Prime Shorts celebrates first year
with Best of 2003 at Film Center

Xan Aranda recalls the “sad thrill” of seeing short films she loved at Sundance and other festivals.

“The life of a short film can be so fleeting,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of prolonging the lives of short films with an ongoing show.”

To do so, Aranda, a regular at the music and performance venue the Hideout, started the Prime Shorts screening series there on Jan. 28, 2003, and a year to the day later, celebrates its first anniversary with a Best of 2003 show Jan. 28 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

“The variety of things going on at the Hideout is so wide, adding ongoing screenings of independent film seemed a natural addition,” she said. “It’s a place where regular folks who don’t normally attend film festivals would go to drink beer, eat popcorn, and be entertained.”

“I love short films,” Aranda raved. “They can be so blood and guts basic, made with scavenged cash. And sometimes people who never dreamed of making a film before give the short form a try and do quite well & mdash; or horribly, as is also an option, believe me.”

Prime Shorts runs the last Wednesday of every other month at the Hideout. There’s a strong emphasis on shorts by local filmmakers, combined with a healthy selection of work by national and international artists. The events have grown to incorporate live music, and puppet shows by local artist Meredith Miller. “Meredith reenacts the last moments in the lives of legendary icons with her beautiful shadow puppets in a funny, sad, simple, way,” Aranda said.

Aranda plans five Hideout shows in the coming year, possibly bringing in more feature films along with the shorts. (One feature, Trent Harris’ “Beaver Trilogy,” screened in the series last year.)

Aranda started making her own films and music videos while working at San Francisco post house FilmCore Editorial. She spent six months in China during the 2000 SAG commercial actors strike, and wound up in Chicago a few years ago.

Prime Shorts Best of 2003 includes films by James Brett, Emily Hubley, Yevgeniy Yufit, Jim Finn, David Greenspan, Arthur Jones, Lena Merhej, Bill Brown, Yuri A, Suzie Templeton, Paul Gutrecht, Brian Bess, Wes Kim, and Matthew Gossage & Patrick Van Slee, as well as the trio of eight-year-old filmmakers behind the day- camp opus “Dolls.”

Music before the 8:30 p.m. screening by Abraham Levitan, DJ Deep Dish spins after. The Film Center is at 164 N. State. Prime Shorts returns to the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 25, with a performance by Kevin O’Donnell & Friends.

Reach Aranda at
? by Ed M. Koziarski,