Aspen Shortsfest looks long on foreign entries

Festival will focus on Pixar, Andreef, Mambety

An eclectic group of international filmmakers will converge on Aspen, Colo., April 5-9 for the ninth annual Aspen Shortsfest. More than 50 short comedy, drama, documentary and animation films from 15 countries will compete for $20,000 in cash and other awards. One-third of the films in competition will be screened in Aspen for the first time anywhere.

“This is a global phenomenon, attracting talent from around the world of traditional filmmaking, as well as commercials and musicvideos,” said fest exec director Laura Thielen.

Jury members including Brit helmer Jon Amiel (“The Singing Detective”) and producer Jack Lechner (head of Radical Media’s motion picture division) will judge entries such as Aussie actress Rachel Ward’s directorial debut, “Blindman’s Bluff”; Gregory Cooke’s “$30,” starring Sara Gilbert; and some of this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts.

Vying online

Shortsfest will include an online competition in partnership with Film.com. “With next generation entertainment developments on the Internet reaching out to young, visually oriented audiences, shorts are defining a vibrant new future for themselves,” Thielen said.

Special Shortsfest sidebar events include a salute to Pixar, Director Spotlight, Planet Cinema and the Festival Lounge.

On April 9, Pixar supervising animator Glenn McQueen will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the animation house behind “A Bug’s Life” and the “Toy Story” films, among others.

This year’s Director Spotlight will honor Oz-based helmer-scripter Christina Andreef (who’s also a jury member) with screenings of three of her shorts as well as a special unspooling of her debut feature, “Soft Fruit,” exec produced by Oscar-winning helmer-scripter Jane Campion (“The Piano”).

Planet Cinema explores a particular national cinema or a moment in film history that auds might not otherwise have a chance to see. This year, on April 5, the work of Senegalese helmer Djibril Diop Mambety will be showcased.

Tickets will be available through the Wheeler Opera House box office in Aspen and Sounds Easy in Carbondale beginning Wednesday. For ticket info call (970) 920-5770. For a schedule, visit http://www.aspenfilm.org or call (910) 925-6882.

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