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Snapshots

Filmmaker Bill Plympton will be featured in the Director Spotlight segment of Aspen Shortsfest 2008. Shortsfest, Aspen Film’s annual festival of short films, is set for April 2-6, with programs including screenings, panel discussions and filmmaker workshops.

Plympton, a two-time Academy Award nominee whose animated films have frequently been screened at Aspen Shortsfest, will present a new short, “Hot Dog,” the latest in his “Dog” series, and will conduct an animation master class. There will also be a screening program devoted to Plympton’s films.

The 61-year-old Plympton began his career as a cartoonist and illustrator, and moved into filmmaking in 1983 with “Boomtown,” based on the song by fellow cartoonist Jules Feiffer. He made his feature-film debut with 1992’s “The Tune,” a nominee for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival, and is currently at work on the feature film, “Idiots and Angels.”

Past honorees in the Director Spotlight include Jason Reitman, director of the current hit “Juno”; Todd Field, director of “Little Children” and “In the Bedroom”; and Australian animator Adam Elliot.

The complete Shortsfest program will be available March 15, and tickets go on sale March 21 at the Wheeler Opera House box office. For further information on Shortsfest and other Aspen Film events, go to http://www.aspenfilm.org.

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation, in partnership with the Pitkin County Library, is introducing the Big Read to Aspen this spring. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment of the Arts that encourages entire communities to read and discuss the same book.

The Aspen chapter of the Big Read launches April 6 with “Bless Me, Ultima,” a 1972 novel by Chicano writer Rudolf Anaya. Winner of the Premio Quinto Sol award, it is a coming-of-age novel set in a small New Mexico border town in the 1940s. The book has been published in both English and Spanish.

The Big Read in Aspen runs from April 6-May 5.

The program also includes the Little Read, a companion project featuring Anaya’s bilingual children’s books.

For further information on Aspen Writers’ Foundation events, go to http://www.aspenwriters.org.

The Wheeler Opera House has added new shows to its winter schedule.

Peter Sagal, playwright, actor and host of the NPR news and game show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” appears Friday, Feb. 29, in a variety show that includes a reading from his new book, “The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them.”

Grammy Award-winning bluegrass group the Del McCoury Band, led by 69-year-old singer McCoury, is set for March 6. Banjoist and musical storyteller Michael Miles appears March 11, in an event presented by the Aspen Historical Society. The Aspen Jewish Community Center presents Marc Salem’s mind-oriented show March 25.

Previously announced events at the Wheeler include the stand-up comedy series What’s So Funny? on Saturday, March 1 and March 14; One Night of Queen, a tribute to rock band Queen, on March 15; the Bellydance Superstars on March 16; singer Art Garfunkel on March 27; and “1964 ” The Tribute,” a tribute to the early-era Beatles, on March 29.

For further information on events at the Wheeler, go to http://www.wheeleroperahouse.com.


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