ASPEN FILM ANNOUNCES STELLAR PROGRAM OF 80 FILMS FOR ITS ANNUAL SHORTSFEST CELEBRATING ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY
March 11, 2021
Oscar®-Qualifying Competition Highlights Notable Filmmakers and Talent including Dev Patel, Will Ferrell, Zachary Woods, Dylan McDermott, Kerris Dorsey, Jeremy Sisto, Hiam Abbas, Wyatt Cenac and Rayka Zehtabchi
55 TITLES DIRECTED OR CO-DIRECTED BY WOMEN
ASPEN, CO (March 8th, 2021) – Aspen Film, the year-round film arts and education organization, today announced its program for the 30th Aspen Shortsfest, April 6-11, 2021. One of only four Oscar®-qualifying festivals in the U.S. strictly dedicated to short films, Aspen Shortsfest is recognized as one of the premier short film festivals, showcasing the best in cinema from around the world.
Celebrating three decades of shorts, the 30th Aspen Shortsfest is Oscar®-qualifying in the three categories of animation, documentary and live-action narrative film. This year’s Shortsfest features filmmakers exploring unique and timely themes in the festival’s five categories: Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama and Short Short. The 2021 slate of films features 6 world premieres, 3 international premieres, 7 North American premieres and 15 U.S. premieres from filmmakers representing 33 countries and 6 continents. Almost 3,000 films were submitted for consideration with 80 selected for this year’s virtual event. 55 films are directed or co-directed by women, accounting for 69% of the program.
The lineup features wildly imaginative and talented individuals from around the world. Highlights include David, starring actor/comedian and “SNL” alum Will Ferrell (Elf, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) and written and directed by Zachary Woods (TV’s “The Office” and “Silicon Valley”); Roborovski co-directed by acclaimed British actor/filmmaker Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel); Proof of Loss starring Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, TV’s “The Practice” and “American Horror Story”); Silvertone directed by and starring Kerris Dorsey (TV’s “Ray Donovan”); Wichita starring Jeremy Sisto (TV’s “Law & Order,” “Six Feet Under” and “Suburgatory”), Sofa So Good starring Palestinian actress and film director Hiam Abbas (Blade Runner 2049, TV’s “Succession”); The Price of Cheap Rent starring Wyatt Cenac (Barry Jenkins’s Medicine for Melancholy, TV’s “The Daily Show” and “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas”) and Are You Still There? directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, the first Iranian woman to win an Oscar® for the short documentary, Period. End of Sentence.
“We are so proud to be presenting another incredible roster of films from around the globe for this year’s Shortsfest,” says Aspen Film Executive + Artistic Director, Susan Wrubel. “While we are disappointed not to be able to traditionally hold our 30th anniversary at the historic Wheeler Opera House, this year we are presenting an exciting line up of interactive virtual events as a sidebar to the screening portion of the festival, complete with some interactive iconic Aspen buildings which guests and filmmakers can enter virtually to experience another level of Shortsfest.”
Shortsfest Director of Programming Jason Anderson states, “We’re thrilled to be celebrating Aspen Shortsfest’s 30th birthday with such a stylistically diverse showcase of amazing new works by some of the most exciting emerging and established filmmakers from all over the world. The 80 titles in this year’s program demonstrate the breadth, depth and incredible diversity of film talent that we have the privilege of introducing to our audience.”
This year’s jury includes Shortsfest alum Meryam Joobeur, the Tunisian-American director who received an Oscar®-nomination for Best Live Action Short Film for Brotherhood; United Talent Agency agent Keya Khayatian; and Rachel Rosen, a San Francisco Bay Area-based independent film programmer and awards consultant who is currently a member of the selection committee for The New York Film Festival.
As part of this year’s festival Industry Program, a series of virtual panels will be featured throughout Shortsfest including a RED Digital Cinema camera panel – Intro to the RED Arsenal presented by RED’s James Lucarelli and The Role of Sound Design presented by Dolby’s Glenn Kiser, along with a panel about the dramatic growth of virtual cinema, presented by Eventive co-founder Iddo Patt.
Industry special guests for 2021 also include curator Opal Hope Bennett, who recently became the Shorts Producer for POV as well as the Director of Filmmaker Development for DOCNYC; Inga Diev, General Manager of Ouat Media, the Toronto-based international sales and distribution company specializing in short films; Sudeep Sharma, a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival with a focus on documentary feature films and Co-Director of Programming for the Palm Springs International ShortFest; and Diana Williams, an award-winning producer and co-founder of Kinetic Energy Entertainment.
Shortsfest Programming Director Jason Anderson will host an in-depth conversation with award-winning filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green on the evening of Saturday, April 10. Green is a Shortsfest alum whose first feature, Monsters & Men, won the Special Dramatic Jury Prize at Sundance in 2018. His second feature Joe Bell was written by Oscar®-winning screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry and stars Mark Wahlberg, Reid Miller, Connie Britton, Maxwell Jenkins, and Gary Sinise. The film is scheduled for release later this year, as is his recently wrapped third feature King Richard, a biographical drama for Warner Brothers starring Will Smith as Richard Williams, father and coach to Venus and Serena Williams. Green’s next project will be the highly anticipated untitled Bob Marley biopic for Paramount Pictures.
Continuing a Shortsfest tradition, the Ellen Jury will present its annual Ellen Award for artistic merit and originality to a distinguished filmmaker. The Ellen Award honors the memory of Aspen Film’s founder and first executive director Ellen Kohner Hunt, who retired in 1995 and recently passed away.
For the fourth year, Aspen Film is proud to be able to present the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, a live iteration of the platform’s Staff Pick laurel. The winning film receives a $2,500 cash prize and will become available for viewing worldwide on the Vimeo Staff Pick channel after the festival.
Following in the tradition of Oscar® success, 2020 Shortsfest’s Daughter by Daria Kashcheeva, and Sister by Siqi Song were both nominated for Best Animated Short Film. And in 2019, Brotherhood by Meryam Joobeur (who serves on this year’s jury) and Nefta Football Club by Yves Piat were nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.
The festival is an industry-recognized destination for discovering breakthrough talent. Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), Trey Parker (TV’s “South Park,” The Book of Mormon) and Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell) are among notable alumni whose short films first screened at Aspen Shortsfest before they became household names.
Aspen Film partner Eventive will be hosting the festival’s 2021 film & Livestream Q&A viewing platform. Festival goers will have the option to view films on their computers or devices, as well as on their Smart TV’s via the Eventive App for Roku, Apple TV or Chromecast. Nightly live Q&As with Shortsfest filmmakers will take place on Eventive and be available to all festival ticket or passholders.
To further augment the virtual experience, Aspen Film is partnering with Filmocracy to provide an engaging and interactive experience for filmmakers and festival-goers alike. VIP and Full Virtual Passholders will be able to “enter” iconic downtown Aspen Buildings to engage in daily Sip & Chat Industry Conversation & Mingling Sessions. A virtual map of Aspen will feature the following events spaces: The virtual Aspen Art Museum that will be the social space for the nightly Sip & Chat sessions; the virtual Hotel Jerome will serve as the virtual Filmmaker Lounge; the virtual Red Brick Center for the Arts hosting the Education Hub, and the virtual Wheeler Opera House that will be the portal to enter the festival’s Eventive screening platform.
Again at Shortsfest, Aspen Film’s FilmEducates is providing interactive, online educational opportunities to schools throughout Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley and beyond. Their beloved programs – Filmmakers to the Classroom, Young Filmmaker Labs, and Making Movies Matter – will now be hosted completely online as filmmakers join virtual classrooms to screen their films presented at this year’s festival and engage with students. The FilmEducates Youth Jury will meet daily via Zoom to vote on the coveted Youth Jury Award presented during the festival’s award event.
For all ticket inquiries and available pass options, please visit www.aspenfilm.org.
30th ANNUAL ASPEN SHORTSFEST LINEUP
A BROKEN HOUSE
When Syrian architect Mohamad Hafez got trapped in the United States, he realized if he couldn’t return home, he could make home. A skilled architectural model-maker, he spent his years in exile sculpting life-like renditions of his Damascus neighborhood. When the civil war broke out and his parents fled to the United States as refugees, Mohamad’s bottled-up frustration erupted on his models. In a fit of mania, he broke his artworks, leaving them shattered, bombed-out replicas of the Syrian buildings he saw on the news. (Jimmy Goldblum, USA, Lebanon, 20MIN)
À LA MODE
In a kingdom tormented by fashion crazes, a queen and her court must always keep up with the new trend. If not, an abominable monster will consume them: the Ridicule. (Jean Lecointre, France, 9MIN)
A TINY TALE
A dog gets abandoned on the side of the road. Attached to a streetlight, he stays alone until the day he meets a young astronaut wannabe and a professional cyclist who keeps on trying to beat her highest score. With spring as a backdrop, we wanted to use moments of simple lives to discover little stories that intertwine with each other. A microcosm that settles on a split-screen where the different characters evolve at the same time. (Sylvain Cuvillier, Chloe Bourdic, Theophile Coursimault, Noemie Halberstam, Maylis Mosny, Zijing Ye, France, 8MIN)
AFFAIRS OF THE ART
How many obsessions can one family have? In Joanna Quinn and Les Mills’ AFFAIRS OF THE ART, we reconnect with Beryl, the working-class heroine who not only reveals her own obsession with drawing but exposes the addictions of her eccentric family, which include pickling, screw threads and pet taxidermy. (Joanna Quinn, UK, Canada, 16MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
In a cotton-farming village in Sudan, 15-year-old Nafisa has a crush on Babiker, but her parents have arranged her marriage to Nadir, a young Sudanese businessman living abroad. Nafisa’s grandmother Al-Sit, the powerful village matriarch, has her own plans for Nafisa’s future. But can Nafisa choose for herself? (Suzannah Mirghani, Sudan, Qatar, 20MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Alejandra is a criminalized organizer and unapologetic immigrant. While she prepares for one of the biggest events of her life — her deportation case — Alejandra is forced to reckon with a past mistake and a system that threatens to deport her and give her life an unexpected direction. She is up against an unjust system that threatens to tear her apart from her family and displace her from the only home she has ever known. This is her fight to be free. (Maya Cueva, USA, 17MIN)
Aniksha is a young woman from the Indo-Mauritian diaspora. After her arranged marriage, she finds a job at a call centre, a booming industry in Mauritius. There she encounters her enigmatic supervisor and discovers a world of possibilities. This new world view places Aniksha between the choice of tradition or of a modern lifestyle. (Vincent Toi, Canada, 20MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
ARE YOU STILL THERE?
On a hot day in the valley, Safa’s car battery dies, leaving her stranded in a strip mall parking lot. As she waits for help to arrive, she’s forced to confront her new reality. When her mom finally comes to her rescue that night, the two struggle to jump-start a car for the first time. (Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, USA, 15MIN)
Mountain biker and artist Jill Kintner brings her character drawings to life as they race down Bandit Hill to outrun an onslaught of angry clouds and terribly-behaving weather. Full of mud monsters, happy trees, and fluffy clouds oozing personality, the trio of Squirrel, Fox, and Snail look to Jill to save them from the storm! This magical, hybrid animation and live action piece brings together one of the world’s top mountain bikers with a far-away land pulled straight out of her imagination. (Scotty Carlson, USA, 4MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
BETWEEN YOU AND MILAGROS
At fifteen, Milagros’ world still revolves around her mother’s affection. This summer an unexpected encounter with death will make her question their relationship and her own existence. (Mariana Saffon, Colombia, USA, 20MIN)
The sequel to the viral short film MARATHON, BLACK BODIES follows a black man (Komi Olaf) lamenting as he comes face-to-face with the realities of being black in the 21st century. (Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, Canada, 5MIN)
After his father gets into a fight at a bowling alley, Darious begins to investigate the limitations of his own manhood. (Miles Warren, USA, 10MIN)
On a thriving insect farm in the small town of LaBelle, Florida, four women from distinctly different backgrounds come together to raise and produce hundreds of thousands of roaches, crickets, and superworms. In this warm, relaxed portrait of womanhood and work, the farm serves as the background to women who’ve come to insect farming with disparate motivations–including economic opportunity, reimagining the future of food, and the love and caretaking of the bugs themselves. (Lydia Cornett, USA, 14MIN)
CHUJ BOYS OF SUMMER
CHUJ BOYS OF SUMMER is the story of a close-knit group of Guatemalans living and working in a small Rocky Mountain town. It centers on two boys–one a new arrival, the other preparing to leave–and details the handoff of place and purpose between the two. It is a story of hope, home, and friendship in a strange place. (Max Walker-Silverman, USA, Guatemala, 16MIN)
CLOSE TIES TO HOME COUNTRY
Akanksha, a young immigrant (originally from India but who grew up in Saudi Arabia) is dog sitting Timothee, the baby Frenchie of Instagram influencers India and Harry, while they’re on a trip to India. Akanksha’s sister is scheduled to visit her soon—they haven’t seen each other in nine years. While she waits, Akanksha bonds with Timothee, enjoys the spoils of white money, engages in judgy hijinks with her friend Sophia, and muses over why she stays away from her home country. (Akanksha Cruczynski, USA, 14MIN) WORLD PREMIERE
David Needs Help. So Does David. (Zach Woods, USA, 11MIN)
death. everything. nothing.
In death. everything. nothing. LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant leans into her newfound role as grieving daughter, and uses maternal loss to capture the heartache, uncertainty, and inevitability of death’s grip on human life. In so doing, she reveals the real but unsettling dynamics of confronting parental death when separated by distance, time, and a global pandemic. (LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant, USA, 6MIN)
Set in 2007, Alex is a 20-year-old double above the knee amputee and competitive swimmer. He also has a huge crush on Jen, the swim coach at the local pool who secretly likes him back. When Jen tries to ask Alex out, he falters and causes an awkward encounter. Humiliated, Alex asks his friends for advice, only for them to steal his phone and send her a raunchy text message. Mortified, Alex must get to her phone before she sees the message or risk losing her forever. (Adam Bowes, Nina Oyama, Australia, 9MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
DỌLÁPỌ̀ IS FINE
Soon to leave her British boarding school and enter the working world, a young Black woman faces pressure to change her name and natural hairstyle. (Ethosheia Hylton, UK, 20MIN)
A story of a little girl having nightmares and a monster eating only happy dreams. (Min-jeong JO, South Korea, 11MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
Carina is a real estate agent in Beirut. Finding it hard to reach out to clients, she spends her time in empty apartments that feed her sexually dissatisfied life. After a long day of waiting without clients showing up, Carina decides to rent intimacy for a night. (Remi Itani, Lebanon, UK, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
In an abandoned warehouse, a crowd is dancing as one on 145 BPM techno music. Among them is Dustin, a young transgender individual, and crew: Felix, Raya and Juan. As the night draws on, collective hysteria morphs into sweet melancholy, and euphoria into yearning for tenderness. (Naïla Guiguet, France, 20MIN)
What did the first lockdown look like from a window in the residential towers of East London in the spring of 2020? E14 shows serious shifts in the everyday coordinate system of a privileged urban population at an immediate level. While exploring the trauma, the film captures the mundane and ironic realities of living in a heavily developed, man-made environment, and questions whether a new virus is about to develop. (Peiman Zekavat, UK, 19MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
GIRLS SHOULDN’T WALK ALONE AT NIGHT (LES FILLES NE MARCHENT PAS SEULES LA NUIT)
After a late-night high school graduation party, Chantal and Delphine find themselves walking home alone in the dark. Lost in the forest, their long night walk is punctuated by carelessness and an irrepressible desire to exist. (Katerine Martineau, Canada, 17MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
HER DANCE (RIKUD HASSIDI)
After she had not been invited to her sister’s wedding, Aya, a trans woman, shows up by surprise on a Shabbat night at the Orthodox Jewish community, where her family lives. She enters through the window, interrupting the wedding feast and threatening to reveal family lies and secrets. (Bar Choen, Israel, 22MIN) INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
IN SUDDEN DARKNESS
A slice of life film set in the Bronx, New York—IN SUDDEN DARKNESS follows the life of the Moores, a working-class Black family trying to stay afloat in the midst of the city-wide blackout. Searching for solutions to cope, the family descends directly into the darkness and chaos. With the heat causing frustrations to run high, how do the Moores and their community come together in the face of the unknown? (Tayler Montague, USA, 13MIN)
A woman returns to a familiar harbor in a struggle to reclaim her lost memories. (Ryan De Franco, Matthew Mendelson, Italy, USA, 5MIN) WORLD PREMIERE
My mother’s dreams have always been strong premonitions for important moments in my life. I rely on her dreams more than any religion. (Kim Kang-min, Republic of Korea, 9MIN)
LEARNING TAGALOG WITH KAYLA
Mabuhay! Welcome to Learning Tagalog With Kayla. Kayla is pleased to teach you the basics of Tagalog, the language of her homeland. In this lesson, we’ll start with conversational phrases and common expressions. If time permits, we may even get into Kayla’s newfound hobby of baking, hatred of exercise, occasional disdain for her cats, and her affinity for Vivi, a black mage with a heart of gold from the popular role-playing game, Final Fantasy IX. (Kayla Abuda Galang, USA, 4MIN)
From her train window, Sarah watches a man standing on an empty and strange platform. She hopes to see his face to no avail. Then, watching again and again through her microscope, she dives into the purple cells shaking on her hematology strip. These cells bring her to this train, her inner world, where she can hear. Because Sarah is deaf. But Sarah is about to have surgery. For the first time, she will be able to hear what the real world sounds like. (Aline Magrez, Belgium, 25MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
LIKE THE ONES I USED TO KNOW (LES GRANDES CLAQUES)
December 24, 1983, 10:50 p.m.; Julie’s whole family is gathered once again this year for Christmas Eve. All except Denis, her father, newly excluded by his divorce. Julie, 8 years old, waits for Santa Claus to arrive to unwrap her presents, while Denis, parked in front of the house, waits until the agreed time to come and pick up his children. He’s ready to do anything to get his half of Christmas, but he still doesn’t know the emotional trenches that a return to his ex-in-law’s family will entail. Constrained by her parents’ clumsy planning, Julie must choose between the painful reality of her father’s life and the magic of the holiday. LIKE THE ONES I USED TO KNOW (LES GRANDES CLAQUES) is a dramatic comedy about a father-daughter relationship; an early coming-of-age that is as squeaky as it is poetic. (Annie St-Pierre, Canada, 18MIN)
LIVE IN CLOUD-CUCKOO LAND (MÂY NHƯNG KHÔNG MƯA)
A factotum in a wedding dress shop searches for the love of her life, and a road busker who loses his speaker looks for his lost voice. In their quest for love and the voice that has been lost, the characters appear abruptly between different dimensions. They travel through tragedy, reality, weirdness, and different spaces in the same city. (Vũ Minh Nghĩa, Phạm Hoàng Minh Thy, Vietnam, 20MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
After 8- year-old Juwon gets removed from Bible class by her Sunday school teacher, she follows an Agama Lizard into the bowels of the “Heaven’s Gate” Mega Church. Her journey into the labyrinth exposes the financial inner workings and the hidden activities behind the scenes. Plunging her deeper until she is confronted by a spellbinding sermon and a congregation worshipping in a hypnotised frenzy. Magical interactions with an alarmingly larger Lizard and a sturdy gateman serve as metaphors for the preceding incidents. As her family proceeds to leave the Church, they are intercepted by the dramatic confrontation with a gang of holy armed robbers. (Akinola Davies Jr., Nigeria, UK, 18MIN)
LONELY BLUE NIGHT
An awkward family reunion at a business/karaoke dinner leads a Chinese mother to realize the consequences of leaving her daughter in the care of an American homestay family. (Johnson Cheng, USA, 15MIN)
Brought by the waves of the sea, a fantastic being of gigantic size discovers a pleasant place of great natural beauty, and makes it his home, becoming the guardian and soul of the place. There, he meets a cheerful little boy with whom he creates a bond of friendship forged in sharing the pleasure that both feel in living in harmony with nature. But one day, peace is threatened by a polluting and noisy tide. (Joana Rosa Bragança, Portugal, 15MIN)
In the last weeks of being high school students, Cas and Naomi, both out of the closet, prefer to spend their days together. As “brother and sister” of other parents, they experience a security and love that they cannot find elsewhere. But when their future plans seem to drive them apart, their relationship will be put at risk and the affectionate Cas must dare to be alone. (Vincent Tilanus, The Netherlands, 19MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
Babz Dubreuil, a lonely but endearing ex-convict, works as a cook in a suburban brunch restaurant. Despite her civilized conduct, she struggles to regain her place in society. Under the encouragement of an outrageous colleague, she finds the courage to ask an attractive customer to go on a date with her. It might be the beginning of redemption. (Zoé Pelchat, Canada, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
MOUNTAIN CAT (Шилүүс)
A troubled teenage girl is coerced into seeing a local shaman in search of spiritual healing. Trapped by ancient beliefs that serve only to pacify her mother, she finds peace in the physical realm by unleashing her repressed, youthful spirit on the unsuspecting shaman when she realises his true identity. A coming-of-age tale set in contemporary Mongolia. (Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, Mongolia, UK, 13MIN)
MY FATHER THE MOVER
Alatha’s father calls himself a ‘Mover.’ Using African electronic Gqom beats he motivates kids in Khayelitsha, South Africa to jive through their hardship and find their superpowers. But while he’s transformed the lives of many kids in his community, his own daughter, Alatha, is still looking for freedom. In an intimate moment together, this is all about to change… (Julia Jansch, South Africa, 13MIN)
NAVOZANDE, LE MUSICIEN
At the time of the attack of the Mongols, a young musician and the love of his life are separated from each other. Fifty years later, the musician is summoned to perform at the castle of the Mongols where his beloved is being held. (Reza Riahi, France, 15MIN)
O BLACK HOLE!
A woman who can’t stand the passing of time turns herself into a black hole. A thousand unchanging years pass inside her warm and dark embrace until, finally, the Singularity awakens inside. An immovable woman meets an unstoppable girl in this epic 2D/3D space opera about the meaning of transience and letting go. (Renee Zhan, UK, 16MIN)
After losing his best friend, an elderly pug named Henry must depend on his owner for help and companionship. Writer/director Ann Marie Fleming (WINDOW HORSES) makes visible the tender work of caretaking in her new animated short, OLD DOG. All dogs (and people) should be so lucky and so loved. (Ann Marie Fleming, Canada, 3MIN)
ONLY A CHILD
ONLY A CHILD is a visual poem created by over 20 animation directors under the artistic supervision of Simone Giampaolo, which gives shape and colour to the original words spoken by Severn Suzuki at the UN Summit in Rio in 1992, a child’s desperate call to action for the future of our planet. An omnibus film celebrating the environmental youth movement 30 years in the making. (Simone Giampaolo, Switzerland, 6MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
A young girl has an earth-shattering realization that her father is not invincible, after a cricket accident exposes his vulnerability. (Anna Rose Duckworth, New Zealand, 9MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
A naïve American woman journeys to an artist farm commune in the south of France seeking solace from her loneliness. But without the ability to speak French, Eleanore struggles to connect with her new community. She is taken under the wing of Sophie, a choreographer and lead gardener at the chateau. Eleanore grows romantic feelings for Sophie, whose confidence and charisma are what Eleanore longs for. When those feelings aren’t reciprocated, Eleanore must face the ultimate purpose of her trip and come to terms with being alone. PLAISIR (French word for pleasure) is a tender comedy of errors and a queer story of unrequited love. Through Eleanore’s journey, we learn that wherever you go- there you are. (Molly Gillis, France, 19MIN)
PROOF OF LOSS
The devastating effects of climate change are beginning to impact every person on earth. From wildfires to hurricanes, rising temperatures to landslides, we are learning to adapt to a new normal, one where we must confront what we truly value and how we cope with loss. Through the lens of the recent fires in California, PROOF OF LOSS focuses on how one young woman and her father are forced to come together and examine the complexities of mourning and the connection between grief, relief, and survival. (Katherine Fisher, USA, 13MIN)
A young girl in her age of innocence discovers Rehak, a magical drawing hidden behind her bedroom wall. (Pierre B, UK, France, 7MIN)
RENAIDANCE is a 3D narrative emotional animation. The theme invigorates cultural inheritance and the integration of dreams, courage, and culture as transformation. By artistically interpreting a motif of inheritance and family support, integrating different cultures “inheritance” through the inspiring story, this film braces strong family love and elder culture in a never-ending chain. (Zhike Yang, Wenjie Wu, Han Chen Chang, China, Taiwan, USA, 4MIN)
ROBOROVSKI follows the eponymous thimble sized hamster who spends his days in Marvin’s Pet Shop, hoping to find a family. However, when he is constantly overlooked by the people and animals around him, his seething resentment and intense jealousy soon take hold, and a murderous side of little Roborovski is released. (Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Dev Patel, Australia, 15MIN) INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
A family weekend in the family house. The men of the family are self-satisfied and the women are efficient. There’s no reason for changing the order of things. Yet, one of the uncles of the family has a new wife who might stir up trouble. (Sophie Beaulieu, France, 15MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Filmed on a bullet train from Nagoya to Kyoto in Japan while Stubbs was on a school trip, the time lapsed poetry and video work present a look into the thoughts of a young woman on the brink of adulthood. The work was created by the artist while she was mourning the death of her grandmother, confronting her own morality and the speed at which she approaches her future. The viewer is made to long for the comfort and familiarity of youth, while acknowledging the inevitability of growth and moving forward despite fear of the unknown. (Siena Stubbs, Australia, 3MIN)
Nine-year-old Bahar recently lost her ability to hear. Due to lack of resources in the village, she is omitted from school. This feeling of alienation is the beginning of a series of desperate acts culminating in an attempt to cure herself. (Brwa Vahabpour, Norway, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
Anna and Daniel are members of a successful band, Silvertone, making the follow-up to their hit debut record. They (with a little help from their label) set up at a house in the Hills to try and write the perfect song. But the pressure of a sophomore album and their own complicated history cast a big shadow. Soon, Anna and Daniel’s competing creative processes lead to a disconnect that threatens their relationship and art. (Kerris Dorsey, USA, 10MIN) WORLD PREMIERE
SINKING SHIP (LE NAUFRAGE)
While out for drinks, a couple finds themselves in an intellectual discussion of how they feel about each other. Their clinical honesty is contrasted by the restaurant’s massive mural of open waters behind them that begins to sway and build to crashing waves that start to reflect their emotional reality. (Sasha Leigh Henry, Canada, 13MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
SOFA SO GOOD
Once Abeer, a young woman living in NYC, realizes that her new roommate won’t provide a sofa to their empty living room, she becomes obsessed. Abeer embarks on a journey between NYC’s quirkiest characters and would do anything for the desired piece of furniture. SOFA SO GOOD stars NYC finest comedians (Nataly Aukar, Tom Thakkar), alongside Hiam Abbass (Succession), and is a funny-touching story about holding on and letting go. (Noa Osheroff, USA, 12MIN)
A New York artist’s obsession makes her the leader of a squirrel war on Facebook. The pressure cooker of quarantine mixed with the polarization of politics intensifies the ire of squirrel lovers everywhere. (Jill Morley, USA, 9MIN) WORLD PREMIERE
STRONG SON is a short dramatic film about a father who tells the story of his relationship with his bodybuilding son. Set entirely in a gym, the film begins with a father as he watches his son perform a variety of bodybuilding exercises. As the father watches, he narrates his relationship with his son, and critiques aspects of his life, such as his body, his marital status, and his obsession with working out. The father is also seen helping the son workout. The film ends with both father and son leaving the gym together, as the father explains that he is old, weak, and alone, and his son has to be, and stay strong in order to take care of him. (Ian Bawa, Canada, 4MIN) INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
SUMMER SHADE (צל בקיץ)
Exploring true events of discrimination against women in Israel, SUMMER SHADE offers a slice-of-life insight into an Israeli hot summer day. Gal, a 13-year-old adventurous girl wanders alone towards her favorite relaxing summer spot, the magical refreshing pond nearby her house. Shortly after her arrival, a group of ultra-orthodox Hassidic teenagers violently try to kick her out, threatened by her femininity. (Shira Haimovici, UK, Israel, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
“I could have been there with her…”
Two sisters entwined by love. When Annie disappears, her younger sister, Natalie, seeks her out in an unconventional way: as a thanadoula, accompanying the dying in their final stages. Between their slow and final breaths, Natalie finds a bridge between life and death and ultimately, a pathway to her sister. (Robin McKenna, Canada, 6MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
THE END OF SUFFERING (A PROPOSAL)
Sofia is panicky, again. The Universe decides to contact her. An otherworldly dialogue. A planet symphony for Mars, where people dream awake and fight for love. (Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece, 15MIN)
Based on the ancient animistic beliefs and shamanic rituals in Mongolia and Siberia, the film explores the indigenous worldview and wisdom: Nature is the homeland of human being, Tengri is the deity and the father sky, Earth is the mother with rivers nourishing all beings, pagan and pantheist gods co-exist with all mortals. Against the backdrop of the modern existential crisis and the human-induced rapid environmental change, there is a necessity to reclaim the ideas of animism for planetary health and non-human materialities. (Alisi Telengut, Canada, 8MIN)
THE GREAT MALAISE (LE MAL DU SIÈCLE)
In the voiceover for this animated short, a young woman attempts to describe herself, casting her life in the ideal light that society expects. The film’s imagery, however, tells a different story, poignantly illustrating the intense anxiety that comes with the quest for perfection and the pursuit of happiness. A film that’s both funny and moving, and above all, profoundly human. (Catherine Lepage, Canada, 5MIN)
THE HEART STILL HUMS
A documentary short, following five women as they fight for their children through the cycle of homelessness, drug addictions and neglect from their own parents. Unique, yet undoubtedly familiar to many; a story on fear, sacrifice and the unconditional love between a mother and her children. (Savanah Leaf, Taylor Russell, USA, 28MIN)
THE LAST FERRY FROM GRASS ISLAND (島嶼故事)
A retired Hong Kong hitman, A Hoi, and his senile Mother live a mundane life on the rustic Grass Island near the Hong Kong/China border. One day, A Hoi’s Chinese apprentice, Xiaoma, arrives in disguise, tasked to kill A Hoi for his unresolved feud with her triad boss. Rather than engaging in violence with his apprentice, A Hoi invites her to have dinner with him and Mother. (Linhan Zhang, USA, Hong Kong, 13MIN)
THE NAME OF THE SON (EL NOMBRE DEL HIJO)
Lucho, a 13-year-old trans boy, doesn’t usually share much time with his father Daniel. When he goes on holiday with him and his younger sister to the beach, to a house in which they haven’t been for some time, the memories this environment brings, and the new closeness between them, put their already tense relationship to the test. This is a portrait of the challenge of dealing with fears while trying to rebuild a bond with love. (Martina Matzkin, Argentina, 13MIN)
THE NIGHT TRAIN (NATTÅGET)
Oskar is on the night train, heading home after an interview in Stockholm. With a long night ahead of him, he makes eye contact with Ahmad. For the first time he meets the gaze of someone who feels the same desire as he does. (Jerry Carlsson, Sweden, 15MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
THE PRICE OF CHEAP RENT
A NYC transplant and aspiring artist speaks to a documentary crew about her struggles finding an affordable home in her dream city, while being true to herself as an artist. Now that she’s finally found what seemed like the perfect studio apartment, she’s dealing with the supernatural price of cheap rent. Blending the styles of documentary filmmaking and internet profile pieces, this mini mockumentary pokes fun at aspirational living, using humor to reflect on the economic and ethical challenges for Black millennials in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. (Amina Sutton, Maya Tanaka, USA, 7MIN)
A couple, struggling with their relationship, finds their frustrations manifesting in a defective recorder. In an attempt to restore peace in their relationship and replace the faulty recorder, they encounter a woman offering to sell them a new recorder, but the transaction proves more challenging than expected. (Justine Lupe, USA, 10MIN) WORLD PREMIERE
THE TOMTEN AND THE FOX (REVEN OG NISSEN)
A hungry fox hunts for food on a cold winter night. On the edge of the forest he discovers a small farm. He sneaks closer to steal some food, unaware of the Tomten who guards the farm, and is caught red-handed in the hen-coop. When the Tomten sees how hungry the fox is, he decides to share his Christmas porridge with him, as long as the fox promises to leave the animals alone. (Yaprak Morali, Are Austnes, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, 9MIN)
THEREFORE, SOCRATES IS MORTAL
Facing the climate crisis, Louise, a philosophy teacher, turns words into action. (Alexandre Isabelle, Canada, 13MIN) WORLD PREMIERE
TOBI AND THE TURBOBUS (TOBI UND DER TURBOBUS)
You fly with no seat! That’s the rule in the Turbobus. To get one is a hard day job for a young wolf on his turbo-journey to find real friendship. (Verena Fels, Germany, 8MIN)
A brother and sister walk along, each carrying a tree in a small pot. When they come across a parrot and a fallen statue, they each have to choose their own journey. (Emmanuel Ollivier, France, 4MIN) U.S. PREMIERE
In Brazil, where a trans person is murdered every three days, Marilene searches for her daughter Roberta, a trans woman who went missing. While running out of time, she discovers a hope for the future. (Matheus Farias, Enock Carvalho, Brazil, 20MIN)
WE HAVE ONE HEART
After his mother dies, Adam comes across some letters exchanged years ago between his Polish mother and his father, a Kurd living in Iraq. This is an opportunity for him to find out more about his father, whom he never knew. The juxtaposition of animated drawings and archival material takes us back forty years into the past and enables us not only to feel the emotions linking the lovers living in different parts of the world, but also to uncover an extraordinary family secret. (Katarzyna Warzecha, Poland, 11MIN)
In 2017, Lee Kim found herself on the subway wearing a small hat she made from pipe cleaners, an oddity that could easily pass unnoticed in New York. Instead, Lee was overwhelmed and quite uncomfortable with the number of strangers who commented on it. Rather than put that day behind her, she decided to lean into the uncomfortable and create a new pipe cleaner hat each day, inviting this engagement. More than 1,000 days later and in the midst of the pandemic, Lee’s experiment in human connection continues to evolve. (Emily McAllister, USA, 12MIN)
Every night at 6pm, detained immigrants are legally released from a for-profit ICE facility onto unfriendly, industrial streets near Denver, Colorado. The men and women, most of them asylum-seekers, have little idea where they are and have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. WELCOME STRANGERS tells the story of Sarah Jackson, a young woman who searches the streets for these immigrants and invites them into her home. She and a team of volunteers greet them with compassion and provide them with shelter, clothing and help them reunite with their families. (Dia Sokol Savage, USA, 21MIN)
Amidst a racially tense wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black father after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform. (Melody C. Roscher, USA, 10MIN)
Sara is in bed with her lover when she gets a phone call from her husband, Josh. He is on a business trip in Wichita, and needs a business card from his sock drawer. But Sara is not at their house, so she only has a few minutes to race home before he catches on. To stall for time, she asks a million questions about Wichita, Kansas. “What’s Cowtown like? Did you see Kirstie Alley’s house? And Pizza Hut? Didn’t that start there too?” (Sergine Dumais, USA, 6MIN)
WIRUN is a beautiful short about a Noongar high school student who affirms her ancestral knowledge while navigating growing up in anglo-Australia. As Erin dedicates herself to learning Shakespeare’s sonnet 127 she struggles to remember the lines and make sense of the antique language. She feels ostracised by her peers for her cultural differences despite her commitment to learning her part. After struggling with memorization into the night Erin reaches a significant turning point. At school the next day she blows her class away with her performance. (Chad O’Brien, Australia, 9MIN)
A lonely old man pays a visit to Yoruga, one of the last animals on Earth. (Federico Torrado Tobón, USA, Colombia, 6MIN)
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The 30th Aspen Shortsfest is made possible by the generous support of The Aspen Times, Alpine Bank, Aspen Public Radio, Aspen Art Museum, Eventive, Filmocracy, Hotel Jerome, The Red Brick Center for the Arts and the Wheeler Opera House. Aspen Shortsfest is also charitably underwritten by grants from AspenOUT, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media, Melinda Goldrich, National Endowment for the Arts, Les Dames d’Aspen, and the Wheeler Opera House (City of Aspen) Arts Grant Program.
ABOUT ASPEN FILM:
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 FilmEducates. 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. To learn more, visit aspenfilm.org.
Founded by independent film insiders in 2015, Eventive has emerged as the leading platform for virtual cinema screenings for distributors, filmmakers, film festivals and art houses around the world. Platform offerings include advanced antipiracy and DRM measures, user-friendly ticketing, live event integration, marketing features, and membership support. Learn more at eventive.org.
Filmocracy is a film and festival streaming platform that rewards users for discovering amazing independent films. Bringing a powerful combination of technologies together to enhance the virtual cinema and conference experience for filmmakers, industry professionals and audiences around the world, Filmocracy’s mission is to help all independent filmmakers reach wider audiences and grow their communities through storytelling.
ABOUT THE DOLBY INSTITUTE:
The Dolby Institute was created to educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of content creators. Through events, instruction, and awareness, we help creatives think critically and creatively about sound and image, unlocking the power of technology to help tell their stories.
ABOUT RED DIGITAL CINEMA
RED Digital Cinema is a leading manufacturer of professional digital cameras and accessories. Bringing bleeding-edge technology to filmmakers at all levels of content creation with a wide range of cinema-grade products. Find additional information at www.RED.com.
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