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Aspen’s Ferreira getting revved up for second world championships appearance, this time in home halfpipe

Aspen’s Alex Ferreira airs out of the halfpipe during the men’s ski superpipe finals at the X Games Aspen on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, at Buttermilk Ski Area. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Back-to-back contests with a career’s worth of promise on the line have Aspen’s Alex Ferreira fired up. The halfpipe skier has managed to shine on the sport’s biggest stages in recent years and they don’t get much bigger than the world championships.

“It’s definitely going to be intense, but it always is intense. I’m an intense guy, so let’s do this thing,” Ferreira told The Aspen Times on Saturday. “I’m going to take it a little different this time. I’m just going one day at a time and I’m going to put as much positivity with each foot forward and just do my best.”

The homegrown local will have the rare opportunity to compete at worlds in his own backyard when Buttermilk Ski Area hosts the prestigious event this week. Held once every two years, the world championships were supposed to have been held in Zhangjiakuo, China, last month, but were ultimately moved to Aspen, and rather last second, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Aspen’s Alex Ferreira drops in during the second run of the men’s ski superpipe finals during X Games Aspen on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, at Buttermilk. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Buttermilk also hosted X Games in January, the only event Ferreira has competed in so far this season. He finished seventh in his bid to defend his back-to-back gold medals and will look for better results come world championships. Usually, skiers have at least the Copper Grand Prix in December to warm up with, but that contest was among the many cancellations this season related to COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s just been a thing in my career where I’ve never really done well in the first event of the year,” Ferreira said. “You got to get used to those nerves. It’s such an intense moment. It’s such a whirlwind of emotions, and it’s hard to prepare for that until you do it.”

This will be Ferreira’s second time competing at world championships. He also skied in the 2019 contest hosted by Park City, Utah, where he finished eighth. Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck won that day to defend his world title from 2017 in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Ferreira was only a discretionary pick for worlds by the U.S. ski team this season, joining Blunck, Winter Park’s Birk Irving, Nevada’s David Wise and Boulder’s Lyman Currier on the five-man halfpipe squad. Basalt’s Hanna Faulhaber was named to the U.S. women’s halfpipe ski team for worlds along with Vermont’s Devin Logan and Californians Brita Sigourney and Abigale Hansen.

“I’m super grateful to be able to have the opportunity and the chance to compete,” Ferreira said. “That does mean they have faith in me, and that’s an interesting position to be in. I’ve never really been discretioned on. I’ve always earned my way, so I feel like it’s a little bit of a thank you.”

Ferreira didn’t necessarily struggle at X Games in January, as he was able to hit a lot of his tricks, but was unable to completely finish any of his runs. Among the challenges was competing without his longtime coach, Elana Chase, by his side. Chase is currently in China coaching their national team ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, to be hosted by Beijing.

“Just didn’t land exactly how I wanted. It’s OK. It’s part of the game,” Ferreira said of X Games. “It’s the first time I haven’t been at the top of the contest without my coach Elana Chase. That was a little difficult, but I’ve been through one so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able to handle it this time.”

Alex Ferreira video chats with his coach, Elana Chase, after the men’s ski superpipe finals ended during X Games Aspen on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, at Buttermilk. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

If the world championships weren’t enough, Buttermilk also will host a World Cup and U.S. Grand Prix event immediately following worlds. Both events have weight when it comes to Olympic qualifying, while the Grand Prix will be the first direct U.S. team qualifier for the 2022 Games. Racking up podiums is the name of the game during the Grand Prix events for American athletes, as that’s their ticket to China.

Ferreira competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics, winning silver behind Wise’s gold, after a career-defining stretch through the Grand Prix contests during the last Olympic cycle. This included a podium finish at the 2018 Grand Prix in Snowmass.

“There is always pressure on everyone, regardless of if you have done well or if you haven’t done well,” Ferreira said. “It’s so cutthroat being from America and being named to Team USA for the Olympics. Everyone is under pressure. I’m under pressure. It’s what you can do with that pressure. Hopefully you can turn it into diamonds. It’s part of the game of sport. Nobody knows what is going to happen. That’s what makes it exciting.”

The halfpipe skiing qualifiers for the world championships are scheduled for Wednesday, with finals on Friday. The Grand Prix qualifying is scheduled for March 19, with those finals set for March 21. The Olympic Channel will air the freeski halfpipe finals live from the world championships.

Because of the pandemic, spectators are not allowed on venue for either event. This is a negative for someone like Ferreira, who often has a massive cheering section at X Games, but he understands it’s necessary to hold the events at all.

“Every day is a gift that we get to compete and showcase our talents,” Ferreira said. “In my career, especially at Aspen, I totally feed off the fans. I ski for me, obviously, but I also ski to show people. I’m a showman, I’m an entertainer, I’m a performer. And I like that. I like that aspect of being an athlete. I think it’s fun.”

Alex Ferreira grins after winning gold for the second year in a row in the X Games Aspen men’s ski superpipe final on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, at Buttermilk Ski Area. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)


World Championships schedule

Wednesday, March 10: SB slopestyle/ski halfpipe qualifying

Thursday, March 11: SB halfpipe/ski slopestyle qualifying

Friday, March 12: SB slopestyle/ski halfpipe finals

Saturday, March 13: SB halfpipe/ski slopestyle finals

Sunday, March 14: SB big air qualifying

Monday, March 15: Ski big air qualifying

Tuesday, March 16: SB/ski big air finals

*Grand Prix runs from March 18-21

Aspen boys basketball team draws No. 6 seed at state, earns first-round bye

Aspen High School’s Liam Farrey takes a shot as the team plays against Vail Mountain School on Monday, March 1, 2021, inside the AHS gymnasium. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

The cards have been dealt. For Aspen High School boys basketball coach Alex Schrempf, it’s now about making the best play possible with what’s already in hand.

“Going into this part of the year, you recognize this is who we are now and we got to go out there and own it,” Schrempf said. “It’s not necessarily about any major growth any more. We’ve made as much growth as we can, and now we just have to go focus on competing and leaving everything out there every night we get.”

The Skiers found out Monday they are the No. 6 seed in the Class 3A state basketball tournament, but won’t know their first opponent until late Tuesday as they have one of eight first-round byes in the 24-team field. Aspen will host either No. 11 Faith Christian (8-4) or No. 22 Strasburg (9-5) on Thursday inside the AHS gymnasium.

This is Aspen’s second straight trip to the state tournament under its fifth-year coach. AHS lost at DSST: Byers in the first round last season, 51-36. Prior to that, the Skiers hadn’t been in the postseason since the 2013-14 season under coach Steve Ketchum, where they went 19-5 and lost to Brush in the round of 16.

“I wasn’t surprised at all that we found success last year because we had awesome leadership in our senior class,” Schrempf said of the team’s run to the state tournament a season ago. “The vibe is the same. It’s the same culture, it’s the same community, it’s the same family. We’ve just continued to stick together. If anything I look back at this last year and I credit our seniors from 2020 as the guys who helped set the bar for what was required of us to find success over this last year.”

Despite all of the hurdles surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Aspen is 12-1 overall this season with a 6-1 mark in the Class 3A Western Slope League. The lone loss came at home against Coal Ridge, which is the tournament’s No. 13 seed and will host No. 20 Buena Vista on Tuesday in the first round.

Aspen High School boys basketball coach Alex Schrempf tosses the ball back to the official during a game against Vail Mountain School on Monday, March 1, 2021, inside the AHS gymnasium. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

The Skiers have steadily risen under Schrempf. The son of former NBA standout Detlef Schrempf, he took over the reins ahead of the 2016-17 season, going 9-12. The team dropped to 4-16 in 2017-18, but followed with a 7-14 campaign in 2018-19. The 2019-20 team saw a big jump, going 14-10 overall with a run to the district championship game, a 30-point loss to Gunnison.

Despite losing some key seniors, notably Jonathan Woodrow and Aidan Ledingham, the Skiers returned a talented group of now juniors, highlighted by first-team WSL selections in brothers Braden and Shae Korpela, and team newcomer Porter Lee. Braden Korpela leads the team with 10.2 points per game this season, while Lee isn’t far behind at 9.6 points per game. A well-balanced group that doesn’t rely on any one player, five different players average at least seven points a night.

“We’ve seen success and I still feel like we have such a high ceiling,” Schrempf said. “We firmly believe we can play with anybody. There is a lot of excitement behind that, but we want to keep pushing them and keep them hungry for it. I’m really excited, because we have an opportunity.”

Faith Christian and Strasburg will play Tuesday night, with the winner making the long trek to Aspen two days later. The winner of that game will play again Saturday against No. 3 Sterling, No. 14 Colorado Springs Christian or No. 19 The Pinnacle, a game hosted by the highest remaining seed.

St. Mary’s drew the top overall seed in the tournament, while Lutheran is No. 2. Gunnison, seeded No. 15, was the third team to make the postseason out of the 3A WSL and will play No. 18 Salida on Tuesday, the winner headed to Lutheran on Thursday.

“We have this opportunity sitting here in front of us that’s really special,” Schrempf said. “We have helped these kids, but these kids have put in this time and stuck together over such a crazy year and I think the biggest thing, regardless of anything, is the lesson they are going to take away from coronavirus experiences. Not only did they get through this crazy year, but they found success and they got better and they all committed to something.”

The Basalt boys did not make the state tournament, finishing the season 5-4 overall. BHS temporarily had its season shut down due to a COVID-19 exposure, but returned to play one more “make-up game,” a 53-44 win over Roaring Fork.


Ace Lane’s Tree Farm project in El Jebel clears final legal hurdle

This image shows the lots that will be developed as part of the Tree Farm project in El Jebel. Phase one is on the left, which is the west side of Kodiak Ski Lake. A hotel will be develop on lots marked D-1 and D-2.

The Colorado Supreme Court declined Monday to consider a midvalley citizen group’s request to review its lawsuit over Eagle County government’s approval of the Tree Farm project in El Jebel.

Save Mid Valley founder and midvalley resident Ken Ransford wanted the September 2017 approval of the project revoked on several grounds. They lost a decision at the district court level in 2019 and by the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2020.

The Supreme Court justices said they reviewed the record, briefs and judgment of the Court of Appeals and declined to take up the matter.

“We have nowhere else to turn. The courts have approved Eagle County’s approval of the Tree Farm,” Ransford said via email.

Eagle County attorney Bryan Treu said county officials are “happy to finally put this matter behind us.”

“It is unfortunate the parties had to spend several years litigating this dispute just to arrive at the original result, but the county remains confident that the community can now put this matter behind them and work together to make this development a success,” Treu said in a statement.

The commissioners in office in 2017 voted 2-1 to approve 340 residences and up to 135,000 square feet of commercial on Ace Lane’s property across Highway 82 from Whole Foods. The bulk of the development is located between the highway and Kodiak Lake, Lane’s water ski facility.

Work continued on infrastructure for the project during the legal battle. Now that it is concluded, construction can commence on structures.

Dave Marrs, chief financial officer of Geronimo Ventures LLC, a part of Lane’s team, said the remaining infrastructure and all landscaping will be concluded in 2021.

“Vertical construction will commence in earnest on the majority of the project — 17 of the 20 lots as it looks today,” he said in an email. He stressed that the timing of construction of specific lots is still to be determined.

The first phase features four lots on the west end of the lake that will be split between residential and commercial uses, such as offices and restaurants.

Further to the west, off the lake, are three lots. One will be commercial on the first floor with condominiums on the upper floor. Two other buildings on the far west of the property will be condos.

The second phase will feature 11 lots, all of which are under contract and scheduled to seek grading permits this spring and building permits in summer, Marrs said.

Those lots include a hotel on two lots east of the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane — at the entrance to the project. The site is under contract for construction of a 122-room hotel in the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, according to Marrs. They are aiming for an opening date of November 2022, he said.

Four lots east of the hotel site are under contract for construction of independent living facility, according to Marrs. And east of that are lots devoted to apartments and light commercial uses.

The project includes 40 price-capped rental units and 10 price-capped for sale units. Eagle County and the developer also worked out an experimental plan that could result in additional affordable housing.

The proposal requires the developer to offer 150 units for sale to Roaring Fork Valley residents, with no price caps. They will be offered exclusively to local residents, in phases, for 60 days after they are built. After that, they can be sold to anyone.

It remains unclear how Eagle County will ensure those units are aggressively marketed to Roaring Fork Valley residents.

Marrs said Eagle County is also reviewing a proposal to dedicate a parcel to the Roaring Fork School District for development of up to 23 units of teacher housing.


Dozens turn out in support of Carbondale man who’s tied up in municipal court case

Michael Francisco, left, speaks with a supporter outside Carbondale Town Hall after his municipal court hearing Monday evening.
John Stroud/Post Independent

It’s not often that a small-town municipal court case draws protesters, but an otherwise fairly routine hearing Monday night before the Carbondale town judge did just that.

Municipal court is typically reserved for petty offenses and the lowest-level misdemeanors, the latter of which is the case involving Michael Francisco of Carbondale.

But many questions have been raised in the community about Francisco’s Christmas Eve 2020 arrest at the local City Market store after what’s been described as a finger-pointing incident — the intent of which his attorney says wasn’t threatening in any way.

There’s also the matter of Francisco’s skin color. He is Black.

And his head dress — he wears a rasta cap known as a “tam,” with his long dreadlocks tucked underneath. Francisco, 54, has a popular Reggae show on local radio station KDNK on Sundays.

“I do feel that, because of a person’s skin color or hair style, that sometimes judgments are made by people,” said Diana Alcantara, one of the many protesters who showed up outside Carbondale Town Hall in support of Francisco.

She and others carried signs reading, “Drop the Charges.”

Someone’s personal appearance can cause a “flash judgment,” she said. “I’ve done it, too. … We tend to jump right to being irrational, unless we have tools to calm ourselves down and stay open.”

The hearing inside Town Hall itself was pretty routine, but only 25 spectators and others on the evening docket were allowed in due to COVID-19 restrictions. Another 40 or so people mingled in the hallway or outside in a collective show of support.

Francisco came into what was the third hearing in the case still facing misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstruction.

His attorney, Michael Edminister, attempted to convince Municipal Court Judge John Collins and town prosecuting attorney Angela Roff that the charges should be dismissed.

“We believe there is sufficient information here to dismiss the charges,” Edminister said during the hearing.

Roff did not respond to Edminister’s suggestion, and the exchange turned toward several technical matters, including video surveillance and audio files that Edminister said he received from Roff but could not open.

For now, the case remains in the discovery stage, with certain evidence still forthcoming from City Market, including witness statements, internal reports and store policy around such incidents.

Francisco did not make any statements during the hearing. The attorneys agreed to a continuance in the case until April 12, and a plea has not yet been entered by Francisco.

The charges stem from an incident the evening of Dec. 24, 2020 at the Carbondale City Market, in which police contacted and arrested Francisco after a report from a fuel station attendant who said Francisco had pointed at her and made what she said was an “angry” facial expression upon leaving the gas station and entering the store. She indicated he may be a threat.

According to Edminister’s reading of the police account, instead of immediately presenting his driver’s license when asked by police to do so, Francisco questioned why he was being contacted by the police and things got heated.

“Before he knew it he was on the floor and handcuffed and dragged out of the store … a pretty excessive show of force for a guy who was just checking out with a couple of groceries,” Edminister said in an earlier interview with the Post Independent.

Some who showed up Monday in support of Francisco said it appears to them that the police may have overreacted.

“Michael is a very peaceful, amazing human being, and I’m hoping that he gets his truth told,” said Drea Marsh, a fellow KDNK DJ who trades off with Francisco on the air every week.

“If (the police) had the knowledge of who this person is in our community, maybe they would have made a different choice,” she said. “The force that was used on somebody in the middle of checking out with their groceries is upsetting.”

Diana Alcantara displays a sign outside the Carbondale Municipal Court hearing room at Town Hall Monday evening expressing her thoughts on the case against Michael Francisco.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Alcantara agreed.

“It seemed a little extreme for a 10-year resident of Carbondale, who I see often walking on Main Street and who’s on the radio. He’s not completely unknown.

“It just seems people immediately went to a high level of alert for no good reason,” she said. “It’s no one’s fault, but we have to own it … especially in these times right now. … It’s time for us to just calm down, make apologies when needed and do some deep work to heal.”


Aspen doctors help in $6M project to fight malaria in Zambia

Aspen Rotary members previously meet with the executive director of the Zambia Malaria Partners. From left are Don Wrigley, Aspen Rotary member; Martha Lungu, Zambia Malaria Partners director; Dr. Dan Perlman, Aspen Rotary; and Dr. Bob Porter, Aspen Rotary.

Two Aspen doctors are part of a greater $6 million project announced Tuesday to fight malaria in in Zambia and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International and World Vision.

Doctors Dan Perlman and Bob Porter have been helping the Aspen Rotary Club become more engage in malaria elimination as members on the board of Malaria Partners International, according to a news release from the nonprofit organization.

Porter and Perlman participated in a 2019 trip to Zambia to meet with local Rotarians and global health partners to identify opportunities to work on a larger scale to provide greater impact in the malaria fight.

“I’m so pleased to be a member of the Rotary Club of Aspen because not only do we support our local community, but we are also changing lives around the world,” Perlman said in the news release. “Through Rotary, people from right here in the Roaring Fork Valley are partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision to eradicate malaria halfway around the world.”

The goal of Partners for a Malaria-free Zambia is to strengthen the national health system by working with local health officials and health facility staff. Malaria is responsible for 50% of all infant deaths and 20% of all maternal deaths in Zambia, according to the organization.

Plans underway for slightly expanded service to Maroon Lake this year

The RFTA shuttle at the Maroon Bells will resume service for the 2021 season via reservations. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Providing vital public transportation to Maroon Lake this year is expected to require less of a public subsidy.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority estimates its bus service will be about $73,000 in the red this summer. Last year, the service required an estimated subsidy of $187,748.

RFTA and its partners anticipate providing bus service over a longer period, creating some new fares and selling more tickets because of an adjustment on bus capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the projected subsidy would be smaller.

“The current estimated cost of the Maroon Bells Shuttle for a 133-day season is $1,085,051,” said a memo from RFTA chief executive officer Dan Blankenship to the board of directors. “If ticket sales follow the trend set last year, with 20% more capacity per bus available, net ticket revenue to RFTA at the end of the season would be approximately $1,011,965 and the subsidy for the service would be approximately $73,086 or 7%.”

Blankenship warned that numerous factors could blow up the projections. Wildfires and road closures could prevent visitors from coming to the area. Last year, Interstate 70 was closed in Glenwood Canyon for two weeks because of the Grizzly Creek Fire. This year, floods and mudslides are a risk in the burn scar. Blankenship noted that a spike in COVID cases could also adversely affect demand.

On the other hand, buses are now allowed to operate up to 50% capacity, an increase from last summer. That will result in more tickets and more revenue.

The current plan is to start service June 7 and end Oct. 17 or 24. That would add at least two weeks onto last year’s operations.

The summer shuttle was started decades ago to limit personal vehicles at the Maroon Bells Scenic Area and spare the environment from illegal parking and pollution emissions. The service was in danger of being scrapped last summer due to the pandemic, but RFTA, the U.S. Forest Service, Pitkin County, city of Aspen and Aspen Chamber Resort Association teamed to implement a reservation system.

Masks and social distancing were required and will be again this year. A company called H2O Ventures was hired last summer to operate a reservation system. That will also be utilized again this summer.

The Forest Service receives 65 cents from each ticket sold; H2O Ventures receives $3.68 per ticket for running the reservation system.

The team is considering changes to the ticket prices this year. An adult ticket will be increased from $15.95 to $16. The adult round-trip, walk-up fare would be $20.

In addition, there will be a $10 one-way fare for passengers taking the bus downhill. That’s popular with hikers who travel over from Crested Butte or various trailheads in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Discounts are being contemplated for seniors and children 12 and younger.

A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for RFTA’s April 8 meeting. Blankenship will brief the board about the planned service at RFTA’s regular monthly meeting Thursday.


With options exhausted, Mulcahy starts moving out of Aspen housing

A U-Haul truck and trailer parked outside of 53 Forge Road in Burlingame Ranch wait to be filled with the Mulcahy’s belongings in Aspen on Monday, March 8, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

After a local District Court judge issued what amounts to an eviction notice Monday, former Aspen mayoral candidate Lee Mulcahy said he’s giving up his standoff with the local housing authority and leaving town.

“We got a U-Haul … and we’re loading it up,” Mulcahy told The Aspen Times on Monday. “We’re moving out as fast as we can. The city attorney has defeated us and I am going back home to be with family in Texas.”

Despite repeated threats that the standoff between Mulcahy, a local artist, and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority would end violently, Mulcahy said Monday that would not be the case.

“We are just trying to get out of here peacefully,” he said. “We will leave (the house) in tip-top shape and clean.”

Mulcahy’s departure from the home at 53 Forge Road in the Burlingame development that he and his late father built ends a more than five-year saga that began in 2015 when APCHA found he was out of compliance with rules stating that he must work 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.

That kicked off years of litigation with APCHA that has seen Mulcahy lose at the district court and the Colorado Court of Appeals, while the Colorado Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case and upheld previous decisions that Mulcahy violated the property’s deed restriction.

APCHA has owned the home since December, when a court-appointed receiver acting on behalf of Mulcahy closed on the property for $990,558. After a defiant Mulcahy continued to issue threats indicating he would not leave the property, APCHA filed an eviction proceeding in district court.

District Judge Chris Seldin issued a judgment Wednesday in the eviction case that said APCHA was entitled to the property, said Tom Smith, APCHA’s attorney. On Monday, Seldin issued what is known as a writ of restitution, which directed Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo to deliver possession of the property to the housing authority within 49 days, he said.

DiSalvo was allowed to use “coercive action” if necessary to take possession, Smith said.

The district court’s eviction action is sealed by law, so no court documents were publicly available Monday.

However, DiSalvo said Seldin called him last week and told him the eviction had been authorized.

“In my conversations with the judge, (he said) basically that the options are exhausted for appeal,” the sheriff said Monday. “That’s the first time I’ve heard the judge say something like that.”

DiSalvo said he’d spoken to Mulcahy, though he did not want to comment on the substance of those talks. He said he planned to give him “appropriate” time to pack up the approximately 2,000-square-foot home before taking any action.

“We had a civilized conversation about moving out,” he said. “I hope Lee complies. I have no reason to think he won’t.”

Mulcahy, who lost handily to Torre in the just-concluded Aspen mayoral race last week, said he will return to Fort Worth with his mother, Sandy Mulcahy, and doesn’t plan to return to Aspen. He might, however, return to the Roaring Fork Valley.

“I would guesstimate that we will build a cabin in Basalt,” Mulcahy said. “They have defeated me and my family. It’s pretty tough. But I think we are more Basalt people than Aspen people.”


Basalt girls basketball makes state for first time in 12 years, will play Lamar

From left, Basalt High School girls basketball players Gracie Reardon, Ava Lane and Riley Dolan pose during a boys basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, in Basalt. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

More than a decade since its last state tournament appearance, the Basalt High School girls basketball team is going dancing again.

The Colorado High School Activities Association announced the Class 3A state playoff bracket Monday, with the Longhorns drawing the No. 17 seed in the 24-team field and will face No. 16 seed Lamar on Tuesday night inside the Lamar Community Building.

“A few of them have been blowing up my phone today and you can tell they are excited. We get an overnight trip, which in the year of COVID is something that is very, very rare,” third-year Basalt coach Amy Contini said of her players. “A chance to be in a Sweet 16 is really awesome for the girls and a chance to play somebody who isn’t as close. The farthest we’ve really had to travel is only a few hours, so for the most part we’ve played teams within and around the valley.”

Lamar (10-2 overall) is located in the southeast corner of the state, not far from the Kansas border. Basalt will leave around 9 a.m. Tuesday for what looks to be a seven-hour bus ride, with game time tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.

For the Longhorns, this will be their first state playoff game since the 2008-09 season, which according to MaxPreps ended with a 47-27 first-round loss to Colorado Springs Christian. This was the end of a historic run for the program, which included a trip to the 3A state championship game in 2007, a 55-46 loss to Bishop Machebeuf. Contini’s predecessor as coach, Kat Fitzpatrick, was among the BHS stars during that time.

Basalt had one-win seasons in both 2011-12 and 2013-14 as the program fell fast from its glory days and has been rebuilding ever since. This year’s team, which includes a group of five seniors, was coming off a 9-10 season, its best mark since the 2007-08 campaign. This winter, the Longhorns are 9-3 overall after starting 8-0.

Senior Gracie Reardon again led BHS in scoring this season, averaging 13.9 points per game over the 12 contests. Senior Riley Dolan averaged 8.7 points per game this season, second on the team.

“For them to just take it up every single year and bring it up a notch and for them to get an opportunity to go to state is everything I could ask for,” Contini said. “And for these younger girls, I think it’s important they are seeing what we are building on and this is just the beginning of what we are trying to do with them.”

Lamar, which competes in the Class 3A Tri-Peaks League, is led by sophomore Abby Robbins, who in 12 games has averaged 14.8 points per contest along with 5.8 rebounds. The Savages’ only losses are to Colorado Springs Christian and to The Vanguard School, which is the top overall seed in the tournament. The Lamar-Basalt winner will play at No. 1 Vanguard in the round of 16 on Thursday.

“The Lamar girls look like they are going to be really good and they look like they are coached with energy. Their coach reminds me a lot of me running up and down the sidelines, so I’m really excited,” Contini said. “I love games like this. I love March Madness. This is what I grew up on. There is nothing that makes me more excited, honestly, seven-hour bus ride or not.”


The Drop-In: Finding the Phone of the Winds on Aspen Mountain

On this episode of The Drop-In, after an tip from an anonymous artist about a new addition to Aspen’s “shrines,“ Drop-In hosts Rose and Kelsey along with The Aspen Times Arts and Entertainment Editor Andrew Travers search for the Wind Phone on Aspen Mountain.

According to a sign posted with the instillation in the woods, “The Phone of the Winds is physically connected to nowhere. It is a portal where you can speak privately to whomever you wish, alive or deceased. … The project was inspired by the Phone of the Wind in Otsuchi, Japan, built in a hilltop garden above the sea by Itaru Sasaki to communicate with a dear deceased cousin. When the tsunami struck the region in 2011 and killed over 20,000 people, the wind phone became a way for survivors to connect with lost family members.”

Aspen Shortsfest announces 2021 program


What: Aspen Shortsfest

When: April 6-11

Where: aspenfilm.org

How much: $60/Five Program Pass; $150/Full Virtual Pass; $250/VIP Pass

Tickets: Festival passes on-sale now at aspenfilm.org; individual tickets on-sale March 22.

Aspen Film announced the program for its 30th annual Aspen Shortsfest on Monday. All-virtual for the second year in a row due to the novel coronavirus pandemic public health restrictions, the Oscar-qualifying festival will feature 80 short films online in 11 programs from April 6 to 11 through the digital platform Eventive.

“We are so proud to be presenting another incredible roster of films from around the globe for this year’s Shortsfest,” Aspen Film executive and artistic director Susan Wrubel said in an announcement. “While we are disappointed not to be able to traditionally hold our 30th anniversary at the historic Wheeler Opera House, this year we are presenting an exciting line up of interactive virtual events.”

The 80 announced titles include an eclectic mix of animation, comedy, documentary, drama and “short short,” made by a mix of filmmakers crossing the spectrum from students to established movie stars. The latter includes “David,” starring Will Ferrell in a short written and directed by “Silicon Valley” alum Zachary Woods; “Roborovski,” starring Dylan McDermott and co-directed by Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel; “Silverstone” directed by and starring “Ray Donovan” actor Kerris Dorsey; and “The Price of Cheap Rent” starring “Daily Show” alum Wyatt Cenac.

Though the pandemic largely shut down film production and theatrical distribution, Shortsfest received about 3,000 submissions for 2021. Aspen Film director Susan Wrubel said the festival received only about 100 less than for the pre-pandemic 2020 festival.

She credited the submissions to the ingenuity of independent filmmakers and to the prestige of Shortsfest.

“Part of the reason is that we’re one of only four Oscar qualifiers dedicated to shorts,” she said.

The festival qualifies winners for Academy Awards consideration in animation, documentary and live-action narrative film categories. Shortsfest’s prizes also include the Ellen Award, honoring the late Aspen Film founder Ellen Hunt, the Vimeo Staff Pick Award and Youth Jury Award.

Many in the lineup completed shooting before the pandemic struck, she said. In others, filmmakers worked with public health restrictions to shoot. And a handful of selections took up the pandemic as a subject.

The 2021 slate of films features six world premieres, three international premieres, seven North American premieres and 15 U.S. premieres from filmmakers representing 28 countries and 6 continents.

Of the 80 selected films, 55 are directed or co-directed by women. Notable among them is “Are You Still There?” directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, who in 2019 became the first Iranian woman to win an Oscar for the short documentary, “Period. End of Sentence.”

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating Aspen Shortsfest’s 30th birthday with such a stylistically diverse showcase of amazing new works by some of the most exciting emerging and established filmmakers from all over the world,” said Shortsfest director of programming Jason Anderson. “The 80 titles in this year’s program demonstrate the breadth, depth and incredible diversity of film talent that we have the privilege of introducing to our audience.”

Shortsfest was the first major Aspen event to go virtual last year, moving its in-person program from the Wheeler Opera House to an online platform in the early days of the pandemic. Aspen Film has since hosted regular screenings and events online, in addition to a hybrid online/in-person Aspen FIlmfest in the fall and drive-in movie events in summer 2020.

For the second iteration of the all online Shortsfest, Aspen Film and Eventive will host films along with nightly livestreamed filmmaker Q&A sessions.

In addition, the festival is hosting an expanded virtual experience for filmmakers, VIP and full passholders. It will allow particpants to virtually navigate downtown Aspen for daily Sip & Chat Industry Conversation & Mingling Sessions and to make virtual visits to the Aspen Art Museum for meet-and-greets, the Hotel Jerome for the Filmmaker Lounge, and the Red Brick Center for the Arts for classes and at an education hub. A virtual Wheeler Opera House will be the portal to enter the festival’s Eventive screening platform.

“We are creating a little bit of a virtual village with a digital map of Aspen,” Wrubel said. “Guests can enter and interact, and we’ll have rooms with eight people at a virtual table to meet and discuss.”

The 2021 jury deciding award winners includes Shortsfest alum Meryam Joobeur, the Tunisian-American director who received an Oscar-nomination for Best Live Action Short Film for “Brotherhood;” United Talent Agency agent Keya Khayatian; and Rachel Rosen, a San Francisco Bay Area-based independent film programmer and awards consultant who is currently a member of the selection committee for The New York Film Festival.

The festival will include an Industry Program of virtual panels, including sessions on RED digital cameras and sound design among other topics.

Anderson also will host a conversation with award-winning filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green, the Shortsfesst alum behind “Monsters & Men” and the forthcoming “Joe Bell,” on the evening of April 10.

Passes are on sale now at aspenfilm.org. Individual program tickets will go on sale March 22.

The full list of 2021 Shortsfest selections:


When Syrian architect Mohamad Hafez got trapped in the United States, he realized if he couldn’t return home, he could make home. A skilled architectural model-maker, he spent his years in exile sculpting life-like renditions of his Damascus neighborhood. When the civil war broke out and his parents fled to the United States as refugees, Mohamad’s bottled-up frustration erupted on his models. In a fit of mania, he broke his artworks, leaving them shattered, bombed-out replicas of the Syrian buildings he saw on the news. (Jimmy Goldblum, USA, Lebanon, 20MIN)


In a kingdom tormented by fashion crazes, a queen and her court must always keep up with the new trend. If not, an abominable monster will consume them: the Ridicule. (Jean Lecointre, France, 9MIN)


A dog gets abandoned on the side of the road. Attached to a streetlight, he stays alone until the day he meets a young astronaut wannabe and a professional cyclist who keeps on trying to beat her highest score. With spring as a backdrop, we wanted to use moments of simple lives to discover little stories that intertwine with each other. A microcosm that settles on a split-screen where the different characters evolve at the same time. (Sylvain Cuvillier, Chloe Bourdic, Theophile Coursimault, Noemie Halberstam, Maylis Mosny, Zijing Ye, France, 8MIN)


How many obsessions can one family have? In Joanna Quinn and Les Mills’ AFFAIRS OF THE ART, we reconnect with Beryl, the working-class heroine who not only reveals her own obsession with drawing but exposes the addictions of her eccentric family, which include pickling, screw threads and pet taxidermy. (Joanna Quinn, UK, Canada, 16MIN) U.S. PREMIERE

In a cotton-farming village in Sudan, 15-year-old Nafisa has a crush on Babiker, but her parents have arranged her marriage to Nadir, a young Sudanese businessman living abroad. Nafisa’s grandmother Al-Sit, the powerful village matriarch, has her own plans for Nafisa’s future. But can Nafisa choose for herself? (Suzannah Mirghani, Sudan, Qatar, 20MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE


Alejandra is a criminalized organizer and unapologetic immigrant. While she prepares for one of the biggest events of her life — her deportation case — Alejandra is forced to reckon with a past mistake and a system that threatens to deport her and give her life an unexpected direction. She is up against an unjust system that threatens to tear her apart from her family and displace her from the only home she has ever known. This is her fight to be free. (Maya Cueva, USA, 17MIN)


Aniksha is a young woman from the Indo-Mauritian diaspora. After her arranged marriage, she finds a job at a call centre, a booming industry in Mauritius. There she encounters her enigmatic supervisor and discovers a world of possibilities. This new world view places Aniksha between the choice of tradition or of a modern lifestyle. (Vincent Toi, Canada, 20MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


On a hot day in the valley, Safa’s car battery dies, leaving her stranded in a strip mall parking lot. As she waits for help to arrive, she’s forced to confront her new reality. When her mom finally comes to her rescue that night, the two struggle to jump-start a car for the first time. (Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, USA, 15MIN)


Mountain biker and artist Jill Kintner brings her character drawings to life as they race down Bandit Hill to outrun an onslaught of angry clouds and terribly-behaving weather. Full of mud monsters, happy trees, and fluffy clouds oozing personality, the trio of Squirrel, Fox, and Snail look to Jill to save them from the storm! This magical, hybrid animation and live action piece brings together one of the world’s top mountain bikers with a far-away land pulled straight out of her imagination. (Scotty Carlson, USA, 4MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


At fifteen, Milagros’ world still revolves around her mother’s affection. This summer an unexpected encounter with death will make her question their relationship and her own existence. (Mariana Saffon, Colombia, USA, 20MIN)


The sequel to the viral short film MARATHON, BLACK BODIES follows a black man (Komi Olaf) lamenting as he comes face-to-face with the realities of being black in the 21st century. (Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, Canada, 5MIN)


After his father gets into a fight at a bowling alley, Darious begins to investigate the limitations of his own manhood. (Miles Warren, USA, 10MIN)


On a thriving insect farm in the small town of LaBelle, Florida, four women from distinctly different backgrounds come together to raise and produce hundreds of thousands of roaches, crickets, and superworms. In this warm, relaxed portrait of womanhood and work, the farm serves as the background to women who’ve come to insect farming with disparate motivations–including economic opportunity, reimagining the future of food, and the love and caretaking of the bugs themselves. (Lydia Cornett, USA, 14MIN)


This is the story of a close-knit group of Guatemalans living and working in a small Rocky Mountain town. It centers on two boys–one a new arrival, the other preparing to leave–and details the handoff of place and purpose between the two. It is a story of hope, home, and friendship in a strange place. (Max Walker-Silverman, USA, Guatemala, 16MIN)


Akanksha, a young immigrant (originally from India but who grew up in Saudi Arabia) is dog sitting Timothee, the baby Frenchie of Instagram influencers India and Harry, while they’re on a trip to India. Akanksha’s sister is scheduled to visit her soon—they haven’t seen each other in nine years. While she waits, Akanksha bonds with Timothee, enjoys the spoils of white money, engages in judgy hijinks with her friend Sophia, and muses over why she stays away from her home country. (Akanksha Cruczynski, USA, 14MIN) WORLD PREMIERE


David Needs Help. So Does David. (Zach Woods, USA, 11MIN)

death. everything. nothing.

In death. everything. nothing. LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant leans into her newfound role as grieving daughter, and uses maternal loss to capture the heartache, uncertainty, and inevitability of death’s grip on human life. In so doing, she reveals the real but unsettling dynamics of confronting parental death when separated by distance, time, and a global pandemic. (LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant, USA, 6MIN)


Set in 2007, Alex is a 20-year-old double above the knee amputee and competitive swimmer. He also has a huge crush on Jen, the swim coach at the local pool who secretly likes him back. When Jen tries to ask Alex out, he falters and causes an awkward encounter. Humiliated, Alex asks his friends for advice, only for them to steal his phone and send her a raunchy text message. Mortified, Alex must get to her phone before she sees the message or risk losing her forever. (Adam Bowes, Nina Oyama, Australia, 9MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE


Soon to leave her British boarding school and enter the working world, a young Black woman faces pressure to change her name and natural hairstyle. (Ethosheia Hylton, UK, 20MIN)


A story of a little girl having nightmares and a monster eating only happy dreams. (Min-jeong JO, South Korea, 11MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


Carina is a real estate agent in Beirut. Finding it hard to reach out to clients, she spends her time in empty apartments that feed her sexually dissatisfied life. After a long day of waiting without clients showing up, Carina decides to rent intimacy for a night. (Remi Itani, Lebanon, UK, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


In an abandoned warehouse, a crowd is dancing as one on 145 BPM techno music. Among them is Dustin, a young transgender individual, and crew: Felix, Raya and Juan. As the night draws on, collective hysteria morphs into sweet melancholy, and euphoria into yearning for tenderness. (Naïla Guiguet, France, 20MIN)


What did the first lockdown look like from a window in the residential towers of East London in the spring of 2020? E14 shows serious shifts in the everyday coordinate system of a privileged urban population at an immediate level. While exploring the trauma, the film captures the mundane and ironic realities of living in a heavily developed, man-made environment, and questions whether a new virus is about to develop. (Peiman Zekavat, UK, 19MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE



After a late-night high school graduation party, Chantal and Delphine find themselves walking home alone in the dark. Lost in the forest, their long night walk is punctuated by carelessness and an irrepressible desire to exist. (Katerine Martineau, Canada, 17MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


After she had not been invited to her sister’s wedding, Aya, a trans woman, shows up by surprise on a Shabbat night at the Orthodox Jewish community, where her family lives. She enters through the window, interrupting the wedding feast and threatening to reveal family lies and secrets. (Bar Choen, Israel, 22MIN) INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE


A slice of life film set in the Bronx, New York—IN SUDDEN DARKNESS follows the life of the Moores, a working-class Black family trying to stay afloat in the midst of the city-wide blackout. Searching for solutions to cope, the family descends directly into the darkness and chaos. With the heat causing frustrations to run high, how do the Moores and their community come together in the face of the unknown? (Tayler Montague, USA, 13MIN)


A woman returns to a familiar harbor in a struggle to reclaim her lost memories. (Ryan De Franco, Matthew Mendelson, Italy, USA, 5MIN) WORLD PREMIERE


My mother’s dreams have always been strong premonitions for important moments in my life. I rely on her dreams more than any religion. (Kim Kang-min, Republic of Korea, 9MIN)


Mabuhay! Welcome to Learning Tagalog With Kayla. Kayla is pleased to teach you the basics of Tagalog, the language of her homeland. In this lesson, we’ll start with conversational phrases and common expressions. If time permits, we may even get into Kayla’s newfound hobby of baking, hatred of exercise, occasional disdain for her cats, and her affinity for Vivi, a black mage with a heart of gold from the popular role-playing game, Final Fantasy IX. (Kayla Abuda Galang, USA, 4MIN)


From her train window, Sarah watches a man standing on an empty and strange platform. She hopes to see his face to no avail. Then, watching again and again through her microscope, she dives into the purple cells shaking on her hematology strip. These cells bring her to this train, her inner world, where she can hear. Because Sarah is deaf. But Sarah is about to have surgery. For the first time, she will be able to hear what the real world sounds like. (Aline Magrez, Belgium, 25MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE


December 24, 1983, 10:50 p.m.; Julie’s whole family is gathered once again this year for Christmas Eve. All except Denis, her father, newly excluded by his divorce. Julie, 8 years old, waits for Santa Claus to arrive to unwrap her presents, while Denis, parked in front of the house, waits until the agreed time to come and pick up his children. He’s ready to do anything to get his half of Christmas, but he still doesn’t know the emotional trenches that a return to his ex-in-law’s family will entail. Constrained by her parents’ clumsy planning, Julie must choose between the painful reality of her father’s life and the magic of the holiday. It is a dramatic comedy about a father-daughter relationship; an early coming-of-age that is as squeaky as it is poetic. (Annie St-Pierre, Canada, 18MIN)


A factotum in a wedding dress shop searches for the love of her life, and a road busker who loses his speaker looks for his lost voice. In their quest for love and the voice that has been lost, the characters appear abruptly between different dimensions. They travel through tragedy, reality, weirdness, and different spaces in the same city. (Vũ Minh Nghĩa, Phạm Hoàng Minh Thy, Vietnam, 20MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


After 8- year-old Juwon gets removed from Bible class by her Sunday school teacher, she follows an Agama Lizard into the bowels of the “Heaven’s Gate” Mega Church. Her journey into the labyrinth exposes the financial inner workings and the hidden activities behind the scenes. Plunging her deeper until she is confronted by a spellbinding sermon and a congregation worshipping in a hypnotised frenzy. Magical interactions with an alarmingly larger Lizard and a sturdy gateman serve as metaphors for the preceding incidents. As her family proceeds to leave the Church, they are intercepted by the dramatic confrontation with a gang of holy armed robbers. (Akinola Davies Jr., Nigeria, UK, 18MIN)


An awkward family reunion at a business/karaoke dinner leads a Chinese mother to realize the consequences of leaving her daughter in the care of an American homestay family. (Johnson Cheng, USA, 15MIN)


Brought by the waves of the sea, a fantastic being of gigantic size discovers a pleasant place of great natural beauty, and makes it his home, becoming the guardian and soul of the place. There, he meets a cheerful little boy with whom he creates a bond of friendship forged in sharing the pleasure that both feel in living in harmony with nature. But one day, peace is threatened by a polluting and noisy tide. (Joana Rosa Bragança, Portugal, 15MIN)


In the last weeks of being high school students, Cas and Naomi, both out of the closet, prefer to spend their days together. As “brother and sister” of other parents, they experience a security and love that they cannot find elsewhere. But when their future plans seem to drive them apart, their relationship will be put at risk and the affectionate Cas must dare to be alone. (Vincent Tilanus, The Netherlands, 19MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


Babz Dubreuil, a lonely but endearing ex-convict, works as a cook in a suburban brunch restaurant. Despite her civilized conduct, she struggles to regain her place in society. Under the encouragement of an outrageous colleague, she finds the courage to ask an attractive customer to go on a date with her. It might be the beginning of redemption. (Zoé Pelchat, Canada, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


A troubled teenage girl is coerced into seeing a local shaman in search of spiritual healing. Trapped by ancient beliefs that serve only to pacify her mother, she finds peace in the physical realm by unleashing her repressed, youthful spirit on the unsuspecting shaman when she realises his true identity. A coming-of-age tale set in contemporary Mongolia. (Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, Mongolia, UK, 13MIN)


Alatha’s father calls himself a ‘Mover.’ Using African electronic Gqom beats he motivates kids in Khayelitsha, South Africa to jive through their hardship and find their superpowers. But while he’s transformed the lives of many kids in his community, his own daughter, Alatha, is still looking for freedom. In an intimate moment together, this is all about to change… (Julia Jansch, South Africa, 13MIN)


At the time of the attack of the Mongols, a young musician and the love of his life are separated from each other. Fifty years later, the musician is summoned to perform at the castle of the Mongols where his beloved is being held. (Reza Riahi, France, 15MIN)


A woman who can’t stand the passing of time turns herself into a black hole. A thousand unchanging years pass inside her warm and dark embrace until, finally, the Singularity awakens inside. An immovable woman meets an unstoppable girl in this epic 2D/3D space opera about the meaning of transience and letting go. (Renee Zhan, UK, 16MIN)


After losing his best friend, an elderly pug named Henry must depend on his owner for help and companionship. Writer/director Ann Marie Fleming (Window Horses) makes visible the tender work of caretaking in her new animated short, OLD DOG. All dogs (and people) should be so lucky and so loved. (Ann Marie Fleming, Canada, 3MIN)


This is a visual poem created by over 20 animation directors under the artistic supervision of Simone Giampaolo, which gives shape and colour to the original words spoken by Severn Suzuki at the UN Summit in Rio in 1992, a child’s desperate call to action for the future of our planet. An omnibus film celebrating the environmental youth movement 30 years in the making. (Simone Giampaolo, Switzerland, 6MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


A young girl has an earth-shattering realization that her father is not invincible, after a cricket accident exposes his vulnerability. (Anna Rose Duckworth, New Zealand, 9MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE


A naïve American woman journeys to an artist farm commune in the south of France seeking solace from her loneliness. But without the ability to speak French, Eleanore struggles to connect with her new community. She is taken under the wing of Sophie, a choreographer and lead gardener at the chateau. Eleanore grows romantic feelings for Sophie, whose confidence and charisma are what Eleanore longs for. When those feelings aren’t reciprocated, Eleanore must face the ultimate purpose of her trip and come to terms with being alone. PLAISIR (French word for pleasure) is a tender comedy of errors and a queer story of unrequited love. Through Eleanore’s journey, we learn that wherever you go- there you are. (Molly Gillis, France, 19MIN)


The devastating effects of climate change are beginning to impact every person on earth. From wildfires to hurricanes, rising temperatures to landslides, we are learning to adapt to a new normal, one where we must confront what we truly value and how we cope with loss. Through the lens of the recent fires in California, PROOF OF LOSS focuses on how one young woman and her father are forced to come together and examine the complexities of mourning and the connection between grief, relief, and survival. (Katherine Fisher, USA, 13MIN)


A young girl in her age of innocence discovers Rehak, a magical drawing hidden behind her bedroom wall. (Pierre B, UK, France, 7MIN)


Renaidance is a 3D narrative emotional animation. The theme invigorates cultural inheritance and the integration of dreams, courage, and culture as transformation. By artistically interpreting a motif of inheritance and family support, integrating different cultures “inheritance” through the inspiring story, this film braces strong family love and elder culture in a never-ending chain. (Zhike Yang, Wenjie Wu, Han Chen Chang, China, Taiwan, USA, 4MIN)


This short follows the eponymous thimble sized hamster who spends his days in Marvin’s Pet Shop, hoping to find a family. However, when he is constantly overlooked by the people and animals around him, his seething resentment and intense jealousy soon take hold, and a murderous side of little Roborovski is released. (Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Dev Patel, Australia, 15MIN) INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE


A family weekend in the family house. The men of the family are self-satisfied and the women are efficient. There’s no reason for changing the order of things. Yet, one of the uncles of the family has a new wife who might stir up trouble. (Sophie Beaulieu, France, 15MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE


Filmed on a bullet train from Nagoya to Kyoto in Japan while Stubbs was on a school trip, the time lapsed poetry and video work present a look into the thoughts of a young woman on the brink of adulthood. The work was created by the artist while she was mourning the death of her grandmother, confronting her own morality and the speed at which she approaches her future. The viewer is made to long for the comfort and familiarity of youth, while acknowledging the inevitability of growth and moving forward despite fear of the unknown. (Siena Stubbs, Australia, 3MIN)


Nine-year-old Bahar recently lost her ability to hear. Due to lack of resources in the village, she is omitted from school. This feeling of alienation is the beginning of a series of desperate acts culminating in an attempt to cure herself. (Brwa Vahabpour, Norway, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


Anna and Daniel are members of a successful band, Silvertone, making the follow-up to their hit debut record. They (with a little help from their label) set up at a house in the Hills to try and write the perfect song. But the pressure of a sophomore album and their own complicated history cast a big shadow. Soon, Anna and Daniel’s competing creative processes lead to a disconnect that threatens their relationship and art. (Kerris Dorsey, USA, 10MIN) WORLD PREMIERE


While out for drinks, a couple finds themselves in an intellectual discussion of how they feel about each other. Their clinical honesty is contrasted by the restaurant’s massive mural of open waters behind them that begins to sway and build to crashing waves that start to reflect their emotional reality. (Sasha Leigh Henry, Canada, 13MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


Once Abeer, a young woman living in NYC, realizes that her new roommate won’t provide a sofa to their empty living room, she becomes obsessed. Abeer embarks on a journey between NYC’s quirkiest characters and would do anything for the desired piece of furniture. SOFA SO GOOD stars NYC finest comedians (Nataly Aukar, Tom Thakkar), alongside Hiam Abbass (Succession), and is a funny-touching story about holding on and letting go. (Noa Osheroff, USA, 12MIN)


A New York artist’s obsession makes her the leader of a squirrel war on Facebook. The pressure cooker of quarantine mixed with the polarization of politics intensifies the ire of squirrel lovers everywhere. (Jill Morley, USA, 9MIN) WORLD PREMIERE


This short dramatic film is about a father who tells the story of his relationship with his bodybuilding son. Set entirely in a gym, the film begins with a father as he watches his son perform a variety of bodybuilding exercises. As the father watches, he narrates his relationship with his son, and critiques aspects of his life, such as his body, his marital status, and his obsession with working out. The father is also seen helping the son workout. The film ends with both father and son leaving the gym together, as the father explains that he is old, weak, and alone, and his son has to be, and stay strong in order to take care of him. (Ian Bawa, Canada, 4MIN) INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE

SUMMER SHADE (צל בקיץ)

Exploring true events of discrimination against women in Israel, Summer Shade offers a slice-of-life insight into an Israeli hot summer day. Gal, a 13-year-old adventurous girl wanders alone towards her favorite relaxing summer spot, the magical refreshing pond nearby her house. Shortly after her arrival, a group of ultra-orthodox Hassidic teenagers violently try to kick her out, threatened by her femininity. (Shira Haimovici, UK, Israel, 15MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


“I could have been there with her…”

Two sisters entwined by love. When Annie disappears, her younger sister, Natalie, seeks her out in an unconventional way: as a thanadoula, accompanying the dying in their final stages. Between their slow and final breaths, Natalie finds a bridge between life and death and ultimately, a pathway to her sister. (Robin McKenna, Canada, 6MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


Sofia is panicky, again. The Universe decides to contact her. An otherworldly dialogue. A planet symphony for Mars, where people dream awake and fight for love. (Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece, 15MIN)


Based on the ancient animistic beliefs and shamanic rituals in Mongolia and Siberia, the film explores the indigenous worldview and wisdom: Nature is the homeland of human being, Tengri is the deity and the father sky, Earth is the mother with rivers nourishing all beings, pagan and pantheist gods co-exist with all mortals. Against the backdrop of the modern existential crisis and the human-induced rapid environmental change, there is a necessity to reclaim the ideas of animism for planetary health and non-human materialities. (Alisi Telengut, Canada, 8MIN)


In the voiceover for this animated short, a young woman attempts to describe herself, casting her life in the ideal light that society expects. The film’s imagery, however, tells a different story, poignantly illustrating the intense anxiety that comes with the quest for perfection and the pursuit of happiness. A film that’s both funny and moving, and above all, profoundly human. (Catherine Lepage, Canada, 5MIN)


A documentary short, following five women as they fight for their children through the cycle of homelessness, drug addictions and neglect from their own parents. Unique, yet undoubtedly familiar to many; a story on fear, sacrifice and the unconditional love between a mother and her children. (Savanah Leaf, Taylor Russell, USA, 28MIN)


A retired Hong Kong hitman, A Hoi, and his senile Mother live a mundane life on the rustic Grass Island near the Hong Kong/China border. One day, A Hoi’s Chinese apprentice, Xiaoma, arrives in disguise, tasked to kill A Hoi for his unresolved feud with her triad boss. Rather than engaging in violence with his apprentice, A Hoi invites her to have dinner with him and Mother. (Linhan Zhang, USA, Hong Kong, 13MIN)


Lucho, a 13-year-old trans boy, doesn’t usually share much time with his father Daniel. When he goes on holiday with him and his younger sister to the beach, to a house in which they haven’t been for some time, the memories this environment brings, and the new closeness between them, put their already tense relationship to the test. This is a portrait of the challenge of dealing with fears while trying to rebuild a bond with love. (Martina Matzkin, Argentina, 13MIN)


Oskar is on the night train, heading home after an interview in Stockholm. With a long night ahead of him, he makes eye contact with Ahmad. For the first time he meets the gaze of someone who feels the same desire as he does. (Jerry Carlsson, Sweden, 15MIN) NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE


A NYC transplant and aspiring artist speaks to a documentary crew about her struggles finding an affordable home in her dream city, while being true to herself as an artist. Now that she’s finally found what seemed like the perfect studio apartment, she’s dealing with the supernatural price of cheap rent. Blending the styles of documentary filmmaking and internet profile pieces, this mini mockumentary pokes fun at aspirational living, using humor to reflect on the economic and ethical challenges for Black millennials in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. (Amina Sutton, Maya Tanaka, USA, 7MIN)


A couple, struggling with their relationship, finds their frustrations manifesting in a defective recorder. In an attempt to restore peace in their relationship and replace the faulty recorder, they encounter a woman offering to sell them a new recorder, but the transaction proves more challenging than expected. (Justine Lupe, USA, 10MIN) WORLD PREMIERE


A hungry fox hunts for food on a cold winter night. On the edge of the forest he discovers a small farm. He sneaks closer to steal some food, unaware of the Tomten who guards the farm, and is caught red-handed in the hen-coop. When the Tomten sees how hungry the fox is, he decides to share his Christmas porridge with him, as long as the fox promises to leave the animals alone. (Yaprak Morali, Are Austnes, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, 9MIN)


Facing the climate crisis, Louise, a philosophy teacher, turns words into action. (Alexandre Isabelle, Canada, 13MIN) WORLD PREMIERE


You fly with no seat! That’s the rule in the Turbobus. To get one is a hard day job for a young wolf on his turbo-journey to find real friendship. (Verena Fels, Germany, 8MIN)


A brother and sister walk along, each carrying a tree in a small pot. When they come across a parrot and a fallen statue, they each have to choose their own journey. (Emmanuel Ollivier, France, 4MIN) U.S. PREMIERE


In Brazil, where a trans person is murdered every three days, Marilene searches for her daughter Roberta, a trans woman who went missing. While running out of time, she discovers a hope for the future. (Matheus Farias, Enock Carvalho, Brazil, 20MIN)


After his mother dies, Adam comes across some letters exchanged years ago between his Polish mother and his father, a Kurd living in Iraq. This is an opportunity for him to find out more about his father, whom he never knew. The juxtaposition of animated drawings and archival material takes us back forty years into the past and enables us not only to feel the emotions linking the lovers living in different parts of the world, but also to uncover an extraordinary family secret. (Katarzyna Warzecha, Poland, 11MIN)


In 2017, Lee Kim found herself on the subway wearing a small hat she made from pipe cleaners, an oddity that could easily pass unnoticed in New York. Instead, Lee was overwhelmed and quite uncomfortable with the number of strangers who commented on it. Rather than put that day behind her, she decided to lean into the uncomfortable and create a new pipe cleaner hat each day, inviting this engagement. More than 1,000 days later and in the midst of the pandemic, Lee’s experiment in human connection continues to evolve. (Emily McAllister, USA, 12MIN)


Every night at 6 p.m., detained immigrants are legally released from a for-profit ICE facility onto unfriendly, industrial streets near Denver, Colorado. The men and women, most of them asylum-seekers, have little idea where they are and have nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Welcome Strangers tells the story of Sarah Jackson, a young woman who searches the streets for these immigrants and invites them into her home. She and a team of volunteers greet them with compassion and provide them with shelter, clothing and help them reunite with their families. (Dia Sokol Savage, USA, 21MIN)


Amidst a racially tense wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black father after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform. (Melody C. Roscher, USA, 10MIN)


Sara is in bed with her lover when she gets a phone call from her husband, Josh. He is on a business trip in Wichita, and needs a business card from his sock drawer. But Sara is not at their house, so she only has a few minutes to race home before he catches on. To stall for time, she asks a million questions about Wichita, Kansas. “What’s Cowtown like? Did you see Kirstie Alley’s house? And Pizza Hut? Didn’t that start there too?” (Sergine Dumais, USA, 6MIN)


Wirun is a beautiful short about a Noongar high school student who affirms her ancestral knowledge while navigating growing up in anglo-Australia. As Erin dedicates herself to learning Shakespeare’s sonnet 127 she struggles to remember the lines and make sense of the antique language. She feels ostracised by her peers for her cultural differences despite her commitment to learning her part. After struggling with memorization into the night Erin reaches a significant turning point. At school the next day she blows her class away with her performance. (Chad O’Brien, Australia, 9MIN)


A lonely old man pays a visit to Yoruga, one of the last animals on Earth. (Federico Torrado Tobón, USA, Colombia, 6MIN)