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Aspen Filmfest 2010 Is a Wrap

Film's 32nd edition of Aspen Filmfest, which ran September 29 - October 3, showcased award-winning narrative feature films and documentaries, as well as previews of some of this fall's most buzzed-about movies. Despite unseasonably warm fall weather, Filmfest drew large crowds into the historic Wheeler Opera House in Aspen and the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale to view independent productions from around the world and hear filmmakers and special guests tell the stories behind their films.

"Contrary to the current chat about at-home viewing platforms and a dwindling market for independent and international cinema, Filmfest showed just how much people love going to the movies," said Aspen Film Artistic Director Laura Thielen. "Enthusiastic audiences at screening after screening proved what a valuable and unique service festivals provide, connecting film lovers with eclectic big-screen experiences and eloquent filmmaker guests."

As always, audience members had the opportunity to vote for their favorite film in the annual Filmfest balloting process.
Aspen Filmfest 2010 Audience Award Winners

Audience Favorite Feature
Directed by Tom Hooper
(The Weinstein Company)

Audience Favorite Documentary
Directed by Mark Landsman

Aspen Filmfest Highlights & Guests
• Opening night featured a benefit reception with The Quarrymen, the band that became The Beatles, in advance of a screening of the critically acclaimed film NOWHERE BOY, about John Lennon's formative teenage years. During the reception Aspen Film guests chatted with the charming and genial band members and posed for photos with them; following the film, The Quarrymen took to the Wheeler stage to play a selection of hits from the early 1960s and their unique brand of "skiffle" music, joined at times by a few intrepid audience members on washboard and homemade tea-chest base.
• Two sold-out screenings of Danny Boyle's highly anticipated 127 HOURS were also a homecoming for special guest Aron Ralston, the trapped canyoneer portrayed by James Franco in this compelling feature. Ralston was an Aspen resident when he experienced the events shown in the film, and he received a standing ovation after the screening from viewers in awe of his bravery and life-affirming resilience.
• Filmmaker guests included director Mark Landsman, whose documentary THUNDER SOUL received an extremely enthusiastic audience response for its depiction of the 1970s-era Kashmere High School Stage Band and the members' reunion 35 years later; producer/cameraman Kevin Walsh from MARWENCOL, a probing documentary about a unique merging of art and therapy that had audiences transfixed both during the film and the Q&A following; local producer Heidi Houston and several of the medical experts from the documentary HOT FLASH HAVOC, which tackles the confusion and misrepresentations surrounding menopause; and director Derek Cianfrance, whose feature BLUE VALENTINE deeply affected viewers through its searingly honest portrait of a waning relationship.
• Sixteen-year-old magician Derek McKee wowed audiences inside and in front of the Wheeler with his incredible card tricks. The talented teen was one of the subjects of the documentary MAKE BELIEVE, which follows six of the world's best young magicians as they compete to be Teen World Champion. Producer Steven Klein was also a special guest at the screening and participated in the Q&A afterward.
• Visiting documentary filmmakers met with students at local schools to discuss their art, and two busloads of eager children came to the Wheeler for the screening of BROWNSTONES TO RED DIRT, which examined an unlikely pen-pal exchange between sixth-graders in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood and war orphans in Sierra Leone. "Documentary formed the core of our Filmfest education program this season," said Aspen Film Program Director George Eldred. "Bringing filmmakers to classrooms and school auditoriums gave students and educators in this remote mountain setting a rare and rewarding opportunity to learn about both the larger world and the filmmaking process."
• Aspen Filmfest's carefully guarded tradition, the sold-out Surprise Film, was MADE IN DAGENHAM, directed by Nigel Cole, and featuring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, and Miranda Richardson.
"Ticket sales were strong, and we thank our audience, Aspen Film's Reel People members, our sponsors, and community supporters for celebrating Filmfest with us," said Aspen Film Managing Director Natalie McMenemy. "We are also blessed to have such wonderful venue partners in the Wheeler Opera House and the Crystal Theatre, both of whom make it all look easy. And we would be remiss not to mention the team that makes it all possible--our volunteer crew. They are integral to Filmfest's success."

Aspen Filmfest was made possible by the City of Aspen, The Aspen Times, Two Old Hippies, Stella Artois, Aspen Magazine, Aspen Public Radio, Hotel Jerome, the Sky Hotel, and Aspen Film's Reel People members.
Aspen Film's Upcoming Events

As Filmfest wraps, Aspen Film begins preparations for its next two events, Academy Screenings, December 20, 2010 - January 1, 2011 and Aspen Shortsfest, April 5-10, 2011. Academy Screenings is this year's slate of films everyone will be talking about come Oscar® season. The internationally recognized Aspen Shortsfest is an Oscar®-qualifying competition for short animation, live action, and documentary films.

For image and press requests, e-mail with "Filmfest 10 image request" in the subject line.

About Aspen Film. Established in 1979, Aspen Film is one of Colorado's most active film arts organizations, presenting more than 200 programs and featuring dozens of guest speakers throughout the year. Internationally recognized, Aspen Film organizes a major film event in every season, along with an extensive education program: Aspen Filmfest, Academy Screenings, Aspen Shortsfest, and Film Educates. Our mission is to enlighten, enrich, educate, and entertain through film. Aspen Film stimulates thought, encourages dialogue, and broadens understanding of our world and ourselves through the diverse spectrum of ideas presented by filmmakers worldwide.


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