2023 SHORTSFEST Award Winners

April 19, 2023

2023 SHORTSFEST Award Winners


ASPEN, Colo. (April 17, 2023) In an awards presentation held on Sunday, April 16, Aspen Film, the year-round film arts, and education organization, announced the winning films from its 32nd Aspen Shortsfest April 10-16, 2023. 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. Featuring new works from over 33 countries, with 11 programs, 79 short films, and 74 premieres, each of the 11 programs contained a variety of shorts, from comedies to dramas and documentaries to animation.

Aspen Film’s Shortsfest Competition Jury awarded films in six categories – Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Short Short (films 10 minutes in length or under), and Student Short. Winning films in all but the Student Short category become qualified for the 2024 Academy Awards®. Awards were also presented by: our Youth Jury, comprised of students primarily from the Aspen area, as well as from Los Angeles and New York; our Ellen Jury, which presented an award in honor of Aspen Film’s founder and longtime executive director, Ellen Kohner Hunt, who passed away in January 2021. An Audience Award, voted on by Shortsfest viewers, was also presented at the ceremony.


Shortsfest award winners will receive cash prizes of $1250 or $2500, in the following categories:

KLETTE directed by Michael Abay (Belgium) – Winner

JURY STATEMENT: “Comedy is one of the hardest genres, and when it’s heartfelt the challenge is even greater. This short is Insightful, well-observed, laugh-out-loud funny, and ultimately a deeply touching story about having the courage to trust that everything will be okay.”

Special Mention: THE DALLES directed by Angalis Field (US)

Special Mention for Performance: Actor Jennifer Heylen of KLETTE

THE VACATION directed by Jarreau Carrillo (US)Winner

JURY STATEMENT: “This film offers the perfect encapsulation of a universally relatable moment: when one is tired and ready for a break with their favorite people.  Brimming with well-drawn characters and well-timed comedic beats, this short left us wanting more from the four friends with well-aired soles.”

Special Mention: GOLD AND MUD directed by Conor Dooley (US)

Special Mention: TEACUPS directed by Alec Green, Finbar Watson (Australia, Ireland)

THE DEBUTANTE directed by Elizabeth Hobbs (UK)Winner

JURY STATEMENT: “This short embodies the highly charged political commentary and witty satire of its source material in its frenetic form, managing to be both uncomfortable and funny as it is incisive.”

Special Mention: SHADOW OF THE BUTTERFLIES directed by Sofia El Khyari (France, Portugal, Qatar)

Special Mention: LUCE AND THE ROCK directed by Britt Raes (Belgium, France, Netherlands)

PUFFLING directed by Jessica Bishopp (UK, Iceland) – Winner

JURY STATEMENT: “From its opening shot, this documentary declares an exciting directorial vision. As it unfolds, its quiet observational pace expands to draw moving parallels between its human and animal  subjects, both on the precipice of embarking on new journeys.”

Special Mention: BACKFLIP directed by Nikita Diakur (Germany, France)

Special Mention: BALL PEOPLE directed by Scott Lazer (US)

TROY directed by Mike Donahue (US) – Winner

JURY STATEMENT: “Absolutely surprising, and emotionally engaging, this short film tracks an annoyance-turned obsession-turned embrace with consistently fresh comedic directing, acting, and editing.”

Special Mention: THRIVING: A DISSOCIATED REVERIE directed by Nicole Bazuin (Canada)

Special Mention: GALAPAGOS directed by Kyle Sims (US)

ALL INCLUSIVE directed by Duván Duque Vargas (Colombia, France) – Winner

JURY STATEMENT: “This short touches the emotional flame many times with its beautiful and tight direction, its economical dialogue, and its flawless acting. We can’t wait to see a feature-length version of this.”

Special Mention: MULIKA directed by Maisha Maene (Democratic Republic of Congo)

THE DEBUTANTE directed by Elizabeth Hobbes (UK) Winner

ELLEN JURY STATEMENT: “With a masterful, fluid use of ink, paint, collage and witty narration, this bold and humorous animated story unspools an act of rebellion, brilliantly challenging a class-based tradition. From a 1930s story by surrealist artist Lenora Carrington, a spirited woman persuades a hyena from the London Zoo to take her place at a party in her honor. The results are fun and startling.  This year’s Ellen Award goes to director Elizabeth Hobbs for her animation short THE DEBUTANTE.”

ECHO directed by Benjamin Wolin, Michael Minahan, (US) –  Winner

Runner Up: HOW WE GET FREE directed by Geeta Gandbhir, Samantha Knowles (US)

IN THE GARDEN OF TULIPS directed by Julia Elihu (US)Winner

YOUTH JURY STATEMENT: “Over the past week, we have watched 60 films, telling unique stories from countless perspectives. These films shed light on important global issues including generational trauma, family, bravery, curiosity, and independence. Through watching these films, we were able to see a variety of film techniques and styles from stories that had us rolling with laughter, to leaving us in deep thought and utter awe.  In light of persecution on gender, religion, and overall personal freedoms, we felt this film illuminated the courage and determination that is integral on a global scale. We were enthralled with their strong use of cinematography, the engaging development of their story, the beautiful color palette, and the high stakes which kept us at the edge of our seats.”

Special Mention: THINGS UNHEARD OF, directed by Ramazan Kiliç (Turkey) 

In addition, Aspen Film’s Independent By Nature :32 second Video Challenge winner is Faryl Amadeus, who submitted a video via social media. 

This year’s Shortsfest jurors included filmmaker, and author Justine Bateman, who has an impressive, decades-long resume in film and TV that includes a Golden Globe nomination and two Emmy® nominations. Opal Hope Bennett, an Emmy®-winning co-producer and shorts producer at POV, and Kiva Reardon, Vice President, Film at PASTEL, the filmmaking collective founded by Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, and Mark Ceryak. 

Shortsfest award-winning films and special mention films will be screened between two programs on Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, at the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale, at 7 PM and 5 PM respectively. The full Family Program will screen at 4 PM Sunday, April 30. Info and ticketing links below:

Friday Program: https://aspenfilm.org/event/shortsfest-2023-award-winners-program-1/ 

Saturday Program: https://aspenfilm.org/event/shortsfest-2023-award-winners-program-2/ 

Family Program: https://aspenfilm.org/event/shortsfest-2023-family-program/

Aspen Film’s 2023 programming will continue with a screening of the documentary JUDY BLUME FOREVER, on April 19, 7:30 PM at the Aspen Film Isis Theatre. The film launches on Amazon Prime on April 21. 

Favorite classic films will screen at the Aspen Film Isis Theatre this spring, summer, and fall, with favorites like The Big Lebowski (25th anniversary), Grease (45th), Hairspray (35th), Vacation (40th), Enter The Dragon (50th), Rain Man (35th), The Birds (60th), and Scarface (50th). Stay tuned for showings of these, and other classic foreign language films at www.aspenfilm.org. Summer offerings include monthly indie showcase film screenings, the annual mid-summer film event partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation, and Aspen Film looks forward to its third annual collaboration with Intersect Aspen which runs August 1- 4. 

September 19-24 Aspen Filmfest runs at The Wheeler Opera House and Aspen Film Isis Theatre. 

The 32nd Aspen Shortsfest is made possible by the generous support of W Aspen, Jet Aviation, The Gant, Annabelle Inn, Roots RX, and the Dolby Institute, Aspen Shortsfest is also charitably underwritten by grants from Wheeler Opera House (City of Aspen) Arts Grant Program, National Endowment for the Arts, The Addy Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries, Aspen OUT, Aspen Thrift Shop, and the Rotary Club of Aspen.


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 every season, along with an extensive education program: Aspen Filmfest (September 19-24, 2023), 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 our understanding of our world and selves through the diverse spectrum of ideas presented by filmmakers worldwide. To learn more, visit aspenfilm.org


Aspen Film and the Isis Theatre are a perfect pair to unite the community, create connections, and foster creativity. The Aspen Film Isis Theatre Capital Campaign is in full swing, be on the lookout for some special events for members and supporters. With the community’s crucial support, Aspen Film will not only finalize ownership of the Isis Theatre but will also convert the existing commercial movie theater, to a theater plus arts education center.

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Aspen Film strives to make all experiences as accessible and inclusive as possible for all participants. We are committed to utilizing wheelchair-accessible venues; providing open captioning for all screenings; offering assistive listening devices, whenever possible; offering sign language interpretation for any event, when possible and upon request.

Press Contact:
Katherine Roberts
415-786-8166 • katherine@caringtoncreative.com

Lea Tucker
303-641-4370 • lea@lucyleatucker.net

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