Straight talk at Shortsfest ’06 |

Straight talk at Shortsfest ’06

Stewart Oksenhorn
Director/producer Bob Rafelson takes the Wheeler stage today for take two of Confessions of a Filmmaker. (Aspen Times file)

Filmmakers are coming from all points on the map to participate in Aspen Shortsfest – even our own little corner of the globe is represented.Bob Rafelson, a director, producer and writer who has lived in Aspen since the early ’70s, takes the stage at the Wheeler Opera House at 5:30 p.m. today, for take two of his very unscripted chat, Confessions of a Filmmaker. The first presentation of Confessions, at last fall’s Aspen Filmfest, provided enough insight and laughs, as well as anecdotes and words The Aspen Times’ upper management deemed off-limits, that an encore seemed worth a go.Rafelson intends to stick with the old format of winging it. “I improvised all of that, so I’m going to do the same thing,” he said. “I put clips up to prompt questions about what it was like to make that particular movie.”Among the stories that came up in Confessions, Part I, involved the promotion of “Head,” Rafelson’s first film. (In a moment, we’ll see if we can sneak the source of the film’s title past the Times standards and practices people.) A zany bit of 1968-era psychedelia starring the Monkees and some far-out visual effects, “Head” was essentially given no promotional budget whatsoever. So Rafelson and his co-writer, Jack Nicholson, took to the streets, walking in the vicinity of the one New York theater that screened the movie, loudly and randomly extolling the virtues of “Head.” For many reasons, the strategy didn’t work; apart from the obvious ones, that particular theater was usually devoted to Spanish-language cinema.Still, Rafelson survived to make another film. In fact, his next movie, again in collaboration with Nicholson, made him one of the pioneers of the early-’70s independent cinema. “Five Easy Pieces,” starring Nicholson as a disaffected oil-rig worker, is a classic of the era. And in discussing a clip from that film in Confessions of a Filmmaker, Rafelson turns from off-color anecdotes to master filmmaker. His discussion of filming the scene between Nicholson’s Robert Dupea and the character’s dying father offered deep insight into filming techniques, the relationship between director and actor, and the fruitful partnership between Rafelson and Nicholson. (Rafelson would direct Nicholson in four more films, including “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Blood and Wine.”)Expect more nuggets from Rafelson along the lines of the naming of his first film. The title “Head” has nothing to do with the action of the movie. But Rafelson, as producer, and Nicholson were working at the same time on another film, which history would treat better: “Easy Rider.” The two miscreants relished the idea of billing “Easy Rider” with the line, “From the people who gave you ‘Head.'”Also on today’s schedule is Program Three in the Shortsfest International Competition (8:45 at the Wheeler). Highlights of the program include “Antonio’s Breakfast,” an unsettling urban drama of a young man torn between caring for his ill father and running with the pack; “K-7,” a comedy about an unwitting CIA assassin; and “Crash,” by Oscar-nominated Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo.Shortsfest runs through Sunday, with events in Aspen and Carbondale. For a full program, go to Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is

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