Columbia Filmmakers Head to Aspen Shortsfest 2019

March 15, 2019

This year, four films by Columbia students and alumni will head to the 28th annual Aspen Shortsfest, which will run from April 2-7, 2019.


Still from Alien Culture

Still from Alien Culture, image courtesy of Aspen Shortsfest


Among the films is Alien Culture, a film written and directed by alumnus Iesh Thapar ’17 and produced by creative producing alumna Sarah Seulki Oh '15. The film will have its international premiere at Aspen. Alien Culture is set in West London in 1979. Margaret Thatcher is in power and racial tensions are running high in the UK. Lucky (28), a second-generation British Indian, thinks his younger brother, Sunny (17), is getting bullied by skinheads. When he finds out the truth is far from what he expected, he’s forced to cope with new filial responsibilities, rethink his priorities and question his own insular views about the world he occupies.


Alien Culture will show in Program One, Tuesday April 2nd, at 8:00pm.


Still from Kanari

Still from Kanarí, image courtesy of Stockfish Film Festival


Kanarí, directed and co-written by alumnus Erlendur Sveinsson ’18, co-written by current student Connor Simpson, co-produced by alumnus Daniel Raiffe ‘18, and edited by current student by current student Brúsi Ólason is also showing at the festival. Kanarí follows a couple, Vala and Benni as they leave Reykjavik for a simpler life in the countryside. On the road, they struggle to find a common ground about what their future holds. Their journey comes to a violent stop when they get into a head-on collision with another car. Vala must find a way out of the wreckage and come to grips with what has happened. 


Kanarí was also recently shortlisted for the Shortfish award at the Stockfish Film Festival in Iceland.


Kanarí will show in Program Two, Wednesday April 3rd, at 5:15pm.


Still from God Never Dies

Still from Dios Nunca Muere (God Never Dies), image courtesy of CUFF


Dios Nunca Muere (God Never Dies) is also showing. The film was directed by written alumna Barbara Cigarroa ’18, and alumni Emre Gulcan ’17 and Julie O’Leary ’16 both collaborated on the story. Dios Nunca Muere follows Paula, a Mexican farmworker, living in hidden America, as she struggles to raise two children on her own. When a new caravan arrives on the cramped lot they live on, Paula allows herself, and her children, to imagine the home is theirs—a fantasy highlighting the fragility of her reality and her family.


Barbara Cigarroa was also recently selected for the prestigious Sundance Screenwriting Lab


Dios Nunca Muere will show in Program Three, Wednesday April 3rd, at 8:00pm.


Still from Green

Still from Green, image courtesy of CUFF


Green, directed and co-written by alumna Suzanne Andrews Correa ’17, and produced and co-written by alumnus Mustafa Kaymak ’17, won best narrative short at Sundance this year, and is also showing at Aspen Shortsfest. Alumnus Nicolás Becerra '18 served as the film's assistant director, alumnus Mark Castillo '17 was the line producer, while alumna Pınar Yorgancıoğlu '16 was the editor. Green follows two undocumented Turkish brothers who face the challenges of life in New York City together. Green (a.k.a. Samet), the younger brother and a recent arrival to the city, wants to make a fresh start in a new place, but Abi, older and battle-worn, has been in the city longer. Knowing the challenges that await his brother, he wants to protect him. When a street altercation turns into an assault, Green draws the police to the apartment that he shares with his brother and several undocumented Middle Eastern men, unwittingly putting them all at risk of discovery. The result pits Abi and Green against the other residents and threatens to separate the newly reunited brothers.


Green was also selected as a semi-fInalist at the NBCU Short Film Festival last fall. 


Green will show in Program Six, Friday April 5th, at 5:15pm.


Founded in 1979 by Ellen Kohner Hunt, Aspen Film seeks to enlighten, enrich, educate, and entertain through film. Throughout its history, Aspen Film has been creating unique and memorable experiences for both the serious cinephile and casual movie lover.