Aspen Film announced today its balloted Audience Award winners for the 38th Annual Aspen Filmfest. The films 11:55 and My Blind Brothertied for Audience Award for Best Feature Film. Mr. Gaga was chosen as Audience Award for Best Documentary Film with The Eagle Huntress as the runner up.
“We are so pleased to wrap our 38th Annual Aspen Filmfest with these four outstanding films taking the top audience prize,” said Executive Director John Thew. “The overwhelming response from our members and local guests has been so rewarding and we can’t wait for our remaining programming for this year with our annual Academy Screenings and New Year’s Eve Bash in December.”
Audience Award for Best Feature Film (Tie)
· 11:55 – Nelson Sanchez has just returned from service in Afghanistan, and his first day back is full of joyful reunions with friends and family. But he soon learns an enemy from his old life as a gangster is on his scent and seeking revenge. As action transpires over the course of one day on the troubled streets of Newburgh, NY, Sanchez is met with a series of dead ends and impending doom – can he break the cycle of violence in his past? Infused with the desolate look and feel of classic Westerns, 11:55 is a modern, nail-biting take on timeless cinema.
· My Blind Brother – Robbie is a macho and impossibly virtuous small-town hero, running marathons, making televised appearances, and even operating a small charity. He is also blind, and his lovably unaccomplished brother Bill spends most of his days guiding and tending to him. Resentment is already in the air when Bill’s recent hookup, Rose, becomes Robbie’s steady, and the stage is set for a screwball comedy with no shortage of awkward, endearing punchlines. Perhaps we’d feel worse for Robbie if he weren’t such a jerk, and if his brother weren’t such a charming deadbeat. My Blind Brother is the rare romantic comedy that is both hilarious and heartfelt, elevated by truly memorable performances from the leading love triangle. Starring Nick Kroll (Comedy Central’s The Kroll Show), Adam Scott (NBC’s Parks & Recreation) and Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, Saturday Night Live).
Audience Award for Best Documentary
· Mr. Gaga (Winner)– At last! An authoritative and long-overdue documentary on the life and work of visionary Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. In his three decades as artistic director of Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Company, Naharin has developed a revolutionary and electric new vocabulary known as Gaga, characterized by jagged movements and the subversion of dancers’ “familiar limits.” In Mr. Gaga, we are offered unfettered access to the rehearsal room, with high-grade, multi-camera shoots that might recall 2011’s Pina. The history of the company – including their notorious withdrawal from Israel’s 50th anniversary gala after being pressured to perform a military-themed piece – is told in rich detail, with Naharin’s larger-than-life personality at the center.
· The Eagle Huntress (Runner-up) – The Eagle Huntress tells the inspiring story of Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who dares to break the gender barrier of an ancient hunting tradition. For over 2,000 years, hunting game on horseback with the help of a golden eagle has been a hallowed and exclusively male custom. But when Nurgaiv, who comes from a seven-generation eagle hunting family, shows interest and aptitude, she becomes the catalyst for a great paradigm shift through her craft. Uplifting and enlightening for all ages, Nurgaiv’s story is fable-like in its simple beauty, especially as accompanied by breathtaking widescreen Mongolian landscapes.
Aspen Filmfest screened 20 highly anticipated features, new foreign films and documentaries, including four U.S. premieres this past week from Sept. 21-25. Most of the films featured saw their Colorado premiere during the fest. Screenings took place at The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, and the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale. The festival closed with a surprise screening of the film Custody, directed by James Lapine, and starring Viola Davis, Hayden Panettiere, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Ellen Burstyn.
Aspen Filmfest is made possible through the generous support of presenting sponsor The Aspen Times, as well as AspenOUT, City of Aspen, Embrey Family Foundation, Les Dames d’Aspen, Thrift Shop of Aspen and Town of Basalt. Additional support comes from the Alpine Bank, Aspen Club & Spa, and Aspen Public Radio.
ABOUT ASPEN FILM
Established in 1979, Aspen Film is one of Colorado’s most active film arts organizations, presenting dynamic programs and featured guest artists 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. With a mission to enlighten, enrich, educate and entertain through film, Aspen Film stimulates thought, encourages dialogue and broadens understanding of our world and selves through the diverse spectrum of ideas presented by filmmakers worldwide.