April 6, 2020


Five international films become Oscar®-qualified out of Aspen Shortsfest 2020,
including two world premieres
Colorado filmmaker also receives two honors

ASPEN, CO (April 6, 2020) Aspen Film is proud to announce the award winners for its 29th Aspen Shortsfest (Virtual Version). Faced with the potential of cancelling the annual event, Aspen Film leadership quickly pivoted to a private, online Virtual Version format thus preserving the Oscar®-qualifying status of the festival. The Competition Jury awarded films in six categories – Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Short Short (films under 10 minutes in length) and Student Short. Winning films in all but the Student Short category become qualified for the 2021 Academy Awards.  While 70 films initially selected were part of the Official Competition and eligible for Oscar® contention, winners for Animation, Drama, and Student Short did not participate in the Virtual Version of the festival.

Aspen Film’s Shortsfest Competition Jury was comprised of three established members of the international film community: Carlos Aguilar, a seasoned critic and journalist who writes for such publications as the Los Angeles Times and who screens and reads scripts for the Sundance Film Festival and Institute; Pascale Faure, acquisitions executive and curator with major French broadcaster Canal+, and Marie Therese Guirgis, a notable and taste-making NY-based producer of high profile fiction and documentary films.

This year’s list of Award winners includes 9 films by teams in 9 different countries. Award highlights include A YOUTH, a world premiere garnering the Documentary award, and BAG, a film by Colorado-born and New York-based artist and animator Robin Frohardt which was honored with both The Ellen Award, and a Jury Award Special Mention for Animation. Generously underwritten by Melinda Goldrich, a total of $15,000 in cash prizes were awarded to the Official Competition and Youth Jury winners.

For the third year, Aspen Film presented the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, a prestigious honor from the creator-first platform and a live iteration of Vimeo’s Staff Picks laurel. The Award was given to BYE BYE, BODY by filmmaker Charlotte Benbeniste which is now available on Vimeo.


Audience Award: FLOWER PUNK (Japan), directed by Alison Klayman

Best Comedy: POSTCARDS FROM THE END OF THE WORLD (Greece), directed by Konstantinos Antonopoulos
Jury Statement: “Deadpan humor propels this acidly romantic and wholly original story about a crumbling marriage amidst the end of civilization. Beyond the impending cataclysm, the film’s portrayal of the personal tragedy of lost love and the possibility of rekindling it deftly shows us that once our mundane burdens lose meaning, we can focus on what really matters.”

Special Mention for Comedy: MARCY LEARNS SOMETHING NEW (USA), directed by Julia Kennelly
Jury Statement: “The film offers us a very unexpected vision of a middle-aged woman who finds her way through the practice of SM. A skillful script and original characters make this fictional tale a story for consenting adults.”

Best Drama: BABLINGA (France), directed by Fabien Dao (Not part of Virtual Version)
Jury Statement: “Using a distinct aesthetic voice that blends live-action sequences with animation, this film’s assured director constructs a dreamlike and musically driven journey. Memory and reality interact as a man grapples with the people and places he must leave behind to begin anew. As viewers, we are allowed into a vibrant and poignant celebration of life.”

Special Mention for Drama: I’LL END UP IN JAIL (Canada), directed by Alexandre Dostie
Jury Statement: “It’s rare to discover a truly original filmmaking voice and even rarer to have no idea what’s going to happen from one moment to the next while watching a film. A delight.”

Best Animation: AND THEN THE BEAR (France), directed by Agnes Patron (Not part of Virtual Version)
Jury Statement: “Harnessing lines, color, and rhythm in consistently inventive ways, this striking vision pushes the medium to near surrealism to reveal the darkest corners of a child’s complex emotional state. As the director materializes unpleasant feelings into beast-like form, the visceral power of the imagery hypnotizes us.”

Special Mention for Animation: BAG (USA), directed by Robin Frohardt
Jury Statement: “The originality of the technique joins the theme of the film, an animation made with recycled materials that tells us the tragedy of a plastic bag. The result is a cinematic symbol of a new ecological consciousness.”

Best Documentary: A YOUTH (UK, Italy, Greece), directed by Giorgio Bosisio
Jury Statement: “There have been a number of recent documentaries depicting the lives of refugees in Greece and other European countries. But A Youth never “others” nor pities its subjects. We care about them because they are, essentially, so much like us. We respect them because they are braver than we are.”

Special Mention for Documentary: THE STARR SISTERS (USA), directed by Bridey Elliott, Beth Einhorn
Jury Statement: “This film captures an unforgettable moment alongside these incredible sisters. They tell us their stories of life — even the most intimate ones — and give us an inspiring lesson of freedom!”

Best Short Short: SOMETHING TO REMEMBER (Sweden), directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr
Jury Statement: “As melancholic as it is bewildering, this exquisitely achieved stop-motion creation finds profound humanity in its animal protagonists through an eerily soothing song. It’s a bittersweet, bite-size confection that blew us away.”

Special Mention for Short Short: ASMAHAN THE DIVA (France), directed by Chloé Mazlo
Jury Statement: “We would have happily watched another hour of this lovely, clever, fascinating, and moving film.”

Best Student Short: HEADING SOUTH (China, USA), directed by Yuan Yuan (Not part of Virtual Version)
Jury Statement: “The director delivers a very personal film inspired by her own childhood. We follow the young heroine through a night that compels her to consider the culture of her mother and cope with new choices by her father that she must face to gain her freedom. This film of great mastery is made even more touching by its strong characters — a beautiful discovery!”

Special Mention: NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE (Canada), directed by Carol Nguyen
Jury Statement: “Formally intelligent and deeply emotionally affecting, this film gives viewers such a strong sense of each character in such a short time and we cared about all of them.”

The Ellen Award: BAG (USA), directed by Robin Frohardt
Jury Statement: “Environmental activism does not have to be preachy. In a stunning, eight-minute labor of love, director Robin Frohardt uses simple cardboard and glue and an engaging soundtrack to create a visually rich ode to the permanence and problems of disposable plastic.”

Ellen Jury: Steve Alldredge, Linda Girvin, Ellen Hunt, Gail Holstein, Lynda Palevsky

Youth Jury Award: THE MANCHADOR (Norway, Germany), directed by Kaveh Therani
Jury Statement: “The relevant themes of the male gaze and women’s autonomy pertain to not only our generation, but the whole world. While the film focuses on Middle Eastern religious practices, we see the objectification of women in our society and generation today. We appreciate the implementation of comedy and satire around this serious topic. The role reversal, in limiting men’s freedom instead of women, opens the door to a conversation around this issue with a new and creative take. The director’s choices with movement among the actors, the emotional writing, and the powerful cinematography created a fully immersive and comprehensive experience.

Youth Jury: Mac Lampe, Riley MacArthur, Haver Muss, Sebastian Pedinielli, Harper Rafelson, Richie Simeone, Tilly Swanson; overseen by Aspen Film’s Mary McClure & Hannak Pike

For film synopses, please visit 2020 Shortsfest Films.

Working to Enlighten, Enrich, Educate, and Entertain Through Film