International Program Set for 13th Aspen Shortsfest
by Rania Richardson
The 13th-annual Aspen Shortsfest is set to run tonight through April 4, with an international program of 58 competitive entries from 21 countries, including films from India, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, Russia, and Greece. Set to premiere at the self-described "international incubator for filmmaking talent" are new comedy, drama, documentary and animated works.
Topics for the diverse set of shorts to be screened include an American Sikh family stranded on their way to the Grand Canyon ("American Made"), an animated look at sweet peas ("Success with Sweetpeas (STET)"), and two business executives fiercely negotiating the terms of a deal ("The M Word").
Also to screen is Andrew Jarecki's "Just a Clown," the story of children's birthday party clowns that was the genesis of his feature "Capturing the Friedmans."
In the festival's juried international competition, filmmakers will compete for over $20,000 in cash and prizes. This year's jury includes the Associate Director of Sundance Film Festival, John Cooper; director Vicky Jenson ("Shrek"); and documentary filmmaker Aviva Slesin ("Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers During WWII").
An historical program will launch the festival, with a presentation titled, "UPA: The Studio that Jived in the 50s," including rarely seen UPA Archival works by Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss, John Hubley and others.
A director spotlight presentation will honor the work of Australian filmmaker, Adam Elliot, 2004 Academy Award winner for "Harvie Krumpet," An animation narrated by Geoffrey Rush. Elliot's "Uncle," "Cousin," and "Brother," were Shortsfest award winners in previous years.
This year's annual panel discussion will focus on insights and perspectives on the art of screenwriting. Actor/director Peter Riegert ("Traffic") will moderate the filmmaker panel, which will include Christopher Hampton ("The Quiet American"), Paul Mazursky ("Down and Out in Beverly Hills"), Frank Pierson ("Dog Day Afternoon"), Jim Taylor ("About Schmidt"), and Audrey Wells ("Under the Tuscan Sun").
Informal presentations by industry professionals include topics such as economical ways to shoot on film for quality results and emerging distribution channels, including television, video on demand, broadband/internet, and wireless/mobile.
[ For more information, please visit: http://www.aspenfilm.org. ]