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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Aspen Filmfest wrapped

Aspen Filmfest once again provided a broad array of U.S. and foreign films and documentaries that played to big crowds during its recently concluded 29th annual event. Audiences applauded an eclectic range of programs and filmmakers in Aspen and Carbondale, including the Independent by Nature Award tribute to Julie Christie and her highly acclaimed film, Away from Her, and the world premier of celebrated wildlife filmmakers and ardent conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert's Living with Big Cats. The Aspen Audience Favorite Feature Award went to Julie Taymor's eagerly anticipated Across The Universe. Japan's charming Hula Girls and Andrew Wagner's Starting out in the Evening were also at the top of the list. Living With Big Cats shared the Aspen Audience Favorite Documentary with Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine's War/Dance, Shahar Cohen's Souvenirs and Mark Verkerk's Buddha's Lost Children tied for second. The top Audience Favorites in Carbondale were War/Dance and Hula Girls. The Audience Awards are sponsored by The Aspen Times.

Over 7,000 people attended 30 screenings in Aspen and Carbondale from September 25-30th, with many venues at near-capacity or sold out. Audience satisfaction was unprecedented, with over half of the screenings receiving an approval rating of 90% or higher. As Executive Director Laura Thielen observed, "The most inspiring aspect of this Filmfest was the outstanding performances in all the films, capturing every facet of human emotions, and the enthusiastic audience response to them. Documentaries and features alike captivated filmgoers throughout the six-day event. In addition, our educational sidebars reached over 200 students and educators throughout the valley."

From the moment tickets went on sale, the buzz around town was that this Filmfest was something special, beginning with the announcement that the Isis Theatre, the original home to Aspen Filmfest, would once again be a festival screening venue. Securing Julie Christie, who rarely accepts such offers, was an additional coup.

At the Wheeler Opera House on Saturday evening, Independent by Nature Award recipient Julie Christie received a standing ovation in tribute to her illustrious career. In her remarks to a captivated audience she confided that her decision as to whether to accept a role was based solely on the director of the film. The annual benefit dinner that followed at The Little Nell raised money for Aspen Film's festivals, film series and youth education programs.

Aspen part-time residents actress/co-producer Judith Light, writer Robert Desiderio and producer Herb Hamsher joined director Robert Cary onstage to discuss making Save Me. The first of two Aspen Filmfest free community screenings, Eye of the Leopard, was warmly received by filmgoers, who applauded Beverly and Dereck Joubert's three-year documentary tracing the precarious life of a baby leopard. Three days later, the couple received two standing ovations, one after the screening of Living with Big Cats, and the second for their inspirational onstage discussion with Aspen Film's Executive Board member Martha Luttrell, detailing how they live and work in the bush and how their philosophy influences the choices they make in their filmmaking.

Additional guests included Irish writer/director Niall Heery, whose entertaining discussion with Laura Thielen revealed how American country music became the centerpiece of his first film Small Engine Repair, about male friendships and lost dreams. Writer/director Tamara Jenkins closed the fest with an onstage discussion on her brilliantly humane examination of a family in her critically-acclaimed film, The Savages. She spoke of casting Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead roles of two self-centered siblings, and how fortunate that their chemistry was so instantaneous.

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