By Tess Strokes | April 5, 2018 | Culture
Aspen Film's crown jewel festival screens shorts at the Wheeler through Sunday.
Aspen Film’s Shortsfest, referred to as “the crown jewel” of Aspen Film’s trifecta of festivals, kicked off on Tuesday night, with an opening reception at the Wheeler Bar before Program 1. Aspen Film members, filmmakers, ticket holders, Aspen Film executive director Susan Wrubel and the festival's new director of programming, Landon Zakheim, mingled prior to the start of the 27th annual Shortsfest, which included the well-received 'Sam Did It' (also screening in Carbondale on Saturday, April 7 at 5:15 p.m.), a 10-minute short directed by Dominic Burgress about a mortician whose celebrity idol, Alfred Molina (played by himself), arrives on Sam’s mortuary slab and films that took the audience from an Ohio high school gym to the streets of Lebanon to rural Nigeria.
In fact, this year’s program showcases 77 Oscar-qualifying films from close to 30 countries and a wide selection of film across various disciplines from animation and documentaries to comedies and dramas, all under 40 minutes. The 11 programs in Aspen and four at the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale include nine North American premieres and four world premieres that offer audiences a chance to spot emerging talents. Many well-known directors showcased early works at Shortsfest, including Damien Chazelle ("La La Land"), Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), Jean-Marc Vallée ("Dallas Buyers Club") and Sarah Polley ("Stories We Tell").
Tonight, 'Solar Walk' makes its North American debut at the Wheeler Opera House during Program 4, starting at 5:15 p.m. An animated film by Hungarian director Réka Bucsi shows the journey of individuals and their creations on through time and space as they accepting cosmic chaos. On Friday at the Wheeler as part of Program 7, 'Intercourse' from Sweden explores a darkly humorous conversation under the sheets that provokes thoughts on sex and power. Saturday’s 5:15 program includes 'Fauve' (also showing in Carbondale on Sunday, April 8 at 5:15 p.m.) an intense Canadian drama that follows two boys in a surface mine. The following program at 8 p.m. begins with 'The Driver is Red' (screening in Carbondale on Sunday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m.), a true crime documentary following secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he hunts down a Nazi war criminals. On Sunday, brunch and a family program of kid-friendly shorts takes over the Wheeler with just over an hour of film, including the world premiere of "Loser Leaves Town," the story of an 11-year-old luchador wrestler.
Shortsfest also offers opportunities to meet guest filmmakers and industry experts at program Q&As and panel discussions (free for Aspen Film Members; $20 for public) hosted at Mountain Chalet Friday and Saturday. ‘Apres Screening’ events run at bars in Aspen nightly at 10 p.m. Full program online at aspenfilm.org.
Tickets: $20 ($15 for Aspen Film members). Wheeler Opera House box office; www.aspenshowtix.com
Photography by Seth Beckton