There’s nothing slight about Aspen Shortsfest, Aspen Film’s annual festival devoted to short-form movies. The Shortsfest International Competition, winners of which qualify for Academy Award consideration, will feature 53 films, representing 26 countries and ranging from heart-wrenching documentaries to lyrical animation. Several dozen guest filmmakers will be in attendance to discuss their work. Special events include film programs of select British shorts, kid-friendly fare, and the two current winners of the Oscar for best short film. And for those who want a hook to feature-length films, here they are: Kate Hudson (who directed the short “Cutlass,” starring Virginia Madsen, Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell and showing at Shortsfest); Bill Plympton (the animator featured in this year’s Director Spotlight segment; he is at work on the feature film “Idiots and Angels”); and Jason Reitman (the director of “Juno,” who has made repeat appearances at past Shortsfests). Shortsfest ’08 runs Wednesday through Sunday, April 2-6, in Aspen, with additional film programs Friday through Sunday, April 4-6, at Carbondale’s Crystal Theatre.
Recently, a story on tribute bands appeared in the Weekend section of The Aspen Times daily edition. Belly Up Aspen seems to have taken this as encouragement; since the article was published, a schedule already filled with tribute acts became overloaded. The club added the Atomic Punks, who honor early Van Halen, and Wild Child, a Doors cover group, to a schedule that already featured Lez Zeppelin (all-female Led Zep act) and Super Diamond (Neil Diamond). Those shows (as well as tributes to Queen and the Beatles at the Wheeler Opera House) have come and gone, but after a week of original music at Belly Up, the mimicry parade gets cranking again. The Machine, paying homage to Pink Floyd, is set for Thursday, April 3; Cash’d Out, a Johnny Cash tribute, appears April 11; and the ski season closes with two nights, April 12-13, of Dark Star Orchestra doing its obsessive and uncanny resurrection of the Grateful Dead. Bonus coverage: The Aspen Art Museum, in conjunction with its current Neil Young-inspired exhibit Marlon Brando, Pocahontas, and Me, presents an afternoon of Neil knockoffs Sunday, March 30, at the Sundeck on top of Aspen Mountain. Take cover.
Sisters Helene and Celia Faussart were born in Bordeaux, then moved to Chad as children with their French father and Cameroonian mother. As the French-based duo Les Nubians, the Faussart sisters play up their multiculturalism to the hilt. Their music, which they call “Afropean,” is sung in French, touches on European pop, American soul and hip-hop, smooth jazz, and African grooves. The group’s most recent album, “Echos, Chapter One,” which adds spoken-word poetry to the mix, was released in 2005, but they come to Belly Up for a gig on Monday, March 31. Opening is Radio Active, a hip-hopper from Boston whose resume includes painting, writing and, perhaps most important to local music fans, rapping onstage and on discs with Michael Franti.