A big-screen celebration in a tiny city, the Aspen Filmfest opens its doors each year as autumn arrives in Colorado. Running since 1979, this intimate, independently-minded festival is seen as the antithesis of the cultural behemoths of Cannes and Berlinale – and is often described as all the better for it.
With a mission to ‘entertain, enlighten, enrich, and educate through film’, the Aspen Filmfest contains a carefully curated program of the finest international features and documentaries, with a firm focus on indie works. The overall aim has been to create a unique five day environment for cinephiles of all ages to revel in, via screenings of award-laden mainstream offerings, edgy cult movies, early previews of upcoming releases and much more. Given the festival is now in its 35th year – it is one of Colorado’s enduring and much-loved events – it’s safe to say its mission has been successful.
The fest has run consistently strong line-ups each year: highlights of past editions include Amelie and Fargo screening in 2001, while 2009 saw Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story showcased. Peter ‘Game of Thrones’ Dinklage’s breakout performance in The Station Agent (which also won the Audience Favorite Feature Award) took a bow in 2003, and 2014 saw St. Vincent with Bill Murray (which also won the Audience Feature Favorite) hit the screen at Aspen.
Along with a rich program of features and docs, Aspen holds numerous supporting strands and occasions including educational outreach programs, parties, post-screening dialogues with cast and crew, surprise films and several awards – the Independent by Nature tribute has in the past seen luminaries such as Julie Christie, Harrison Ford and William H. Macy honoured. Other special events have included An Evening with Stanley Tucci which saw the acclaimed character actor take the stage, and a Q&A with director Jason Reitman after a special Festival Closing Night screening of his new movie Men, Women and Children, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner.
The 36th annual Aspen Filmfest takes place between September 25th and September 30th 2015 at the iconic Wheeler Opera House, the ISIS Theatre, and nearby Carbondale’s Crystal Theatre.