The Gruffalo

If you go

What: 2011 Academy Award Nominated Short Films program

When: Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 26

Where: Muenzinger Auditorium

For times, listings, and more info:

For the first time since starting to screen Oscar-nominated short films in 2006, the International Film Series will be exhibiting documentary shorts along with its live-action and animated blocks. This will also be the first year that the IFS will devote an entire week to these short films that viewers will unlikely be able to see elsewhere.

“There’s so much incredibly good stuff out there in all the fields: animated, live-action, and documentary,” says Pablo Kjolseth, who runs IFS and has programmed the upcoming shorts series. “What I do like about the Oscars is it gives everyone a global perspective and I think that’s important for CU students and other audience members.”

Countries represented in the 2011 Academy Award Nominated Short Films program aside from our own are: Australia, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea, and Ireland.

“Audience members can get a real sense of the global economy,” Kjolseth says, “and that’s important for anyone in our changing world.”

By that same token, one’s betting chances in the age-old tradition of Oscar pools are greatly heightened by actually watching all of the films nominated, rather than merely those — namely features — that get screened on a mainstream level.

When asked why he felt it necessary to screen the nominated short subject films to the public, Magnolia Pictures’ Head of Distribution Neal Block named “having a leg up on Oscar polls” as his number one reason, without as much as a chuckle.

Being put in charge of distributing the shorts program by Short Films International — who had originally teamed with Magnolia Pictures, but has been going it alone since 2009 — Block works closely with nationwide film series programmers like Kjolseth in order to ensure a wider theatrical release of said program.

“In a lot of places,” says Block, “this program is the only way people can see the shorts in a theater setting.” Block also says that though there are other short film programs that happen regularly throughout the year — alternative lifestyles, animated festivals, etc. — this program is by far the widest to be released. With over 200 screens across the country and growing, Block’s program continues to outshine other shorts programs, pulling in more box office grosses every year.

Kjolseth revealed that this program is also one of the top draws for IFS. He said last year’s series had to go up against a near blizzard in Boulder, but there were still packed houses for each screening. Hence his expanding the program from two nights to a full week.

Area audience members can still catch all 10 feature-length films nominated for this year’s Best Picture at AMC’s Westminster Promenade 24 where — for $50 a ticket — patrons can experience a 24-hour marathon of the films starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The only short film in the upcoming IFS program that audience members might have seen previously is Pixar’s “Day & Night,” which ran before the recently released “Toy Story 3.” The rest of the shorts, however, are less likely to have been seen by patrons.

“At the end of the day,” says Kjolseth, “this program is a great way for audience members to see a lot of films that are otherwise off the radar.”

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