Filmfest mixes music and politics | AspenTimes.com

Filmfest mixes music and politics

Stewart Oksenhorn

Country and classic rock fans in Aspen for the weekend might want to make plans for a return engagement, to attend another festival later this month. Not another music festival, but Aspen Filmfest.Aspen Filmfest 2006, set for Sept. 26-Oct. 1, will present a pair of documentaries focused on controversial musicians. On Sept. 29, Filmfest will screen “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” David Leaf and John Scheinfeld’s film about the late Beatle and his antiwar activism. The following night, Filmfest will present “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing,” director Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck’s film about the Texas trio of Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson, and the opinions they expressed about President Bush at a 2003 concert.”They’re both about musicians who got in political hot water because of their stance,” said Laura Thielen, executive director of Aspen Filmfest.Both films will be screened at the Wheeler Opera House at 10:30 p.m. “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” will also be shown Oct. 1 at the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.”Shut Up and Sing” will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in mid-September. The film will be presented in the Toronto festival’s Gala category, a rare occurrence for a documentary. According to Thielen, the Aspen screening will be one of the first in the States, and possibly the U.S. premiere.”The U.S. vs. John Lennon” was scheduled to have its world premiere last Thursday at the Venice Film Festival, and is scheduled for release in New York and Los Angeles in mid-September, with a further limited release later this month.Thielen said the 2006 Filmfest, the 28th annual event, will feature a heavy slate of documentaries. Other films set to be screened in the category include “A Land Out of Time,” a documentary about conservation in the West, with a focus on the Roan Plateau, by local filmmaker Mark Harvey; and “”God Grew Tired of Us,” about four boys relocated from Sudan to the U.S. The film, narrated by Nicole Kidman, earned the audience and jury best documentary awards at the Sundance Festival.A previously announced event at Filmfest 2006 is the presentation of the Independent by Nature Award to Harrison Ford. Ford will be honored in an event Sept. 30 at the Wheeler Opera House, with a benefit dinner following at the Little Nell.Further Filmfest program announcements will be made next week. For further information, go to http://www.aspenfilm.org.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com