Filmfest ’05 offers myriad movie choices | AspenTimes.com

Filmfest ’05 offers myriad movie choices

Stewart Oksenhorn

Richard Gere and Flora Cross star in "Bee Season," showing at Aspen Filmfest 2005.

Aspen Filmfest’s 27th annual festival next month brings the usual mixed package: movie stars and local faces, enlightening documentaries and big-budget entertainment. The festival will look back at one of Hollywood’s most accomplished bodies of recent work, and look ahead to some of the prestigious films that will likely be jockeying for Academy Award position early next year.

Filmfest is set for Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, with programs in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The full program will be announced Sept. 9, and tickets will go on sale Sept. 21.

Among the stars coming out on the Filmfest screen are Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche and Pierce Brosnan.

Gere and Binoche star in “Bee Season,” directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel. The film was adapted by Naomi Foner, the mother of actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, from Myla Goldberg’s 2000 novel about a mentally ill wife and a father who distracts himself with his daughter’s spelling bee. “Bee Season” shows next month at the Toronto Film Festival, and is scheduled for limited release in November.

“They’re interested in the psychological thriller,” said Aspen Filmfest executive director Laura Thielen of McGehee and Siegel, the team behind 2001’s “The Deep End.” “But it’s the emotions of the family that create the tension. It’s all about interior.”

Brosnan stars in “The Matador” as a hit man in the throes of a midlife crisis, when he meets a straight-laced businessman (Greg Kinnear) in a Mexico City bar. The film, co-starring Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall and Dylan Baker, showed at the Sundance Festival in January and is set for limited release in November.

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Stepping into Filmfest’s spotlight is Rob Reiner, who will receive the Independent By Nature Award in a ceremony at the Wheeler Opera House Sept. 30. Reiner’s directorial efforts include “Stand By Me,” “This Is Spinal Tap,” “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men.” Since establishing himself as an actor, playing Mike Stivic in “All in the Family,” he has appeared on the big screen in “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Primary Colors” and “The Story of Us.”

“He’s embraced so many kinds of media in different ways,” said Thielen. “In terms of contemporary cinema, he’s made some of the most beloved films of the last 20 years. And they resonate with audiences of all ages, and that’s a rare thing.”

Among the documentaries to be screened in Filmfest’s True Stories segment is “Shakespeare Behind Bars,” about a theater program in a Kentucky prison. Hank Rogerson’s film tracks a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

“It’s interesting to see how the characters in the play choose the inmates, how they resonate with who the different inmates are. And how it works the inmates, how it works as cathartic therapy,” said Thielen. “Even though these guys are in for heinous crimes, it reminds you that behind every criminal is a human being and a heart.”

Other documentaries to be screened include “The Black Road,” photojournalist William Neesen’s hour-long film about the Indonesian province of Aceh’s struggle for independence; “What Remains of Us,” a clandestinely shot portrait of China’s occupation and cultural genocide in Tibet; and “Ballets Russes,” about a company of dancers who gave birth to modern ballet.

Other feature films on the schedule include “Capote,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote and set while the writer was developing the story for his true-crime book “In Cold Blood”; and “Transamerica,” starring Felicity Huffman as a preoperative transsexual whose life turns when she learns that, as a man, she fathered a son. Huffman, a Woody Creek product, is expected in attendance, as is William H. Macy, her husband and the film’s executive producer.

Aspenite Bob Rafelson, director of “Mountains of the Moon,” “Five Easy Pieces” and other films, will give a master class in directing.

The family-oriented ScreenPlay! program will include a screening of the feature-length “Duma.” Directed by Carroll Ballard (“Fly Away Home,” The Black Stallion”), Duma is based on the true-life story of a South African boy and the cheetah he raises.

Filmfest will also show its surprise film ” and a sneak preview.

Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com

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