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Aspen Filmfest preview

The 28th annual Aspen Filmfest runs September 26 through October 1, 2006, in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. For six days this resort valley’s favorite fall party will host advance previews of new films and award-winning documentaries from six of seven continents, as well as a tribute to Harrison Ford. With the chance to be among the first in the States to see some films, as well as enjoy highlights from the festival circuit, Aspen audiences will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite feature and documentary. Tickets go on sale to the general public on September 19 and the full schedule (with film descriptions) is available at www.aspenfilm.org. For more information, call 970.925.6882.

Executive director of Aspen Filmfest, Laura Thielen, observes: "Every year we strive to capture and distill the vast movie landscape into a succinct program that will entertain and enthrall. With features and documentaries from the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Australia, our lineup is an exciting mix of new work that has been blazing the international circuit. Whether it's a live conversation with Harrison Ford or the first-ever Aboriginal feature, this edition of Aspen Filmfest puts the emphasis on discovering the original in filmmaking."


Harrison Ford
Among this year’s highlights, Harrison Ford will be honored with Aspen Filmfest’s Independent by Nature Award in recognition of his tremendous contribution to modern cinema. The tribute will take place Saturday, September 30 at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen and will be followed by a benefit dinner at The Little Nell. An Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, Ford has proven over decades of work (including 39 feature films) that he is the action hero, the tentative romantic, the deeply committed cop and so much more. Some of his standout performances include Blade Runner, Working Girl, Witness, The Mosquito Coast, Sabrina, The Fugitive, Patriot Games, and of course, the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies. In addition, Ford has worked with some of the greatest contemporary directors, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Weir, Mike Nichols and Ridley Scott. Past recipients of the Independent by Nature Award include Anjelica Huston, Sydney Pollack, William H. Macy, Bob Rafelson, Michael Douglas and Rob Reiner.


New Documentaries
Musicians, social activists, and humanitarian adventurers dominate the documentaries showing at Aspen Filmfest. Fresh from the Toronto Film Festival, two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's Shut Up and Sing about the Dixie Chicks will make one of its first U.S. bows at the festival. David Leaf and John Scheinfeld delve into the Lennon-Ono archives for their fascinating documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon. Making its world premier is Mark Harvey’s new timely documentary, A Land out of Time, chronicling oil and gas drilling in the West including Colorado’s Roan Plateau. (Both screenings of this film will be followed by a discussion with some of the film’s principals.) Already on the short track for Oscar consideration is God Grew Tired of Us. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury and Audience Awards, Christopher Quinn and Tommy Walker’s film follows the inspiring true story of three Sudanese refugees who come to America. Tribeca Film Festival winner Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady) delves into the heart – and souls – of America’s Evangelical movement. Rounding out the documentary selection are two modern adventure stories imbued with a deep humanitarian spirit and set in geopolitical hotspots: Beyond the Call (Adrian Belic, Ghengis Blues) and the internationally acclaimed Smiling in a War Zone (Simone Aaberg Kaern, Denmark.)


New Features Including Festival Closer, Stephen Frears’s THE QUEEN
Another film to have one of its first U.S. screenings at Filmfest is The Queen, the latest from Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity, Mrs. Henderson Presents). Helen Mirren stars as HM Elizabeth II in this intimate, often acidly funny behind-the-scenes look at the British royal family and the newly elected Tony Blair during the days immediately following the death of Princess Diana.

Other new features include: Starter for Ten (Tom Vaughan, USA/UK), a frequently funny drama about a working class boy’s first year at Bristol University starring James McAvoy and executive produced by Tom Hanks. Winner of the Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award, Ira and Abby (directed by Robert Cary, written by and starring Jessica Westfeldt, Kissing Jessica Stein) offers a sweetly hilarious take on family, fidelity and marriage. (Actors Chris Messina and Judith Light expected.) Days of Glory (Rachid Bouchereb, France) is a gripping WWII tale with a powerful message whose ensemble cast received the Best Actor Award at Cannes Film Festival in May. From France and Israel comes Radu Mihaileanu’s moving epic Live and Become, which has been garnering audience awards on the international festival circuit. A hit in its native Denmark, After the Wedding (Susanne Biers) is a sober family drama with surprising twists from the creative team of last year’s acclaimed Brothers. Maria Maggenti’s Puccini for Beginners offers a lighthearted, quick-witted New York tale about love, commitment and a surprising triangle. A delight at the Cannes Film Festival, Ten Canoes marks a masterful and thoroughly original collaboration between Australian director Rolf de Heer and an Aboriginal community. Screenwriter-turned-director Jeremy Brock’s Driving Lessons stars Rupert Grint (of the Harry Potter series), Laura Linney and Julie Walters in a coming-of-age drama about an unlikely friendship. From Argentina comes Daniel Burman’s charming Family Law about a grown son who’s not quite sure how to follow in his father’s impressive footsteps. Erich Khoo’s Be with Me is a tender ode to love, destiny and hope from Singapore. Following a time-honored Filmfest tradition, there will be the annual Surprise Film, also making one of its first North American debuts.


Grantors & Sponsors
The 28th annual Aspen Filmfest is grateful for its grantors and sponsors, without which our festival would not be possible. Our generous supporters include Angel Extraordinaire, The Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation; Grantors, The City of Aspen and Town of Snowmass Village; Presenting Sponsor, The Little Nell; Supporting Sponsor, The Aspen Times; Contributing Sponsor, Aspen Magazine; Hospitality Sponsors, Aspen Alps, Aspen Square, The Boomerang Lodge, The Gant, Hotel Jerome, Little Red Ski Haus, Molly Gibson Lodge, Mountain Chalet, North of Nell and Snowmass Lodging Company; Media Sponsors Aspen Public Radio, KDNK, KSNO, KSPN, Plum TV, and The New York Times. Special thanks also to our Business Contributors BIOTA, Boogies, Colorado Audio Visual, HD Cinema, Isberian Rug Company, Paris Underground, The Travel Agents and words pictures colours graphic design.

Screening in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, tickets for Aspen Filmfest go on sale to the general public on September 19 and the full schedule (with film descriptions) is available at www.aspenfilm.org. For more information, call 970.925.6882.

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