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Aspen Shortsfest announces winners


An Iraqi boatman, a precocious seven-year old smoker, and a sleepy head were among the winners of the 14th annual Aspen Shortsfest 2005 international short film and video competition when the awards were announced Sunday, April 10. In prefacing the jury?s decisions, jury member Alexander Payne (Sideways) said: "It's unfair to judge a festival this good. It was a constant Sophie's Choice. We were only unanimous in picking one winner: Aspen Shortsfest itself, a brilliantly conceived miracle of a festival."

With multiple film guests from 37 of the 66 competition finalists, a record number of filmmakers from the International Competition attended this annual Colorado Rocky Mountain showcase, which ran April 6 - 10. This year's competition included short films and videos from 27 countries, many of them premieres. The finalists were selected from a worldwide offering of nearly 2,000 short comedies, dramas, animation, and documentaries from 60 countries. This juried event celebrated a host of artistic voices from Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, Asia, and the Pacific, awarding $21,500 in cash, as well as a film stock prize sponsored by Kodak.

This year?s competition was judged by a guest jury of distinguished film professionals including: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (director and co-writers of Sideways, winner of the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as six Independent Spirit Awards including Best Director and Best Film); Jon Bloom (an Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker with broad experience as a director, producer, cinematographer and editor); producer Jason Blumenthal (his latest production, The Weather Man starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine, will be released this spring); and veteran short film distributor Megan O'Neill (Vice-President of Acquisitions and Development for Atom Films).

The jury awarded prizes in eight categories as follows: The Animated Eye ($2,500); Ryan (Chris Landreth, Canada); Best Comedy ($2,500; shared) ? Home Game (Martin Lund, Norway) and Our Time Is Up (Rob Pearlstein, USA); Best Documentary ($2,500) ? Family Portrait (Patricia Riggen, USA); Best Drama ($2,500); Smoke-Flavored Life (Eunjung Ryou, South Korea); Best Student Film ($2,000); Victoria Para Chino (Cary Joji Fukunaga, USA/Mexico); Best Short Short ($1,000); My Head (Knut Petter Ryan, Norway); Best Cinematography ($2,500 film stock); Rain Is Falling (Holger Ernst, Germany); Most Innovative Film ($1,000); City Paradise (Gaelle Denis, UK). In addition, Special Jury Recognition ($400 each) was awarded to Rave Against the Machine (Richard Rudy, James Harvey, Stevan Riley, Holly Lubbock, UK), Alice and Me (Micha Wald, Belgium), Silent Companion (Elham Hossein zadeh, Iran), La Vie d'un Chien (The Life of a Dog) (John Harden, USA), and Goodnight Irene (Sterlin Harjo, USA).

For the second year, the Los Angeles chapter of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts presented its Award for Excellence, which went to Rain Is Falling (Holger Ernst, Germany); Little Terrorist (Ashvin Kumar, UK/India), Screwback (Brian O'Malley, Ireland), and Victoria Para Chino (Cary Joji Fukunaga, USA) all received an Honorable Mention.

Other honors included The Ellen ($1,500), determined by a special jury headed by Aspen Filmfest's founder Ellen Hunt for the most original film, went to Ryan (Chris Landreth, Canada). The Ellen jury also awarded Certificates for Excellence and Originality ($1,000 each) to Tama Tu (Taika Waititi, New Zealand) and Goodbye, Cruel World (Vito Rocco, UK). The Audience Award ($1,000) was given to God Sleeps in Rwanda (Kimberlee Acquaro & Stacy Sherman, USA).

The winners of Aspen Shortsfest?s Local Filmmaker Competition chosen by a community jury from the Roaring Fork Valley were Best Film : A Good Strong Roof (Tony Gault); Best Student Film: State Dreams (Matt Hobbs); and Special Jury Recognition: From Fear to Faith (Rosa Bielec, Annalisa Hodgkins and Tom Eldridge).

Bruno Chatelin


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