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Aspen Shortsfest - An Embarrassment of Riches


As the 17th-century philosopher Francis Bacon argued, "Rather to excite your judgment briefly than to inform it tediously." Aspen Film would appear to agree. Its acclaimed Aspen Shortfest showcases films two and 27 minutes in length.
The 19th round takes place April 6 to 11, 2010 at Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado, and at the Crystal Theatre in nearby Carbondale.
This year Aspen Film cherrypicked 85 competition contenders out of the 2,500 submissions that poured in from some 80 countries. Taken together with its non-competing titles, the Fest is screening about 100 short films from around the world.
Not only is the work exceptionally diverse, according to Aspen Film program director George Eldred, but it's more interesting, of higher quality and more skillfully produced than that of previous troves, he noted in a statement. "Creators worldwide benefit from unprecedented access to new technology and equipment," he added.
Take for example Home Is Where You Find It. The 27-minute documentary by 16-year-old Mozambican Alcides Soares recounts being orphaned by AIDS, and constituting a new family of loved ones. Produced by a group of professional mediamakers including Dick Wolf and Peter Jankowski, the film has swept numerous awards.
Another exemplar of this year's evolved concepts and executions is the British drama, Man and Boy. In their 20-minute put, directors Marcus McSweeny and David Leon explore paternal instincts gone amok in working-class London. Storylines jump up and back, here and there, suggesting several scenarios and letting the viewer decide what actually happened.
No less thought provoking is The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger, by U.S. animator and cartoonist Bill Plympton. His self-described "fairy tale gone bad" takes its palette from Vasily Kandinsky and character cue from Ferdinand the Bull. Look to the four-minute piece for answers about life and advertising. 
Kid-friendly shorts are in ample supply at Shortfest, thanks to "Films for Families," a docket of shorts for tweeners and up. Fest highlights also include "Micro Moviemaking," with director Lewis Teague (Navy Seals, The Jewel of the Nile), exploring his web series Charlotta-TS; and "Tropfest's Best: 7 Minutes or Less," spotlighting picks from Australia's celebrated shorts festival.
Ringed by mountains and affluent skiers, Aspen may better known for its outdoor sports than indoor lounging. Yet Aspen Shortsfest has been turning this perception around with its Oscar-qualifying International Competition, filmmaker appearances, parties and special presentations.
This year, its embarrassment of film riches prompted Eldred to extend the fest by a night.

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By Laura Blum


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