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Aspen Shortsfest highlights

Filmmakers from around the world will gather April 5-9 for Aspen Shortsfest 2006 at the Wheeler Opera House and other locations in Aspen and Carbondale, Colorado. Now in its 15th year, Shortsfest will present an array of short films for all ages chosen from over 45 countries. Two evenings of selected festival highlights will also screen April 14 - 15 at Denver’s Starz FilmCenter in association with the Denver Film Society.

From premiers to Oscar®-nominated shorts, this year's International Competition runs the gamut. Forty-nine finalists will be screened for the public when they compete for a record $28,000 in cash and other prizes. This Academy Award-qualifying competition will be judged by a jury of distinguished film professionals including acclaimed cinematographer John Bailey (The Producers, As Good As It Gets), director Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), esteemed film critic Bob Denerstein (Rocky Mountain News), and this year's Director Spotlight choice, writer-director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking). For the first time at Aspen Shortsfest, AtomFilms will present a $5,000 Studio Award. Kodak returns with a film stock prize for Best Cinematography. For the third year, the Los Angeles chapter of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) will present its Award for Excellence. Aspen Shortsfest will also introduce a new Youth Jury Prize to be determined by a panel of local middle and high school students. This year's winners will be announced at the free Awards Ceremony on Sunday, April 9.

Competition Manager George Eldred comments, “From Argentina to Canada, from Norway to South Africa, from India to Coney Island, the International Competition program for Aspen Shortsfest 2006 truly covers the globe. With both veteran favorites like Bill Plympton and remarkable first-time filmmakers, our Animation, Documentary, Comedy, and Drama categories offer a bouquet of talent. We are delighted to bring this eclectic collection of outstanding shorts to audiences.”

There are several other Aspen Shortsfest 2006 highlights.

Bob Rafelson, back by popular demand, will continue his Confessions of a Filmmaker with Part II on Thursday, April 6. This year’s Director Spotlight choice, Jason Reitman, will be on hand for two programs: an onstage conversation with screenings of his early work on Friday, April 7, and a special showing of his new debut feature Thank You for Smoking on Sunday, April 9. Frank Pierson (Presumed Innocent, A Star Is Born) returns to moderate MasterWorks: In the Director’s Chair, an afternoon of clips and conversation with Oscar®-winner Paul Haggis (Crash), Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent), Mark and Michael Polish (Northfolk), and Peter Segal (The Longest Yard) on Saturday, April 8. On Sunday, April 9 Frank Pierson will also present a shot-by-shot analysis of Dog Day Afternoon (for which he won an Oscar®) from the perspective of the screenwriter.

The fifth annual Local Filmmakers Showcase will take place on Saturday, April 1 at the Wheeler Opera House. This free community screening celebrates the work of local talent of all ages. In partnership with PlumTV, Aspen Filmfest will award $3,500 in cash and prizes.

ScreenPlay!, the Shortsfest family program, offers a memorable trip around the world for movie buffs age ten and older with a selection of animated and live action films on Sunday, April 9 at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen. Program includes the Oscar®-nominated short Badgered.

Closing Night on Sunday, April 9 will feature Jason Reitman with his new work, Thank You for Smoking, a brilliantly scathing satire based on Christopher Buckley’s best-selling novel. The ensemble cast features Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, David Koechner, Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Rob Lowe, and William H. Macy.

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