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The silver screen shorts out

Joel Stonington

Christopher Leone’s short film “K-7,” which won Best Live Action Short at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen a few weeks ago, “would make sitting through two hours of C-SPAN2 worth it,” according to the Austin Chronicle.The short shows at 8:45 p.m. April 6 as part of the Aspen Shortsfest, which starts this week. Tickets go on sale today.”When I wrote it I was unemployed and broke,” Leone said. “It’s about an ordinary job interview that goes from bad to worse to combat.”After he read the script, Lawrence Mattis, Leone’s manager, supplied half the budget to create the short film. “This is my first live action, 35-millimeter film,” Leone said. “My manager putting up the money was a big leap of faith on his part.””K-7” is part of the international competition, what the executive director of Aspen Filmfest, Laura Thielen calls, “the heart and soul of the festival.”Aspen Filmfest, the nonprofit organizing the Shortsfest, considered more than 1,900 entries from more than 45 countries and chose 49 shorts to be in the competition. Out of those, a few will take home the big money: $28,000 in cash and prizes. The jury will consist of cinematographer John Bailey, who has shot films such as “Groundhog Day” and “The Producers”; Patricia Cardoso, director of “Real Women Have Curves”; critic Bob Denerstein from the Rocky Mountain News; and writer-director Jason Reitman.Thielen says the festival helps highlight how important short films are because up-and-comers can and make them, and they’re made on a lower budget. “Many, many filmmakers, you can go back to Disney … that’s how they started,” Thielen said. “Disney, Spielberg, Spike Lee, they started with shorts. It’s a very important medium in terms of emerging filmmakers to cultivate their filmmaking skills.”The Shortsfest is not just the international competition, however. There are also free lounge acts and CineCafé, with topics such as the use of music in films, with a panel of experts and a conversation with Dan Dubecki, Reitman’s longtime producer. The fifth annual local’s showcase will take place Saturday at the Wheeler Opera House. It is free and open to the public. There will be $3,500 in cash and prizes for the entrants. Other events include an afternoon of clips and conversations with various well-known directors. On April 9, Frank Pierson will present a shot-by-shot analysis of “Dog Day Afternoon.” The final night of the festival, April 9, will feature Reitman with his latest work, “Thank You for Smoking,” a film based on Christopher Buckley’s novel and featuring a cast including Maria Bello, Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Rob Lowe and William H. Macy. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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