'The Sapphires,' 'Argo,' 'G-Dog,' 'Rising From Ashes' win Aspen Filmfest audience awards

By Real Aspen
October 11, 2012
The 34th Aspen Filmfest, which ran Oct. 2-7, showcased previews of new releases, critically acclaimed documentaries and feature films from the international circuit. Film fans of all ages and inclinations filled the Wheeler Opera House and Isis Theatre in Aspen and the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale to view independent productions from around the world and hear filmmakers share the stories behind their works.

Audience members had the opportunity to vote for their favorite films in the annual Filmfest balloting process.

Without further ado, Aspen Filmfest 2012 Audience Award Winners:

Audience Favorite Feature


Directed by Wayne Blair

(Australia, The Weinstein Company)

Audience Special Recognition Feature


Directed by Ben Affleck

(USA, Warner Bros.)

Audience Favorite Documentary (shared)


Directed by Freida Mock

(USA, Chanlim Films and American Film Foundation)


Directed by T.C. Johnstone

(USA, Gratis 7 Media Group and Project Rwanda)

Aspen Filmfest 2012 Highlights & Guests:

- A sold-out screening of Wayne Blair's THE SAPPHIRES, starring Chris O'Dowd, shined on Opening Night. The screening was preceded by a special introduction from Blair live from Australia via Skype. Following the film, the audience enjoyed the Aspen Filmfest Opening Night Celebration presented by Stella Artois and the Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media.

- Documentaries were a focus of the festival, welcoming filmmakers including Bart Simpson of BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!, the classic David-and-Goliath tale following a film company's legal battle against Dole after its controversial 2009 documentary BANANAS!; Cornelia Principe of THE WORLD BEFORE HER, a contrasting look at the Miss India competition and Durga Vahini, a training camp for the women's wing of the Hindu fundamentalist movement; Norm Gershman, Stu Huck and Jason Williams of BESA: THE PROMISE, the emotionally powerful story on World War II Albanian Muslims who saved the lives of nearly 2,000 Jews; Laura Brownson of LEMON, the life-story of three-time felon Lemon Andersen who earned a Tony award soon after finding himself back in the hood; and T.C. Johnstone and Greg Kwedar along with Coach "Jock" Boyer and racer Obed Ruvogera of RISING FROM ASHES, which chronicles the journey of post-genocide Team Rwanda's young cyclists narrated by Forest Whitaker. G-DOG's subject, Father Greg Boyle was welcomed on stage with a standing ovation following the screening of the documentary about Homeboy Industries, the country's most successful gang intervention and rehab program.

- Aspen Film also welcomed back Emmy award-winning writer Mike Reiss for "The Secrets of the Simpsons" presented in partnership with the Writer's Guild Foundation. Giving a hilarious look inside his more than two decades of writing for "The Simpsons," Reiss shared anecdotes and just plain gossip about America's longest-running scripted show plus rare clips including his cult cartoon creations "The Critic" and "Queer Duck."

- Aspen Film's education program, which includes Filmmakers to the Classroom and Schools to the Theater, reached more than 1,000 students from Aspen High and Middle Schools, Basalt High and Middle Schools, and Rifle High School.

"By all accounts, Filmfest was a rousing success. Powerful story telling was again at the center of the audience experience," Aspen Film executive director Kip Hubbard said in a press release. "Each and every film offered a rich and poignant look at humanity, from tragedy to triumph. Filmgoers seemed to not only embrace but celebrate the broad range of cinematic offerings."

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