From New York and Hollywood to … Aspen?
Meet Aspen Film’s new Executive Director, Susan Wrubel
When people talk about Aspen having top-caliber talent when it comes to the arts, look no farther than Aspen Film. It’s new Executive Director, Susan Wrubel, has worked in almost every facet of the global, independent film industry. A seasoned executive and film producer, she successfully navigated a multitude of arenas in the film world from film acquisitions, sales, and development, to production, marketing, and distribution. Susan joined Aspen Film in September 2017 as its Executive Director.
With the 39th Aspen Filmfest right around the corner (Save the date: September 25-30), we caught up with Susan to talk Hollywood, film, and small-town life.
Your career spans 20 years and it seems like you’ve done it all. Why Aspen Film?
I have been involved with film festivals before, like the Miami Film Festival and the Rio International Film Festival, but I was always more on industry side, bringing industry guests and trying to forge relationships, but never on the programming side. For 20-plus years, I have been involved in film on the distribution, acquisitions and sales side, most recently as an executive producer, someone who puts people and projects and financing together. The opportunity to join Aspen Film came at the right point in my career. It seemed like a refreshing change to move to a place like Aspen that is so engaged and has so much to offer with its arts and culture being on par with its nature and beauty. The opportunity to helm an organization like Aspen Film truly gives me the ability to all the tools in my toolbox. It felt like everything came full circle for me, moving here.
What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
I’ve always been a facilitator, and more of a producer, but never the person choosing films to be in a program. I’m really excited to be more of a curator and to work in a more intimate setting with a small and talented team.
You’ve spent most of your career in New York and Los Angeles. How do you feel about living in Aspen?
I grew up in a small town. There’s something lovely about walking down the street and seeing familiar faces. People have been incredibly warm, friendly, and welcoming. I thought I might be coming in as an outsider, but this community could not have been more embracing of me. I love the fact that there is such a cultural bent to the town. People are very sophisticated and there is a high level of the arts in general.
What are your plans for Aspen Film?
If you look at music, dance, art, and theatre organizations in Aspen, they are at the top of their game. My goal for Aspen Film is to get us back to that level. We’ve been through a lot of changes in the last year, and we’re in reboot and rebuild mode right now. It’s also important to note that this organization has been here for nearly 40 years. We have a legacy, so we look toward our past with an eye to the future.
Let’s talk about the upcoming Filmfest. Can you give us a preview? What are some of the films you’re most excited about?
I couldn’t be more excited about and proud of this year’s line up. Our Opening Day on September 25th showcases three phenomenal and diverse films, culminating with Steve McQueen’s latest WIDOWS, with Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell and Viola Davis. This is a totally female power film. We have 2018 Palme d’Or winner SHOPLIFTERS, and Cannes 2018 Opening Night presentation EVERYBODY KNOWS, starting Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Our docs are inspiring and cover everything from the Yazdi genocide to New York’s legendary Studio 54 night club, with the adorable PICK OF THE LITTER about the process for training and selecting guide dog for the blind. We also have a couple of other highly anticipated buzz titles, Jacques Audiard’s THE SISTERS BROTHERS with Jake Gyllenhaal and Joaqu n Phoenix, and the ensemble masterpiece, WHAT THEY HAD, with Michael Shannon, Hillary Swank, Blythe Danner and Robert Forester. It sounds as though we’ll be hearing a lot about many of our titles as the fall season gets going.
For more information on Aspen Film go to www.aspenfilm.org