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Watch This: The Oscar-Qualifying Aspen Shortsfest Goes Online

A widow goes to a dominatrix class. (And, yes, that is Rachel Dratch from SNL).
A widow goes to a dominatrix class. (And, yes, that is Rachel Dratch from SNL).
"Marcy Learns Something New," by Julia Kennelly.

This year, Aspen Film's 29th annual Aspen Shortsfest was headed for the list of COVID-19 cancellations.

“We were crushed to cancel the 29th edition of Shortsfest in the wake of COVID-19. But for the safety and health of the community, knew there was no alternative,” says Aspen Film Executive and Artistic Director Susan Wrubel.

But then the festival found a workaround. By partnering with the Paris-based on-demand festival streaming service Festival Scope, Aspen Film is able to host the Shortsfest online, without disqualifying the shorts for Oscar nominations, one of the perks of being accepted into the festival.

The Aspen Shortsfest will be the first festival that will be presented in its entirety on Festival Scope’s platform.

The six-day celebration, scheduled for March 31 through April 5, will be available to viewers as a limited-time event, just like the traditional festival. Viewers will be able to purchase one-time-use access codes for individual programs or passes for the entire festival.

Access will be limited to viewers in the United States, and films will be screened within curated programs, not individually.

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“We couldn’t be more excited about the films selected for this year’s program,” says Shortsfest programming director Jason Anderson. “We believe these are some of the most compelling, innovative, beautiful, hilarious and emotionally resonant films that our amazingly generous audience in Aspen will experience this year — we’re thrilled to showcase such an abundance of emerging and established filmmaking talent from all over the world. That’s why we’re so happy to have this opportunity to present them, despite the very challenging circumstances that surround all of us right now.”

Recent Shortsfest Oscar success stories include four 2019 Oscar short-film nominees: "Brotherhood," "NEFTA Football Clu," "Life Overtakes Me" and "Sister."

This year, the festival will screen a total of 58 shorts.

Access codes will be on sale from March 24 through April 5. Individual programs are $10 ($7.50 for Aspen Film members); a festival pass for all nine programs is $75 ($60 for Aspen Film members). There will also be a limited number of student tickets available at $5 per program or $45 for the full festival, with a special code available to schools. Each festival program is limited to 500 viewers. Purchase tickets online through the Wheeler Opera House or call 970-920-5770. When purchasing tickets online, patrons can also donate to Aspen Film's filmmaker fund.

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