Filmfest follies | AspenTimes.com

Filmfest follies

May Selby

Harrison Ford proudly presents his Bob Braudis re-election pin alongside Rebecca Donelson. Photo courtesy of Charles Cunniffe.

The 28th annual Aspen Filmfest drew filmgoers to theaters from Aspen to Glenwood last month. The six-day-long screening series featured a wide range of programs and filmmakers, punctuated by the Independent by Nature Award tribute to Harrison Ford on Saturday, Sept. 30.

During his evening at the Wheeler Opera House, Ford recounted tales of his emergence in the entertainment industry, which began with a film debut in the ’60s and grew exponentially as he took on definitive roles from Han Solo to Indiana Jones to Jack Ryan. Following a selection of film highlights, Mayor Klanderud presented Ford with the Independent by Nature Award. Emmy Award winning talk show host Dick Cavett then joined Ford onstage for a lively interview. Afterward, a benefit dinner took place at The Little Nell, Aspen Filmfest’s presenting sponsor.The 2006 edition of the festival was dedicated to the memory of three community figures whose absence was clearly noted this year. Janie Stapleton, Katherine Thalberg and Nick DeWolfe were longtime film enthusiasts and patrons of the nonprofit. According to Laura Thielen, Aspen Filmfest’s executive director, the late “Nick DeWolfe probably never missed a Filmfest in 30 years.”

Attendance at the fall festival was up over last year, with more than 7,700 people at the screenings at the Wheeler, the Crystal and the Springs theaters. Through its educational programs, Aspen Filmfest also reached nearly 500 students and educators throughout the valley.

As always, audiences had the opportunity to cast their votes for their favorite films. “Live and Become” won the crowds over in Aspen, earning Audience Favorite Feature. The Audience Favorite Documentary was “Shut Up and Sing,” the new Dixie Chicks documentary. The top audience favorite in Carbondale was “After the Wedding,” while the favorite with Glenwood Springs audiences was “Live and Become.”The cast and crew of several productions took part in the presentation of their films. Actress Judith Light and producer Brad Zions participated in a Q&A series with the audience after the screening of the romantic comedy “Ira and Abby.” Aspen local Mark Harvey led an onstage discussion with Tom Bell and Randy Udall, principals appearing in his environmental documentary, “A Land out of Time,” which premiered at Aspen Filmfest.

Through the generosity of various grantors and sponsors including the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation, the City of Aspen, the town of Snowmass Village, The Little Nell, The Aspen Times and Aspen Magazine, Aspen Filmfest may continue to provide its superb programming and educational forums.

Their next event, Academy Screenings, is slated for Dec. 18 through Jan. 1 at Harris Concert Hall in Aspen.For more information on Aspen Filmfest and its programs, contact 925-6882 or visit http://www.aspenfilm.org. The website also serves as an invaluable resource to read about films featured recently, as well as those scheduled for the upcoming Academy Screenings.