The Eisner-Lauder New Views Documentaries and Dialogue Series returns to in-person programming at the Isis Theatre, featuring three film screenings and discussions that will take place over the next three weeks.

The series kicks off tonight with “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” to be followed by “Subject” on July 25. Closing out this year’s programming on Aug. 1 is the film “Still Working 9 to 5.” All screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. at Aspen’s Isis Theatre. Conversations with special guests will commence afterward to further engage audience members in the storytelling process behind each critically acclaimed documentary.

The post-dialogue sessions make New Views an insightful experience, explained Susan Wrubel, executive and artistic director of Aspen Film. Wrubel said while she typically tries to bring in guest speakers and host panels for the majority of Aspen Film’s programming, New Views is special because there’s always a conversation involved and attendees usually get to hear from the filmmaker directly.

She also mentioned how Aspen Film’s annual Filmfest tends to fall within the schedule of a lot of other major film festivals around the world, from Toronto to New York, and therefore it can be difficult to bring filmmakers out to Aspen for the talks.

“New Views gives people a chance to see something meaningful or impactful and be able to talk about it in real time,” Wrubel said. “It’s one thing when people gather in the Isis lobby to talk about films after a screening but another to gather and be in a conversation led by someone involved with the film and in the filmmaking process to give more insight.”

The New Views Documentary Series started in 2010 as part of the arts program at the Aspen Institute. Aspen Film has been involved with the series for many years in some way or another and more recently enhanced its partnership with the institute’s program to co-produce New Views.

“We all agreed on the same mission — to highlight topical documentaries of the time that were coming out and to continue cultivating high-level dialogue around them,” Wrubel said.

Erika Mallin, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s arts program, said the curation process is very collaborative. Starting up around February, the New Views proprietors all go to their “respective corners,” Mallin said, and begin digging into the resources of their respective organizations.

While Wrubel attends and combs through numerous film festivals, Mallin looks into all other programs at the institute to see what’s being worked on in terms of documentaries. She works with her own program’s robust alumni of artists in order to put together the most enriching post-screening discussions around the select documentaries each year.

“We love the curation of these [post-screening] conversations just as much as we love choosing these documentaries,” Mallin said. “Having these conversations spurs a community — people get to ask more and more questions, it doesn’t just end once the credits roll.”

Tonight’s screening of “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down” will be followed by a discussion between journalist Andrew Travers and incoming guest Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords — a leading organization in the gun violence prevention movement.

Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down” tells the story of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, her fight to recover from an assassination attempt in 2011 and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle for gun violence prevention and in promoting understanding of the language condition aphasia.

Both Wrubel and Mallin explained that while the issue of gun violence — brought up in this documentary and through Ambler coming to speak on behalf of Giffords’ organization — is certainly timely, the conversation also will center around the therapeutic process after a trauma and art as a healing modality.

Travers also will be moderating the post-screening discussion for “Subject” on July 25. Directed by Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall, the documentary takes a deep dive into its own industry and particularly examines the responsibility of the documentarian when it comes to how a story is told and how the subjects of the story are treated.

“Subject” explores five acclaimed documentaries, from the 1994 film “Hoop Dreams” to “The Staircase” and “The Wolfpack.” Mallin pointed out the timely significance of this film emerging in what is currently the “golden age era” of the documentary.

“‘Subject’ really caught our eye because it was the industry looking in on itself,” Mallin said. “It brings up all sorts of ethical questions that you wouldn’t think of if you’re just a watcher of documentaries; it makes you wonder how subjects of documentaries should be treated and also think about how their lives had to go on after the camera stopped rolling.”

Travers will be in conversation with one of the directors, as well as the lead protagonist in the film “The Wolfpack,” who also participated in “Subject.”

On tap for Aug. 1 is “Still Working 9 to 5,” which looks at workplace inequality brought to light through the 1980 comedy “9 to 5” and how it’s still very much in place over 40 years later.

“This was a film that needed to be shown,” Mallin said. “It gives us a sense of our own history and the inequalities that still exist today.”

Filmmakers Camille Hardman and Gary Lane will participate in the post-screening panel, moderated by Aspen Public Radio Executive Director Breeze Richardson.

Mallin said that these three critically acclaimed documentaries no doubt align with the intent of New Views — which is to showcase films that bring life to different perspectives and lesser heard voices around a particular issue, people or area in order to invoke conversations, change and potential impact.

While New Views resumed virtually over the past two years, its return to an in-person format invites people back into that shared space of collectively watching thought-provoking documentaries and then further connecting to what they’ve just watched through engaged conversations.

“I’m a big believer in people interacting directly with art,” Mallin said. “And people want that tactile experience of being face-to-face with those involved in the making of a film; it gives them a sense of connection that piles on in a good way to what they’ve just seen.”

The 2022 New Views Documentary Series kicks off tonight at the Isis Theatre and will continue with screenings on July 25 and Aug. 1. Each event starts at 7:30 p.m. — doors open at 7 p.m. — and masks will be required for all attendees except when eating or drinking. Single tickets are $20 ($16 for Aspen Film and Aspen Institute members) and can be purchased at or at the door unless the event is sold out.

Jacqueline Reynolds is an arts & entertainment reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at