Aspen Shortsfest: ‘Women&Wine’ | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Shortsfest: ‘Women&Wine’

The Norwegian comedy "Women&Wine" is one of six films in the opening program at Aspen Shortfest, playing Tuesday night at Paepcke Auditorium.

The 26th annual Aspen Shortsfest opens tonight with an international slate of films. The six shorts include titles from Portgual, Greece, Germany, one American film (Pixar's "Lou") and the clever, cringe-inducing Norwegian comedy "Women&Wine."

It opens with a pair of friends wearing masks and embarking on a good-natured "kidnapping" of a mutual girlfriend. Their plan is to take her to a surprise 50th birthday party. But when the birthday girl can't guess the identity of Turid (Marit Andreassen) from behind her mask, it sends Turid into a silent, smoldering jealousy. Throughout the party, that feeling snowballs to uproarious comic effect in this 22-minute short.

Director Liv Karin Dahlstrøm said the potent comedy in "Women&Wine" allowed her to explore some rarely discussed truths about friendship and the undercurrent of hostility that's often just below the surface.

"I want the audience to think that it helps to talk," Dahlstrøm said via email from Norway. "And it helps to make yourself vulnerable and tell how one feels instead of being proud because you are afraid to lose face."

While directing Andreassen and the cast over the movie's five-day shoot outside Oslo, Dahlstrøm said, she downplayed the slapstick and the broader comic elements of the story, allowing the awkward and character-based comedy to emerge on its own.

"Marit played out Turid's situation as if it was a question of life and death," she explained. "She's very good at playing indignant, and her sense of timing makes the seriousness humorous. … We talked about friendship and how much that means in the phase of life and age both the characters and actors are in, and tried to make the story as personal as possible for Marit and her own life."

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The movie actually does trace its roots to a personal incident in the director's life. Dahlstrøm recalled that she and a friend did once don masks and surprise another friend, whisking her away to he bachelorette party. The caper turned awkward when the bachelorette couldn't identify one of them behind her mask. Dahlstrøm imagined what might happen if the situation had turned ugly — it didn't, she noted — and how extreme one's fear of losing a place in a pecking order of friends could get.

She co-wrote the film with frequent collaborator Thorkild Schrumpf, who takes a similar delight in the quirks of grown-up relationships: "We both get inspiration for everyday life and everyday people — and we both find much humor and also vulnerability in the extent people will go to not lose face."

Shortsfest runs through Sunday and includes a total of 64 short films in 15 programs at Paepcke Auditorium and the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen and at the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.

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If You Go …

What: ‘Women&Wine” at Aspen Shortsfest, Program One

Where: Paepcke Auditorium

When: Tuesday, April 4, 8:15 p.m.

How much: $20/general admission; $15/Aspen Film members

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office; http://www.aspenshowtix.com

More info: The program includes six short films. It will be preceded by an opening reception at the Red Brick Center at 6:30 p.m. and followed by an après-screening event at the J-Bar. http://www.aspenfilm.org

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