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Aspen Film’s annual Academy Screenings event returns for 2021 award season

Staff reports
Criminal defense and civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson, left, draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States in “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” which will screen Dec. 15 as part of Aspen Film’s annual Academy Screenings event.
Sony Pictures Classics courtesy image

Aspen’s annual showcase of awards-season contenders in the film industry returns next month with Aspen Film’s 29th annual Academy Screenings, which has a lineup from independent voices to big-name features.

The program returns in person in 2021 after being shelved in 2020, and this year the annual event will run Dec. 12-16 at the Isis Theatre and Wheeler Opera House.

Tickets will go on sale Nov. 30 for Aspen Film members and to the general public Dec. 3. Members of certain industry academies can get a special pass. Tickets can be purchased at the Wheeler Opera House Box Office and aspenshowtix.com.



“Not only are we delighted to be back at the Wheeler Opera House and Isis Theatre for our 29th Academy Screenings after being dark in 2020, we are also overjoyed by the stellar lineup of films we have assembled this year for our audiences,” Aspen Film Executive and Artistic Director Susan Wrubel said in the announcement. “The variety and caliber of film being presented over these five days is unprecedented, offering a little something for everyone.”

29TH ASPEN FILM ACADEMY SCREENINGS PROGRAM




SUNDAY, DEC. 12

“Julia,” noon at Isis Theatre

The film brings to life the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child’s 12-year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (1961) and her rapid ascent to become the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose – and her fame – at 50 and took America along on the whole delicious journey.

“Jockey,” 3 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

An aging jockey (Clifton Collins Jr.) hopes to win one last title for his longtime trainer (Molly Parker), who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years – and injuries – have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion. And the arrival of a young rookie rider (Moises Arias), who claims to be his son, and whom he takes under his wing, further complicates the path to fulfilling his dream. Instilled with an immediately engaging realism by filmmakers Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar, JOCKEY takes audiences inside the “backside” of racetrack life in a way no other film has.

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star in “Being the Ricardos.”
Glen Wilson / Courtesy Amazon Content Services

“Being the Ricardos,” 7 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear and cultural taboos in Academy Award-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama. A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom “I Love Lucy.” Featuring J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda.

MONDAY, DEC. 13

“Speer Goes to Hollywood,” noot at Isis Theatre

How did a man in charge of 12 million slaves become the ‘good Nazi’? A cautionary tale about Albert Speer’s 1971 attempt to whitewash his past with a Hollywood adaptation of his bestselling wartime memoir, “Inside the Third Reich.”

“Hand of God,” 2 p.m. at Isis Theatre

From Academy Award-winning writer and director Paolo Sorrentino comes the story of a boy, Fabietto Schisa, set in the tumultuous Naples of the 1980s. The film is a story full of unexpected joys, such as the arrival of football legend Diego Maradona, and an equally unexpected tragedy. Fate plays its part, joy and tragedy intertwine, and Fabietto’s future is set in motion.

Conrad Anker, seen here climbing in Hyalite Canyon, survived an avalanche that killed his best friend, Alex Lowe. After the tragedy, Anker and Lowe’s widow, Jennifer, fell in love and married, which is told in the film “Torn.”
Max Lowe/National Geographic

“Torn,” 5 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

When world renowned climber Alex Lowe was tragically lost in a deadly avalanche, his best friend and climbing partner went on to marry his widow and help raise his three sons. This profoundly intimate film from eldest son Max, captures the family’s intense personal journey toward understanding as they finally lay him to rest.

“Don’t Look Up,” 8 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

From director-writer Adam McKay, “Don’t Look Up” follows two astronomers (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) scrambling to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth … if only anyone cared. Cast includes Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry.

TUESDAY, DEC. 14

“Citizen Ashe,” noon at Isis Theatre

Directors Rex Miller and Sam Pollard explore the enduring legacy of tennis great and humanitarian Arthur Ashe in a feature documentary as elegant, meaningful and poignant as the life he lived. Ashe’s widow, brother, friends from his childhood in Richmond to his Grand Slam tournament playing and coaching days, as well as confidantes that nurtured his personal evolution from sports legend to global activist, describe the key events that shaped Ashe’s quiet determination to “use what he had to do what he could.”

“Happening,“ 2 p.m. at Isis Theatre

France, 1963. Anne is a bright young student with a promising future ahead of her. But when she discovers she’s pregnant, she sees the opportunity to finish her studies and escape the constraints of her social background disappearing. With her final exams fast approaching and her belly growing, Anne resolves to act, even if she has to confront shame and pain, even if she must risk prison to do so.

“Tragedy of Macbeth,” 5 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

From director Joel Coen, the film features Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in a cinematic adaptation of the classic Shakespearean text; a tale of murder, madness, ambition and wrathful cunning. With Kathryn Hunter, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson and Moses Ingram.

“Red Rocket,” 8 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

The audacious new film from writer-director Sean Baker, starring Simon Rex in a magnetic, live-wire performance, “Red Rocket” is a darkly funny and humane portrait of a uniquely American hustler and a hometown that barely tolerates him.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 15

“Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” 2 p.m. at Isis Theatre

Interweaving lecture, personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, criminal defense and civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.

Haley Bennett stars as Roxanne and Peter Dinklage as Cyrano in Joe Wright’s “Cyrano.”
Peter Mountain/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

“Cyrano,” 5 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

Cyrano de Bergerac (played by Peter Dinklage) is a man ahead of his time. Dazzling one and all whether with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust or with brilliant swordplay in a duel, the hale and hearty Cyrano exults in gallantry and is always up for a challenge. Except, that is, in matters of the heart. This bold new adaptation, scripted by Erica Schmidt, re-imagines the timeless tale of wit, courage and love.

“Parallel Mothers,” 8 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

Two women coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and became pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in those hours will create a very close link between the two.

THURSDAY, DEC. 16

“Drive My Car,” 1 p.m. at Isis Theatre

Two years after his wife’s unexpected death, Yusuke Kafuku receives an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima, where meets Misaki Watari, a taciturn young woman assigned to be his chauffeur. As rehearsals progress, Kafuku finally begins to confront the haunting mysteries his wife left behind.

“The Lost Daughter,” 5 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

Alone on a seaside vacation, Leda (Olivia Colman) becomes consumed with a young mother and daughter as she watches them on the beach. Unnerved by their compelling relationship, (and their raucous and menacing extended family), Leda is overwhelmed by her own memories of the terror, confusion and intensity of early motherhood. Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directorial debut from a script she adapted from the novel by Elena Ferrante.

“Licorice Pizza,” 8 p.m. at Wheeler Opera House

This film is the story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film tracks the treacherous navigation of first love. The cast includes Bradley Cooper, Skyler Gisondo, Sean Penn, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly and Tom Waits.


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