Aspen Film Announces 27th Aspen Shortsfest Award Winners

Aspen Film Announces 27th Aspen Shortsfest Award Winners

Aspen Film, a year-round film arts and education organization, announced today its award winners for the 27th Aspen Shortsfest, which ran from April 3-8, 2018 at the
Wheeler Opera House in Aspen and Crystal Theatre in Carbondale. The festivities commenced on Sunday evening at the Annual Awards Dinner hosted by Aspen Film at Aspen Kitchen.

Aspen Shortsfest is widely recognized as a premier North American showcase for short form comedy, drama, documentary and animation, as well as a destination for discovering breakthrough talent. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) and Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell) are among notable alumni whose earliest work —short films—first screened at Aspen Shortsfest.

“This festival was an incredible showcase that crosses genres and disciplines from around the world— indicated in all of our juries’ award selections. The level of work presented is certainly at the pinnacle of global filmmaking,” says Aspen Film Executive Director, Susan Wrubel. “New industry sponsor involvement from Vimeo and Kodak only added to this year’s experience with compelling panels and hands-on workshops.”

The program explored unique themes through a series of 11 programs featuring the newest and most innovative works of short form cinema. The 2018 slate of films featured 4 world premieres, 4 international premieres, 9 North American premieres and 6 US premieres from filmmakers representing 29 countries. More than 2,500 films were considered, and 77 chosen.

The 2018 Aspen Shortsfest programming team was led by Director of Programming Landon Zakheim and programmers Opal H. Bennett (Athena, DOC NYC, Nantucket Film Festival), Angie Driscoll (Hot Docs), Sarah Harris (Denver Film Festival, SIFF) and Sudeep Sharma (Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Palm Springs International ShortFest).

“I am immensely humbled by the strong reaction to the breadth, depth and scope of filmmaking on display this entire week and the support for each program shown by the attending filmmakers and industry guests,” says Aspen Shortsfest Director of Programming Landon Zakheim. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with the commitment and dedication of all the juries and the passion of the Aspen audience. We’re grateful to be able to provide a showcase for such high-quality work.”

For the complete Aspen Shortsfest program visit


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Aspen Shortsfest is a juried festival with almost all films, many of them premieres, competing for awards in multiple categories. A prestigious jury of film professionals screens, deliberates and awards cash prizes up to $2,500 to the winners, who may then qualify for Oscar® eligibility. As defined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a short film is “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.”

The 27th Aspen Shortsfest Jury was comprised of producer Dominic Buchanan, director Reinaldo Marcus Green and SXSW Senior Programmer Claudette Godfrey. Vimeo, the world’s largest ad-free video platform, as an official partner of Shortsfest presented its new Vimeo Staff Pick Award, a live iteration of its Staff Picks laurel. Outside of SXSW, Shortsfest is the second major film festival to receive the designation and the winning film will be available for viewing on the Vimeo Staff Picks channel on Monday, April 9.

The Ellen Award is named for Aspen Film’s Founder and former Executive Director, Ellen Kohner Hunt and originated from an endowment raised by the community to annually award a film that embodies the spirit of Aspen Film’s programming from 1976 to 1995, upon her retirement. The 2018 Ellen Award Jury was comprised of Steve Alldredge, Linda Girvin, Gail Holstein, Ellen Kohner Hunt and Lynda Palevsky.

The 2018 Youth Jury was comprised of students from Aspen Middle School, Aspen High School and Basalt High School, who select one singular film they determine as the best in the program.


Best Drama: Fauve, directed by Jeremy Comte (Canada) The Jury stated: “With a fully realized vision and exceptionally executed story, this film manages to maintain the highest level of tension whilst capturing heartbreaking human emotion.”

Best Comedy: The Passage, directed by Kitao Sakurai (USA) The Jury stated: “With ever increasing stakes and its absurdist style, this film had us laughing from start to finish.”

Narrative Special Mentions: Emergency, directed by Carey Williams (USA), Hair Wolf, directed by Mariama Diallo (USA), Intercourse, directed by Jonatan Etzen (Sweden)

Best Documentary: The Driver is Red, directed by Randall Christopher (USA)

The Jury stated: “For it’s thrilling, engaging and distinctive storytelling.

Special Documentary Mention: JUCK [THRUST], directed by Olivia Kastebring, Julia Gumpert, Ulrika Bandeira (Sweden)

Best Animated Film: Coyote, directed by Lorenz Wunderle (Switzerland)

The Jury stated: “For its exemplary use of surreal animation to explore hard to discuss emotions, it’s captivating frenetic energy and mind-bending imagery.”

Special Animation Mention: Manivald directed by Chintis Lungren (Canada, Croatia, Estonia)

Best Short Short: Wild Wild West: A Beautiful Rant by Mark Bradford, directed by Dime Davis (USA) The Jury stated: “For making the most compelling use of its short run time …”


Best Student Short: Still Water Runs Deep, directed by Abbesi Akhamie (Nigeria/USA) The Jury stated: “For its courageous and brave storytelling, making an impressive use of resources.” Special student mention: Atelier, directed by Elsa Maria Jakobsdottir (Iceland)


Audience Award: The Driver is Red, directed by Randall Christopher (USA)

Audience Special Recognition: Zion, directed by Floyd Russ (USA)


Vimeo Staff Pick: Atelier, directed by Elsa Maria Jakobsdottir (Iceland) Vimeo stated: “For the second-ever Vimeo Staff Pick Award, we would like to honor a brave and mysterious film about isolation and the tension that arises when differing expectations clash. In a delicate play of genres, the short’s use of stark locations and bold sound design results in an unsettling aura that beautifully lingers from frame to frame.”

The Ellen Award: Magic Alps, directed by Andrea Brusa, Marco Scotuzzi (Italy) The Jury stated: “‘Heart’ and “artistry” describe the Ellen Award named for Aspen Film and Aspen Shortsfest founder Ellen Kohner Hunt. The drama we have chosen for this year’s award humanizes the worldwide refugee crisis and portrays an impossible situation in this perfectly constructed short film.”

The Youth Jury Award: An Uncertain Future, directed by Chelsea Hernandez, Ilana Sosa (USA) The Jury stated: “Because it hits close to home.” / “My parents are undocumented and wake-up every morning at 5am to go to work. They have no criminal records.” / “I have lots of friends who are scared every day of their parents getting deported and it effects them from living a free life.” / “This is fundamentally un-American.” / “Who will take care of these children when their parents are taken away?” / “I think it’s really horrible if a kid will never get to see their parents again if they are deported.”

Follow: @AspenFilm on Twitter & Instagram
Hashtag(s): #Shortsfest18 #AspenFilm #IndependentbyNature

The 27th Aspen Shortsfest is presented by The Aspen Times and sponsored by Vimeo, SAG Indie, Kodak, Aspen Club & Spa, Aspen Public Radio, Alpine Bank and Silverpeak. Aspen Shortsfest is also generously supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, AspenOUT, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media, First Western Trust, Les Dames d’Aspen, Thrift Shop of Aspen, the Town of Carbondale and the Wheeler Opera House (City of Aspen) Arts Grant Program.

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. Learn more at

Katie Shapiro