a divisive struggle between human rights and tribal tradition. With great irony and tact, Sembene’s social comedy weaves a vivid tapestry of scheming Imams and heroic feminists, benevolent mercenaries and Paris-educated tribal chiefs, explosions of song and dance, and more. Though its subject is weighty, this buoyant film is anything but. Instead, it joyfully celebrates women’s resourcefulness and strength.Also screens Saturday in Aspen.

Bee Season6 p.m., Wheeler Opera House(USA, 2005, 104 mins.)Directors Scott McGehee, David Siegel; executive producers Arnon Milchan, Peggy Rajski, Mark Romanek; writer Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal; camera Giles Nuttgens; editor Lauren Zuckerman; cast Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, Max Minghella.Based on Myla Goldberg’s best-selling novel, Bee Season is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a modern American family whose picture-perfect surface conceals an underlying world of repressed turmoil. Nine-year-old Eliza Naumann (newcomer Flora Cross) can spell words with an effortlessness that surprises everyone around her. Her father, Saul (Richard Gere), a religious studies professor, sees something transcendent in Eliza’s gift and becomes obsessed with helping her master it. As Eliza trains for the ultimate spelling test – the pressure packed National Spelling Bee – her home life undergoes its own transformation. The seemingly tight-knit family – Saul, mother Miriam (Juliette Binoche) and Eliza’s older brother, Aaron (Max Minghella) – starts to unravel as each secretly pursues a disparate path toward their own notion of transcendence. It’s up to Eliza to restore the broken fragments of their world. Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End) create palpable tension as they probe the murky depths of an unspoken but deeply felt family dynamic. Beautifully conceived, Bee Season is an intriguing exploration of what happens when family unity competes with the interior lives and secret yearnings of its individual members.Also screens Friday in Carbondale and Saturday in Glenwood Springs.Machuca7 p.m., The Springs Theatre, Glenwood Springs(Chile, 2004, 115 mins.)Director/producer Andrs Wood; writers Roberto Brodsky, Mamoun Hassan, Andrs Wood; camera Miguel J. Littin; editor Fernndo Pardo; cast Matias Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Federico Luppi, Ernesto Malbran.One of the finest films to recently emerge from Latin America, this absorbing coming-of-age tale plays out against the dramatic tapestry of events that led to the 1973 fall of Chile’s socialist Allende government. Richly human in focus and visually robust, Machuca views this upheaval through the eyes of two 11-year-old classmates. But much more than a historic polemic, it depicts the joyful immediacy of childhood friendship and its eventual capitulation to a larger reality. One boy, Gonzalo Infante, comes from a wealthy family in an upscale Santiago suburb; the other, Pedro Machuca, lives in a nearby shantytown. In an idealistic experiment to promote mutual respect and tolerance, the progressive headmaster of an exclusive private school admits Pedro and four other underprivileged children. Gonzalo and Pedro soon become good friends, but as political tensions escalate, irreconcilable differences of class and their families’ contrasting allegiances become harder to ignore. Andrs Wood, one of Chile’s most successful young filmmakers, affectingly captures the ebbs and flows of an unusual friendship in an extraordinary moment.Also screens Thursday in Aspen and Saturday in Carbondale.Happily Ever After8 p.m., Crystal Theatre, Carbondale(France, 2004, 100 mins.)Director/writer Yvan Attal; producer Claude Berri; camera Rmy Chevrin; editor Jennifer Aug; cast Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvan Attal, Alain Chabat, Alain Cohen.Infidelity, an extravagant automotive purchase and a chance encounter with a handsome stranger are just a few of the symptoms of romantic restlessness humorously observed in this French comedy about commitment. In a classic case of “the grass is always greener,” Vincent and Georges, two married men and fathers in the throes of midlife crisis, envy Fred, a bachelor who entertains a seemingly endless stream of beautiful, adoring women. Meanwhile, Fred wants nothing more than the stable life of his two pals. Conflicts and misunderstandings abound as writer-director Yvan Attal (My Wife Is an Actress) weaves a story that balances desire and humor, yearning and hope. Life can be complicated but Attal is not one to judge, preferring to offer a light touch concealing deeper truths. The all-star cast, including Attal and his off-screen wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg, as the central couple, make this a lively and revealing ensemble comedy of modern day-to-day life. Happily Ever After is a believable portrayal of perceived domestic misery and the search for that je ne sais quoi: the ever-elusive thing called happiness.Also screens Friday in Aspen.Surprise Film8:45 p.m., Wheeler Opera HouseFilmfest’s lips are sealed!

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