Aspen Shortsfest comes to the Crystal Theater |

Aspen Shortsfest comes to the Crystal Theater

Marcus Cano and Sharat Raju wanted to tell a story that would make the audience think.

The critically acclaimed duo came to the 13th Annual International Short Film and Video Festival for its down valley showing at the Crystal Theater in Carbondale Friday, April 2 through Sunday, April 4.

Friday night featured seven short films that shunned the usual glamour and gloss of Hollywood in favor of a variety of styles and cultures that relied on simple dialogue and ideas to create some powerful and provoking stories.

One of the most poignant and timely was the 25-minute film, “American Made,” written, directed and produced by American Film Institute students Marcus Cano and Sharat Raju.

The story tells of an American Sikh family whose Jeep Cherokee breaks down in the desert on their way to the Grand Canyon. When the father tries to flag down passing cars, no one stops, even when he scrapes a “God Bless America” sticker off the Jeep bumper and waves it at oncoming cars.

After standing in the blazing sun and the dust of zooming vehicles, the younger son tells his father that no one is ever going to stop. He looks up at his father, who is dressed in a traditional Indian turban. “They think you are a terrorist.”

As the family bickers, the universal struggle between new and old beliefs emerge as the regal Indian parents fight to hold onto their customs while raising two Americanized sons in a post-Sept. 11 environment.

Later, after an argument, the father takes a walk and while he is away, a man in a truck finally stops and asks the mother and son if they need help.

When the man offers to give them a ride, the son searches for his father and finds that that father has removed the turban, an important article of faith and a representation of their culture.

The son has never seen his father in public without it, but the symbolic act allows him to recognize the significance of the turban, and even more importantly, the idea that his father is able to assimilate and balance the old beliefs with the new in order to live in America.

When the son realizes this, he re-braids his father’s hair and wraps the turban. When they get back to the Jeep, they meet their Good Samaritan, who is a black man.

The father and the black man look at each other for a long moment and the black man says, “Need a lift? You don’t want to get stranded out here. Believe me, I know.”

From left, Hesper Kentz of Glenwood works for Dr. Traul, Gibb Kentz is a carpenter and Shawn Bones of Carbondale works for Bones Hardwood Flooring.

Jack Real of Glenwood is retired and Sue Lavin of Glenwood is a writer and has a book coming out next week called, “Women’s Standup.”

From left, Michelle Buchman of Carbondale is a local business owner, Mary Harris of El Jebel owns Woody Creek Tavern and Patricia Neeb of El Jebel is a psychotherapist.

American Film Institute students Marcus Cano, left and Sharat Raju of Los Angeles created “American Made” for their thesis project.

Michael Pixley, left, of Basalt manages CFA Gallery in Carbondale, Maxine Pixley, and Tiffany Pixley is a pastry Chef at Rustique.

Jill Sheslik of Glenwood works for the City of Aspen and has been a festival volunteer for seven years and Kitty Riley of Carbondale is a media specialist at Basalt High School and has been a festival volunteer for four years.

Festival volunteers from left, Polly Pollard, left, of Basalt, is house manager for Filmfest and an ESL teacher at Colorado Mountain College, Robert Adams of Carbondale, and Nancy Caponi of El Jebel is the gallery manager at the Baldwin Gallery in Aspen.

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