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New Views, 3D greet Aspen film fans this summer

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Vail, CO Colorado
Courtesy Magnolia PicturesIranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in "Countdown to Zero," a documentary about nuclear war directed by Lucy Walker. The film is among those being presented this summer by the Aspen Institute.
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ASPEN – Film lovers will see several dimensions added to Aspen’s cinema scene this summer, from a new series devoted to documentaries to the arrival of 3-D capacity in town.

Aspen Film and the Aspen Institute are collaborating to present New Views: Premiere Documentaries, a series that will feature screenings of new documentaries followed by talks by the makers of each film. The series opens July 8, during the Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival, then continues each Monday night through Aug. 9 at Paepcke Auditorium. Program details, including titles and filmmaker guests, will be announced June 7. All of the films will be the sort not generally available outside the festival circuit.

And the theater will get another visual dimension. Paepcke Auditorium is being equipped with 3-D capabilities, becoming the first Aspen movie screen to feature the suddenly popular technology. The Aspen Institute unveils the new dimension with a presentation of the recent animated film “Shrek Forever After” on July 5, during the Ideas Festival. The screening opens a cinema-oriented program at the Ideas Festival that features additional screenings, and talks, including a conversation with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, on 3-D and the Art of Storytelling.



One familiar component of Aspen’s summer culture scene has been eliminated, at least for this year. SummerFilms, the Aspen Music Festival’s movie series that in recent years had been presented in collaboration with Aspen Film, is on hiatus. But Laura Thielen, the artistic director of Aspen Film, says that the New Views series fits closer with Aspen Film’s mission by bringing audiences in contact with directors and producers.

“It’s not only screenings, but also has a filmmaker component,” Thielen said. “Because of the artist component, it’s more closely aligned with our mission.”



The presence of filmmakers not only fulfills Aspen Film’s mission, it helps draw audiences. At last year’s SummerFilms series, the presentations with the biggest crowds were those that had filmmakers in attendance. “That’s what the audience wanted,” Natalie McMenemy, Aspen Film’s managing director, said.

For the Aspen Institute, the New Views series is part of a recent mission to enhance its offerings in the arts. A year and a half ago, Dana Gioia, who was just finishing a six-year term as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was hired to lead the Institute’s newly created Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts. The purpose of the program, Gioia said from Washington, D.C., was to try “to integrate the arts into everything the Institute does.”

The New Views series seemed a way to boost arts offerings, and also to combine the strengths of Aspen Film and the Institute. “It takes the best new documentaries before they’re widely released, and brings them to Aspen as local premieres,” Gioia said. “And to add the Aspen Institute touch, we bring some of the people responsible for the films. So it’s the presentation and the conversation. Which is what we’ve been doing out at the Aspen Meadows for 60 years.”



Film will also play an increased role at the Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival, the sixth edition of which is set for July 5-11. Each day of the gathering will feature screenings or discussions of film.

Aside from “Shrek Forever After,” the screenings program includes three additional documentaries outside the New Views series – “Waiting for Superman,” an award-winner at the Sundance Film Festival about the promise and failures of public education in the U.S.; “Restrepo,” told from the perspective of a pair of journalists embedded with soldiers in Afghanistan; and “Countdown to Zero,” about the escalation of the nuclear arms race. Scheduled guests include director Davis Guggenheim and educator Geoffrey Canada from “Waiting for Superman”; “Restrepo” co-director Sebastian Junger; and executive producer Diane Weyermann and former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson from “Countdown to Zero.”

Film discussions at the Ideas Festival include Journey Into the Third Dimension, featuring the screening of scenes from 3-D movies yet to be released; a talk by DreamWorks’ marketing chief about Twitter and the impact of social media on cinema; and Katzenberg’s discussion of 3-D’s influence on storytelling.

stewart@aspentimes.com


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