Aspen Shortsfest: ‘In a Nutshell,’ ‘Fatima Maria Torres,’ ‘Aaba’ and ‘Three Red Sweaters’ take top prizes |

Aspen Shortsfest: ‘In a Nutshell,’ ‘Fatima Maria Torres,’ ‘Aaba’ and ‘Three Red Sweaters’ take top prizes

Staff report
"Aaba," winner of Best Drama award at the 26th annual Aspen Shortsfest.
Courtesy photo |

An international slate of films took the top prizes at the 26th Aspen Shortsfest, which wrapped Sunday after six days of screenings and 64 films.

Aspen Film announced its winners Sunday evening at an awards dinner held at the Aspen Kitchen.

More than $15,000 in prizes was presented, including the audience award and nine juried categories, four of which qualify the winners for Oscar consideration.

Swiss director Fabio Friedli’s “In a Nutshell” won the Best Animation prize.

“This stream of consciousness collage is masterfully observational, rhythmic and unique in its use of sound and visuals,” the Shortsfest jury said in its commendation. “The filmmaker uses his rapid-fire medium to remind us that life is always at once both universal and individual.”

A special mention for animation from the jury also went to Jean Lecointre’s “Les Animaux Domestiques, Jean Lecointre,” from France.

The Best Comedy award went to “Fatima Maria Torres and the Invasion of Space Shuttle Pinas 25,” by Carlo Francisco Manatad of the Philippines.

“This down-to-Earth science-fiction love story mixed the charms of many genres to create something wholly original,” reads the jury’s statement on the film. “We see the handwriting of a unique emerging cinematic voice in this surprising film about people who are not surprised by anything.”

The jury also gave a special mention in comedy to “After the Volcano” by France’s Léo Favier.

India’s “Aaba,” by director Amar Kaushik, won Best Drama. The jury stated: “A strikingly touching film, this self-assured, authentic work reflects a strong aesthetic from a filmmaker whose egoless approach to his story, and performances by his non-actors, allowed for an unparalleled intimacy for the audience.”

In drama, a special mention also went to Norway’s “Nothing Ever Really Ends” by Jakob Rørvik.

The Best Short Short went to the four-minute “Call of Cuteness,” by German director Brenda Lien, and which the jury commended as “A skillfully rotoscoped deconstruction of the cat meme.”

American Martha Gregory’s “Three Red Sweaters” won the Best Documentary prize.

“This journey into family archives uses a very personal story to examine how memory is captured as a moment in time,” reads the jury’s statement. “Through the use of photographs and conversations, this inquisitive director gives new life to what was once thought lost forever.”

A special jury mention in documentary also went to Switzerland’s “E.B.C. 5300 M.”

The Best Student Short was given to Sweden’s “Schoolyard Blues” by director Maria Eriksson, which the jury called “a beautifully crafted and personal story about brotherhood, responsibility and sacrifice.” The film also won the Youth Jury Award, which is decided on by a group of Aspen High School and Aspen Middle School students.

The jury also gave a special mention in student film to Peruvian director Roca Rey’s “Wañuy.”

The Shortsfest jury members were John Canciani (artistic director, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur), Jay Cohen (partner and head of film finance and distribution, The Gersh Agency), Amy Nicholson (chief film critic, MTV News), Ania Trzebiatowska (head of acquistions, Visit Films) and Florian Weghorn (program manager, Berlinale Talents).


The audience award, decided by audience ballots at Shortsfest screenings, went to Alexandra Liveris for “Eyes of Exodus,” a documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis on the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo.

The festival also recognized four additional films receiving the most audience votes: “In a Nutshell,” “Get Up, Kinshasa!” “Nothing Ever Really Ends” and “Make a Wish.”

The Ellen Award, including a $2,500 prize, named for Aspen Film’s founder and former executive director Ellen Kohner Hunt and given annually to “a film that embodies the spirit of Aspen Film’s programming from 1976 to 1995” was given to the Cuban-American co-production “The End of Time” by Milcho Manchevski.

“It is our honor to be a part of these filmmakers’ journeys — and it’s clear that Aspen is the perfect place to celebrate creative inspiration,” Shortsfest director of programming Kathleen McInnis said in the awards announcement.

Aspen Film Executive Director John Thew offered praise for McInnis at the conclusion of her first year helming Shortsfest: “Kathleen has helped to cement Shortsfest as the premiere short film festival in North America; a place for industry to scout new talent, filmmakers to make important connections, and audiences to celebrate this important art form.”

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