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Nerds are great. Not pocket-protector-sporting nerds, but those colorful little candies that are so addictive. Gobstoppers are good, too, but sometimes they require too much investment. When you need a variety of small satisfactions, you should definitely think Nerds. The Aspen ShortsFest took a similar smaller-is-better notion to heart: Beginning today and continuing through April 6, the Academy Award-qualifying festival will showcase 53 short films that include live action, animation and documentary formats. Additionally, after each set of screenings, up-and-coming filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions. "This is a festival to discover talent before it breaks," says executive director Laura Thielen. "It's also about artist-audience interaction. It's wonderful to be able to interact with the filmmakers."

Shorts run anywhere from two to 33 minutes and include everything from the portrait of an eccentric farmer and his sheep to an animated penguin and a polar bear having tea and biscuits. Special events include three afternoon presentations: "Master Class With Bill Plympton," "Lights, Camera, Kids" and "British Shorts Panorama," as well as "Real Shorts" — back-to-back screenings of Academy Award-nominated films Freeheld and La Corona (The Crown). A jury will award up to $20,000 in cash and prizes.

Most programs will be held at the Wheeler Opera House, 320 East Hyman Avenue in Aspen (some additional screenings will take place at the Crystal Theatre, 427 Main Street in Carbondale). Tickets are $12 general admission. For details, including locations and showtimes, reel over to or call 1-970-920-5770.
April 2-6, 2008


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