On leaner budget, Aspen Shortsfest returns | AspenTimes.com

On leaner budget, Aspen Shortsfest returns

ASPEN ” The 18th annual Aspen Shortsfest kicks off Wednesday, scaled back because of the recession but still aimed at filling seats, entertaining and intriguing viewers, and giving filmmakers exposure on the big screen.

“Sponsorships and grants are way down, so we’ve had to focus on what is the heart and soul of this,” said Laura Thielen, who heads the nonprofit Aspen Film, which puts on Shortsfest.

Thielen said the Shortsfest international competition, in which the best short features are recognized among the ones being screened through Sunday, will remain intact.

“That’s really what we are all about,” she said. “That’s what we’ve built our reputation on in the international community.”

But, like many nonprofits taxed with refining their programs, Aspen Film is trimming its offerings at this year’s Shortsfest.

There will be no opening night party or special presentations. The filmmakers’ lounge has been relegated to the lobby at the Wheeler Opera House. And Aspen Film also lost its sponsor for cash awards.

Even so, Thielen remains excited about the Shortsfest, which will be held at the Wheeler and the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.

“I think it’s great for all audiences and I think younger audiences get a lot more out of this,” she said, “because so many of the filmmakers are young filmmakers. Many are just beginning in their film careers and the way they approach the medium and the subject matters, it’s really vibrant.”

Thielen calls the young filmmakers “some of the voices of tomorrow.”

“It’s so exciting to have the filmmakers and the audiences in the theater at the same time. There’s drama, there’s comedy, there’s animation, there’s documentaries and each program is eclectic in the subject matter ” but there’s also the emotional tone,” she said. “What I really like about Shortsfest is people go in really knowing nothing about the films. There’s no New York Times review or Roger Ebert review telling you what works or doesn’t work in the film.”


For the full Shortfest schedule, go to http://www.aspentimes.com/shortsfest.

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