Filmfest says, ‘Action’ (hero)
July 24, 2006
Aspen Filmfest’s Independent by Nature Award has been given mostly to filmmakers who are considered rebels against the Hollywood way of making films (Aspenite Bob Rafelson, the first honoree) or have shown a knack for high-minded and broad-ranging stories (Sydney Pollack), and actors whose choices reflect a chance to delve into characters rather than blockbusters (William H. Macy).Two years ago, Filmfest honored Michael Douglas – a movie star, yes, but one who has also been a prolific producer, won a pair of Academy Awards (one for co-producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the other for his acting in “Wall Street”), and been a part-time Aspen area resident, instrumental in developing and preserving the Wildcat Ranch.This year, Filmfest has gone pure Hollywood. Harrison Ford – aka Indiana Jones, Han Solo and Jack Ryan, as well as the world’s greatest cinematic action hero – will receive the Independent by Nature Award. Ford, whose films have drawn more box-office action than any other actor, will be honored Sept. 30 at the Wheeler Opera House. The Wheeler event will be followed by a benefit dinner at The Little Nell.
The 28th annual Aspen Filmfest is set for Sept. 26-Oct. 1, with screenings and other events in Aspen, as well as additional screenings in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The complete program will be available at http://www.aspenfilm.org by Sept. 8, and tickets go on sale to the general public Sept. 19.”He’s definitely a movie star,” said Laura Thielen, executive director of Aspen Filmfest, about Ford. “He’s a big deal, and we’re thrilled. He really has redefined the movie-going experience by creating so many distinctive and memorable characters. They’re not just characters, they’re icons.”The two best-known screen icons Ford has embodied appear in two of the most successful action serials in film history. Ford played the mercenary spaceship captain Han Solo in the first three installments of the “Star Wars” series and the titular archaeologist-adventurer in three “Indiana Jones” movies. (Ford is scheduled to reprise the role in a fourth “Indiana Jones” film, scheduled for release in 2008.) Ford has also appeared twice as CIA analyst Jack Ryan in movies adapted from Tom Clancy spy novels.
Other adventure/thrillers to Ford’s credits include “Air Force One,” “The Devil’s Own,” “The Fugitive” and “K-19: The Widowmaker,” the 2002 film which marked his debut as executive producer.Thielen notes that Ford has also had successes outside of the strict action realm. He earned his only Academy Award nomination for 1985’s “Witness,” in which he played an undercover cop in Pennsylvania’s Amish community. He has also played romantic parts in “Working Girl” and “Random Hearts.” Ford had early roles in “Apocalypse Now,” “American Graffiti” and the comedy “The Frisco Kid.”Most impressive to Thielen is the associations Ford has had with several top directors. Ford was directed by Steven Spielberg in the “Indiana Jones” films and by George Lucas in the “Star Wars” movies, and has worked multiple times with Mike Nichols and Peter Weir. He starred in the futuristic thriller “Blade Runner,” an early film by director Ridley Scott, and has worked with Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski and fellow Independent by Nature honoree Sydney Pollack.