Aspen launches documentary film series

Films to be presented along with guests or filmmaker

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— New Views: Premiere Docu­mentaries, a new film series presented by Aspen Film and The Aspen Institute, will present not only what’s on the screen, but also another view — that of the filmmaker. Each film in the series will feature a guest, or several guests, to discuss with audiences the making of the film.

The series debuts next month, during the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Fest, and continues with weekly presentation through early August. All films will be screened at the Institute’s Paepcke Auditorium.

The series in effect replaces the long-running SummerFilms series that for the past decade had been co-presented by Aspen Film and the Aspen Music Festival and School. Tech­nically, SummerFilms is on hiatus. But the new series is limited to documentary films and builds on SummerFilms by adding the component of a speaker in attendance.

“By partnering with the Aspen Institute, we’ll be able to create a screening program that is a beautiful match for our mission,” Laura Thielen, artistic director of Aspen Film, said. “Because it’s not only screenings but also has a filmmaker component.”

Aspen Film also is anticipating a jump in attendance from the SummerFilms series. “The film programs that had the guests were the ones that sold out,” said Natalie McMenemy, Aspen Film’s managing director, referring to last year’s SummerFilms. Also, the films selected will not be widely distributed outside the festival circuit.

New View opens July 8 with a screening of a work in progress, “Furious Force of Rhymes.” The film, by Josh Litle, looks at hip-hop as a global force for sociopolitical protest. It will show on a Thursday during the Ideas Fest; all other films in the series will show on Mondays.

“Bill Cunningham New York,” about the photographer for The New York Times, is scheduled for July 19, with producer Philip Gefter and director Richard Press in attendance.

“Waste Land” is set for July 26. Director Lucy Walker’s film examines artist Vik Muniz and his desire to collaborate with workers at the world’s largest landfill, near Rio de Janeiro, to create recycled art. The film earned an Audience Award in the World Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival.

“The Woodmans,” about a family of artists that includes the late photographer Francesca Woodman, and her parents, Betty and George, will be screened Aug. 2. Director Scott Willis will be in attendance.

“Freakonomics,” based on the book by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, is set for Aug. 9. The film, which closed the Tribeca Film Festival, features various acclaimed documentary filmmakers taking on different chapters. Among the directors are Morgan Spurlock, Eugene Jarecki, Alex Gibney, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Chad Troutwine, a producer, will be present.

Presenting films along with filmmakers meets not only Aspen Film’s mission, but also the way the Aspen Institute has historically operated, by opening up discussion.

“It’s the best new documentaries before they’re widely released, bringing them to Aspen as local premieres,” Dana Gioia, who heads the Institute’s Harman-Eisner Program of the Arts. “And to add the Aspen Instutute touch, we bring in the people responsible for the movie. Which is what we’ve been doing out at the Aspen Meadows for 60 years.”

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