Aspen Shortsfest unveils 69-film program for 2019
Aspen Film announced Thursday its program for the 28th annual Aspen Shortsfest, which will be held at the Wheeler Opera House and Crystal Theatre from April 2 to 7. The festival explores unique themes through a series of 12 programs of short-form cinema.
The 2019 program includes 69 films from 26 countries – 41 percent of which are female-directed – spanning documentary, animation, comedy and drama.
“Once again we’re excited to present a diverse and global lineup of films for our 28th Aspen Film Shortsfest,” Aspen Film executive director Susan Wrubel said in Thursday’s announcement, “We had an unprecedented nearly 2,600 submissions this year; our programming team worked tirelessly to craft a program that is depictive of today’s world, showcasing film from all over of the planet.”
Shortsfest is Oscar-qualifying in five categories of its international competition.
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“We’re absolutely thrilled to present this program of extraordinary films from some of the most passionate filmmakers from around the world,” says Director of Programming Landon Zakheim.
Shortsfest will also for the first time screen a feature film, the 2013 drama “Short Term 12,” adapted from an award-winning short of the same name by filmmaker Destin Cretton who will be in-person at the festival to for the special presentation. “Short Term 12” helped launch and further the careers of Oscar winner Brie Larson, Oscar winner Rami Malek and LaKeith Stanfield.
For the second year, Aspen Film will also present the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, a live iteration of the platform’s Staff Picks laurel. The winning film will be available for viewing worldwide on the Vimeo Staff Picks channel on April 8, the day after the Closing Night Awards Dinner.
In Shortsfest tradition, a special Ellen Jury will present the Ellen Award to a filmmaker at the dinner. The Ellen honors Aspen Film’s founder and executive director Ellen Kohner Hunt, who retired in 1995.
The festival is an industry-recognized destination for discovering breakthrough talent. Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Sarah Polley (“Stories We Tell”) are among notable alumni whose short films first screened at Aspen Shortsfest before they became household names.
The full program is online at aspentimes.com and aspenfilm.org.
2019 ASPEN SHORTSFEST PROGRAM
West London, 1979. Racial tensions are running high. Lucky thinks his younger brother is in trouble, but the truth is far from what he expected. (Iesh Thapar, United Kingdom, 16 min.) International Premiere
All in My Family
A heartfelt, cross-cultural autobiographical story of Chinese-born filmmaker Hao Wu, who creates a thoroughly modern LGBTQ family with his gay partner in the US, only to face the dilemma of how to introduce his partner and two children to his very traditional parents and relatives back in China – some of whom don’t even know he’s gay. (Hao Wu, USA, 40 min.)
Alma has just entered a new high school and her classmate, Víctor, invites her to a party. The transition of her body and her hidden desires lead Alma to face her inner fears and thus take the first step to love herself as she is. (Santiago León Cuéllar, Colombia, 17 min.) North American Premiere
An African Pentecostal Pastor questions everything she believes after a life-changing event. (Tomisin Adepeju, United Kingdom, 15 min.) North American Premiere
In an impoverished country, rife with contradiction, a young girl is torn by her obligation to her family and the influence of foreign visitors. (Dekel Berenson, UK/Nepal, 15 min.)
Athleticus : Middle distance race
Wild animals compete in athletic events. (Nicolas Deveaux, France, 2 min.) North American Premiere
In the beginning was the Stain. A paintbrush reveals a being of gouache, opens him, transforms him, twists him, completes him. From this accelerated evolution arises a conquering being… (Donato Sansone , France, 5 min.)
Malik returns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife. (Meryam Joobeur, Canada/Tunisia/Qatar/Sweden, 25 min.)
Amidst a devastating opioid epidemic, a needle exchange and free clinic operates in the shadows of Fresno, California. (Elivia Shaw, USA, 16 min.)
A short documentary about love and passion. (Aleksandra Maciejczyk, Poland, 18 min.) North American Premiere
Nobody should have to die alone. A contemplation on life, death and kindness. (Isa Rao, United Kingdom, 15 min.)
14-year-old Crowley faces the loss of his big brother by following his footsteps. The little Cowboy tries hard to become a great Bullrider. (Andre Hörmann, Germany, 15 min.) North American Premiere
Dios Nunca Muere (God Never Dies)
Living in hidden America, Paula, a Mexican farmworker struggles to raise two children on her own. When a new caravan arrives on the cramped lot they live on, Paula allows herself, and her children, to imagine the home is theirs—a fantasy highlighting the fragility of her reality and her family. (Barbara Cigarroa, Ireland/USA, 14 min.)
On Colombia’s Pacific Coast, a mother teaches her daughter how to swim. It is an essential skill in this remote region, where livelihoods are made on the sea and where rising tides, made worse by climate change, have swept entire villages away in recent years. (Angello Faccini, Guille Isa, Colombia/USA, 11 min.)
Revealing the deeply personal truths of three local residents, Edgecombe is an examination of the ways trauma repeats and reinvents itself in rural Black communities. (Crystal Kayiza, USA, 14 min.)
In a climate of xenophobia and confusion, a San Francisco hotline aims to provide limited assistance to a targeted population. (Paloma Martinez, USA, 12 min.)
Everything You Wanted To Know About Sudden Birth* (*but were afraid to ask)
The true story of how the Berkeley police department, the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, an Academy Award winner and Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame are all connected by “Sudden Birth,”, one of the most unintentionally hilarious and disturbing educational films ever created. (Scott Calonico, UK/Germany, 11 min.)
As a man anxiously awaits a meeting in the local pub, he is forced to explore his own difficult memories and relationships in an evening that will leave him changed forever. (Sam Gainsborough, United Kingdom, 7 min.)
In the winter of 1994, in the French suburbs, Baptiste and Leo, two polar opposite students, meet up one evening to work on a school presentation. (Benjamin Vu, France, 33 min.)
Elizier, an emotionally-dejected new enrollee at The Edward R. Mill School for Lost Boys, must overcome memories of a tragic past and the present hazing by his peers in order to tackle larger issues dominating his young life. (A.V. Rockwell, USA, 19 min.)
A poor agricultural labourer leads a double life in the village’s last remaining cornfield. But the harvest is approaching… (Sandhya Suri, France/UK/India, 19 min.)
The Fox and the Bird
A solitary fox finds itself improvising fatherhood for a freshly hatched baby bird. (Fred Guillaume, Sam Guillaume, Switzerland, 11 min.) International Premiere
Ghosts of Sugar Land
In Sugar Land, Texas, a group of young Muslim American men ponder the disappearance of their friend “Mark,” who is suspected of joining ISIS. (Bassam Tariq, USA, 21 min.)
Green, an undocumented Turkish pedicab driver, unwittingly draws police attention, endangering his brother, his community, and himself. (Suzanne Andrews Correa, USA, 12 min.)
Tayra and I grew up on a beach in the north east of Brazil. We were inseparable. The sea breeze brings me back happy memories. (Nara Normande, France/Brazil, 14 min.)
A mother who rarely sees her filmmaker son, suddenly encounters a ghost outside of his childhood bedroom. (Christian Einshøj, Denmark, 30 min.)
Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre
A horror comedy about one woman’s desperate struggle to survive a pack of men who just want to explain everything to her. (Ilja Rautsi, Finland, 15 min.)
The two best rescue workers of the region are ready for their new mission. Despite their professionalism and their determination, it will not go as planned…(Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, Oscar Malet, France, 6 min.)
How to Make a Rainbow
The film observes a young girl and her mother over the course of two years as they move together through transitions of home, identity and name. (Ryan Maxey, USA, 16 min.) World Premiere
How to Swim
Abigail is heavily pregnant, But something is missing. Terrified about the imminent birth, she kidnaps a comforting partner in crime for one afternoon. (Noa Gusakov, Israel, 15 min.)
During summer holidays in the countryside, an 11-year-old boy goes through his first boyhood experience as he discovers the violence for the first time. (Mateusz Jarmulski, Poland, 8 min.) North American Premiere
A film in the spirit of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes From A Marriage”, spiked with a dark sense humor. (Patrik Eklund, Sweden, 16 min.) North American Premiere
The Inner Side
Working at a family connection center, Aya, a social worker watching through the glass window observes meetings between children and their estranged parents. (Danel Elpeleg, Israel, 15 min.) U.S. Premiere
A man comes to grips with the fate of his sick cat, the only way he knows how. (Nick Paonessa, USA, 8 min.)
Vala and Benni are leaving Reykjavik for a simpler life in the countryside and are struggling to find a common ground about what their future holds. Their journey comes to a violent stop when they get into a head on collision with another car. (Erlendur Sveinsson, Iceland, 14 min.)
Camilo, from the projects outside of Stockholm, sees Amina on her way to a party. He borrows his friend’s expensive jacket and approaches her, offering to show her the way. (Tuna Özer, Sweden, 11 min.)
Las del Diente
Three women discuss the social pressure of having kids while celebrating the uniqueness of their bodies. (Ana Perez Lopez, Spain/USA, 6 min.)
A young gay man grows increasingly entangled in the marriage of an older couple. (Matthew Puccini USA, 11 min.)
Alex and Milagros deal with great life upheaval as they prepare to dance at their community’s redevelopment groundbreaking ceremony. (Faren Humes, USA, 17 min.)
Life in Miniature
A celebration of one woman’s mission to document the everyday. (Ellen Evans, United Kingdom, 5 min.)
Life Overtakes Me
Over the past fifteen years, hundreds of refugee children in Sweden have withdrawn into Resignation Syndrome, a sort of “willed death,” remaining in a coma-like state for months, or even years. The film follows three families for more than a year. Viewers are immersed in their lives as the anguished parents struggle to care for their sick children. (Kristine Samuelsen, John Haptas, USA, 40 min.)
The Likes and Dislikes of Marj Bagley
A family creates their grandmother in stop-motion animation. (Taylor Stanton, USA, 14 min.)
Little Grey Bubbles
Kim travels from New York City to a small town in Canada to attend the funeral of one of her best friends, who she had only ever spoken to online. (Charles Wahl, Canada, 14 min.)
Lou, a teenage tomboy in a small Californian town, idolizes her single father. When he has a date over one night and she is cast out of the house, Lou wanders to the outer reaches of town and into a new era of teenage identity. (Clara Balzary, USA, 12 min.) U.S. Premiere
Struggling with feelings for her best friend, 14 year-old Marie stages an almost perfect plan. (Celine Held, Logan George, USA, 12 min.)
Mack Beggs broke records and changed history when he won the Texas state title as a transgender wrestler. Now with high school ending and college on the horizon, the sports champion, national activist, and high school hero must grapple with what comes next. (Erin Sanger, USA, 26 min.)
A guy makes a bad first impression when he meets his girlfriend’s family as they gather at her grandfather’s death bed. (Tim Wilkime, USA, 11 min.)
A slice of life film about a Grandpa and his Grandsons, the future and the past. (Robert Machoian, USA, 10 min.)
A girl tries to find the answer about love before her big day, in a rainy night. (An Pham Thien, Vietnam/USA, 15 min.)
Nefta Football Club
In the south of Tunisia, two football fan brothers bump into a donkey lost in the middle of the desert on the border of Algeria. Strangely, the animal wears headphones over its ears. (Yves Piat, France, 17 min.)
When a young American woman decides to become a gestational surrogate to a couple from China, her insecure husband tries to torpedo the arrangement. (Henry Loevner, USA, 13 min.) World Premiere
One Small Step
An ambitious young girl aspires to become an astronaut with the support of her humble father. (Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas, USA/China, 8 min.)
A single mother’s most important roles in life will collide over the phone during a long take shot in the centre of Athens (Thanasis Neofotistos, Greece, 13 min.) North American Premiere
Scenes From a Dry City
In South Africa, an impending water crisis grips an entire nation. (Francois Vester, Simon Wood, South Africa, 13 min.)
A fireworks display of grinning people who lose themselves in the abysses of human existence. A selfie race around the world. A view on people’s every-day obsession with portraying themselves. (Claudius Gentinetta, Switzerland, 4 min.)
Anarchy emerges at a public pool party when a group of small girls push the limits of their strength and power. (Fanny Ovesen, Norway, 18 min.) North American Premiere
A man thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently? (Siqi Song, China/USA, 8 min.)
sometimes, i think about dying
Fran is thinking about dying, but a man in the office might want to date her. (Stefanie Abel Horowitz, USA, 12 min.)
The splash of water is like a bomb, about to break the tranquility of the pool. (Jie SHEN, China, 9 min.) North American Premiere
A crew of motley skaters and street teens commemorates their friend Jinx on their own terms. (Katherine Propper, USA, 12 min.)
The Summer of the Electric Lion
Hidden in a house far from the city, Alonso accompanies his dear sister, Daniela. She expects to become the seventh wife of The Lion, a prophet who (according to stories) electrocutes when you touch him. (Diego Céspedes, Chile, 22 min.)
A tragi-comedy about a woman and the loneliness that can set in when the children are out of the house. (Kirsikka Saari, Finland, 15 min.)
A gay couple returns to the Native American powwow where they were previously eliminated from a contest aimed at straight-only competitors called “The Sweetheart Dance.” (Ben-Alex Dupris, USA, 13 min.)
A young woman reminisces about her summer vacations with her grandfather as a child and that one camping trip that changed her life. (Sharanya Ramesh, India, 8 min.) North American Premiere
Meet the lawyers tasked with defending 9/11 suspects against the U.S. government. (Johanna Hamilton, UK, 17 min.)
The Water Slide
In 2016, an accident happened at an amusement park in Kansas. The story is recounted through television coverage. (Nathan Truesdell, USA, 9 min.)
A young girl must learn of the dangers new power brings, whether they step straight from her Grandmother’s stories or the fast-changing world beyond her doorstep. (Jessica Patterson, Ireland, 9 min.) International Premiere
This Magnificent Cake!
Five narratives set in colonial Africa in the late 19th century tell stories about a troubled king, a middle-aged Pygmy who works in an upscale hotel, a failed businessman who goes on an expedition, a lost porter, and a young army deserter (Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels, Belgium, 44 min.)
In order to escape the monotony and boredom of the end of the school year, a young boy fabricates a transceiver-receiver to communicate with strangers in the sky. (Vincent Wilson, Canada, 9 min.)
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