Colorado represented in 33rd annual Aspen Shortsfest

March 27, 2024

Colorado represented in 33rd annual Aspen Shortsfest

When filmmaker Cheryl Hess made her annual pilgrimage to visit a friend in the Roaring Fork Valley and get her ski fix, she had no plans of making a three-minute film. But a chance encounter with a local snow enthusiast and possession of five minutes of film stock changed that.

“My friend in Aspen met Dash on a lift during COVID and started a friendship,” Hess said. “She knows I don’t like to ski by myself and she couldn’t go out with me so she called him to so I’d have someone to go with. I had this roll of expired film and my camera and when I went up with Dash I asked if I could film him, not thinking I’d get much out of it. So that’s how it happened. It was the first film that I’ve made without planning to make a film.”

Her short film “Dash, Age 92, Snowboarder” is one of three films that showcase a story or filmmaker from Colorado during Aspen Film’s upcoming Aspen Shortsfest Festival being held April 1-7 at Aspen Film Isis Theatre and Wheeler Opera House .

“Just seeing him go through life and being able to do what he does, you know, and you know, it’s not every day that you see someone at 92 snowboarding,” Hess said. “So it was also just his, the way he talked about life, that was inspiring to me.”

Director Cheryl Hess.
Courtesy photo
Films like Hess’ “Dash” show the ability of short films to tell a great story and pack a visually appealing punch in a compact package and a great way to showcase new and emerging talent.

“It’s such a privilege to see so much amazing new work by emerging talents and we were wowed by the incredible diversity of voices, perspectives, and styles we discovered,” said Jason Anderson, Shortsfest director of programming, in a prepared statement. “Having received over 3,100 submissions — the most ever for Shortsfest — we couldn’t help but feel like filmmakers are expressing a renewed urgency to share their stories as we all emerge from the pandemic. Whether they’re pouring that energy into powerful dramas, sharply written comedies, timely documentaries, or astonishing animations, they share the same drive to connect with viewers. Our team is thrilled to get to showcase some of the most remarkable, innovative, compelling, hilarious, and moving films we’ll see this year.”

Celebrating over three decades of presenting shorts, Shortsfest is one of only four Oscar®-qualifying festivals in the United States strictly dedicated to short films in the fields of animation, documentary, and live-action narrative. Featuring new works from over 24 countries, with 10 programs, 70 short films, and 16 world premieres, each of the ten programs contains a variety of shorts, from comedies to dramas and documentaries to animation.

“We can’t wait for audiences to experience the stellar curation of our 2024 Shortsfest programming, along with the energy created by the filmmakers joining us from around the world. Sixteen of our films are world premieres, and we’re quite proud that 58% of our 70 titles are either directed or co-directed by women,” remarks Aspen Film Executive and Artistic Director Susan Wrubel in a press release. “Shortsfest is also the festival where we offer our most robust FilmEducates program — filmmakers and industry guests share stories, insight, and lessons with students in the classroom and on the stage.”

“The Dream Machine” subject Timothy Cleary.
Courtesy photo
An important part of Shortsfest’s programming is showcasing the work of Colorado filmmakers and stories. In addition to Cheryl Hess’ “Dash,” is “The Dream Machine a documentary by Denver-bred musician, photographer, and filmmaker Andrew J. Segreti. Segreti’s film was shot in Brooklyn and showcases composer Timothy Cleary who crafted a one-of-a-kind electronic musical device to feed his artistic drive.

Segreti said that part of what drew him to his subject was his deep ties to music. As a young man, he played drums touring with bands in and around Denver and thought that was the direction life would take him. It was when he was studying at Metropolitan University of Denver that he fell in love with darkroom and photography. Cinema and directing were things he knew he wanted to try one day.

Director and Colorado native, Andrew Segreti.
Aaron Krik /Courtesy photo
And though he’s lived in New York City since 2009 and built a successful career as a photographer, he said he looks forward to returning to Colorado when he can to visit family and reconnect with his roots. He is looking forward to coming to Aspen to see his film on the big screen in his home state.

“I miss (Colorado),” Segreti said. “Anytime I get back to Denver, it’s just like such a relief to be there. It’s just, like, literally the opposite of New York.”

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