ASPEN FILM ANNOUNCES 2021 SHORTSFEST AWARD-WINNING FILMS
April 20, 2021
Aspen, CO (April 19, 2020) In a virtual awards presentation held on Saturday, April 17 via the Eventive platform, Aspen Film, the year-round film arts and education organization, announced the winning films from the 30th Aspen Shortsfest which was held April 6-11, 2021. One of only four Oscar®-qualifying festivals in the US strictly dedicated to short films, Aspen Shortsfest is recognized as one of the world’s premier short film festivals.
Almost 3,000 were submitted in consideration for the 2021 edition of Shortsfest, which presented 80 films in selection.
Aspen Film’s Shortsfest 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 became qualified for the 2022 Academy Awards. This year’s jury included 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.
There are also awards presented by a Youth Jury, comprised of students primarily from the Aspen-area but this year included students from Austin and New York, as well as the Ellen Jury who present an award in honor of Aspen Films founder and longtime executive director, Ellen Kohner Hunt, who passed away in January 2021, and the Audience Award, voted on by Shortsfest viewers.
Winner: Jury AWARD FOR ANIMATION – O BLACK HOLE (Renee Zhan, UK)
“This film is a feast for the eyes, zany and at times very strange in the best possible way! The director expertly uses a variety of animation techniques to explore the story of a woman who turns herself into a black hole, devouring everything in her path to escape loneliness but ultimately learns the powerful lesson of letting go.”
Winner: JURY AWARD FOR COMEDY – AFFAIRS OF THE ART
(Joanna Quinn, UK/Canada)
“Drawings, the artful nude portrait, obsession and a sister with a penchant for taxidermy make Affairs of the Art a saucy visual romp brimming with laughs.”
Winner: JURY AWARD FOR DOCUMENTARY+ THE ELLEN AWARD (named for Aspen Film founder, Ellen Kohner Hunt) – WE HAVE ONE HEART
(Katarzyna Warzecha, Poland)
“Combining an ingenious narrative voice and a canny mixture of animation, dramatized letters, found and observational footage, this film inventively draws the audience into a true story of love and loss. The director employs a sure hand and a light touch to conjure a moving examination of tenderness and emotional bonds in times of both war and peace.”
ELLEN Jury Statement:
“Ellen Kohner Hunt valued originality, and she valued high artistic merit. Polish director Katarzyna Warzecha has achieved both by mixing animation with found footage to create a highly original family odyssey in a film with humor, love, and a lot of heart.”
Winner: JURY AWARD FOR DRAMA – MARLON BRANDO
(Vincent Tilanus, The Netherlands)
“With a style as natural as the performances captured, Marlon Brando stands out among coming-of-age films. The satisfying and emotional narrative about friendship shows that depth doesn’t have to be sacrificed in this category.”
The jury also gives a special mention for Drama to BETWEEN YOU AND MILAGROS
(Mariana Saffon, Colombia/US):
“Featuring beautifully modulated performances, this sensitively observed coming-of-age narrative explores intertwining forces of politics, religion, class, and burgeoning sexuality as they play out over the course of a summer day in the world of a privileged teen. The film skillfully embeds its pointed social commentary within an archetypal story of family dynamics.”
Winner: JURY AWARD FOR SHORT SHORT – THE FOURFOLD
(Alisi Telengut, Canada)
Painting is combined with plants and other natural objects to evoke the energy, rhythms, and often fragile beauty of the earth. In its economic running time, this small gem of handcrafted animation both honors Indigenous Mongolian beliefs and rituals and offers a pointed message of environmental concern.
The jury also gives a special mention for Short Short to OLD DOG (Ann Marie Fleming, Canada)
Beautifully illustrating the emotional bond between a man and his dog as they age, Old Dog reminds us how important it is to have a best friend.
Winner: AUDIENCE AWARD – CLOSE TIES TO HOME COUNTRY
(Akanksha Cruczynski, USA)
Winner: JURY AWARD FOR STUDENT SHORT + YOUTH JURY AWARD – PLAISIR (Molly Gillis, France)
“This film immediately captured our attention with its captivating performances and evocative images. With a subtle and playful hand of the director we are immersed in the natural splendor of southern France and our hearts are warmed by a woman’s search for healing and connection. It’s our pleasure to award the best student short to Plaisir.”
Youth Jury Statement:
“The Youth Jury finds this film necessary to watch for audience members in our generation due to the relevant themes of finding one’s self physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As young adults, this is a pivotal time when we are faced with uncomfortable growth which leads us to find and accept our true selves, rather than the version of us shaped by others. This was shown throughout the film with talented acting set in the beautiful backdrop of France complemented by intricate sound design, and the thoughtful use of natural light to ground the production. The juxtaposition between awkward moments, lighthearted comedy and authenticity resonated with our jury and we believe it will leave an impact amongst our peers. This film should be shown to young adults because it provokes self-reflection and forces you to think about challenging yourself through uncharted territory. We learn the most in unexpected situations as it is expressed in Plaisir.”
Aspen Film’s 2021 programming will continue with Summer of Cinema offerings and thje 42nd Filmfest which will run September 21-26 at the Wheeler Opera House. Shortfest 2022 submissions will open mid-July. For updated information, please visit aspenfilm.org.
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.