Celebrating its 5th year, the BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival took York by storm this last weekend. Literally. I can attest to the fact that the weather was far from picture perfect; the films, however, were just that. Picture perfect.
Teams of enthusiastic festival-goers, including myself, made our way through the adversity of those harsh northern winds and rough showers we get to know so instinctively, our bright yellow lanyards providing the only ray of sunshine, at least outside of the screenings. The poor weather did not succeed in its aim, it did not defeat us, and I was surprised just how unreservedly lively the atmosphere was across the whole weekend. The audience was diverse, but seemed equally as enthusiastic as I was. This may have something to do with the fact that, despite being a self-confessed cinephile, this was my first time experiencing a film festival. It is perhaps also due to this year’s fantastic and wide-reaching programme, venues and events included, and of course the natural magnificence of its host city. It turns out York is a fantastic place to hold a film festival, and here are the incredible winners from a weekend of thought-provoking shorts of all genres and nuances.
Best Thriller/Festival Winner: A Confession, Petros Silvestros, UK.
Since having its world premiere at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, and subsequently being awarded the Golden Bear for Best Short Film, Silvestros’ thriller A Confession was presented with two awards, including the overarching Festival Winner, delighting audiences in its ability to grip and incite tension in under a 10 minutes running time.
People’s Choice Award: Acoustic Kitty, Jennifer Sheridan, UK.
Acoustic Kitty showcases director Jennifer Sheridan’s ability to create a distinctive comedic narrative in this dark comedy centred on the CIA’s failed efforts to spy on Russia during the cold war, by the unlikely method of diffusing cats implanted with sound recording devices amongst them.
York Youth Award: Billy the Kid, Sam Johnson, UK.
Developed in association with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the York Youth Award seeks to introduce young people to independent cinema. Sam Johnson’s delightfully funny Billy the Kid scooped the award, whose genre binding short suffused comedy with a message that caught its audience’s attention.
Best Fashion: Pinch Me (For Ted Baker), Crowns & Owls (White Lodge), UK.
Ted Bakers fashion film Pinch Me takes the cinematic trope of boy meets girl to new levels with this doppelgänger filled film, a suitably stylish shipwrecked man searches an island and discovers a surreally populated and equally stylish locale.
Best Advertising: The Experimenter, Simon Emmerson, Andy Russell, Tim Spence & Phil Robson, UK.
The essence and vibrancy of the Lush creative process is captured in the dynamic and eye-catching short The Experimenter. A plethora of colours and textures burst onto the screen with extravagance and beauty to boot.
Best Experimental: Drifters, Anu Valia, USA.
Anu Valia’s Drifters is an evocative and expressive short, whose world is realised through the eyes of a downcast actress. The film explores the human need to find purpose, validation and meaning in one’s life choices, and the intricate anxieties that accompany the everyday.
Best Dance: Primitive, Tom Rowland, UK.
Winning the award for Best Dance, Primitive explores the complex nature and intermingling of grief, violence and creativity, following the narrative of a dancer through heartbreak, stifled anger and its subsequent release and the freedom offered by the act of creating.
Best Animation: Somewhere Down the Line, Julien Regnard, Ireland.
The beautifully animated Somewhere Down the Line uses human interactions in a car and its journey to represent the life, its love and losses of one man. Exceedingly profound, moving and insightful, Regnard’s animation was not to be missed.
Best Artist’s Film: Towards the Possible Film, Shezad Dawood, UK/Morocco.
Shezad Dawood’s jaunting and surreal Towards the Possible Film takes place amongst and explores the relationship between the real and surreal, the past and present. Creating and capturing the nature of parallel worlds and the reactions that occur when they meet.
Best Music Video: Daughters, Dominique Rocher, France.
Daughters was shot in one room and on one continuous take, and explores the repeated movement and dynamics of a group of characters that intersect and coexist, stuck in their own individual motions.
Best Documentary: Across Still Water, Ruth Grimberg, UK.
Across Still Water follows John, who, diagnosed with an eye condition which means that he will gradually lose his sight, has to come to terms with the eventuality of life without looking and the quest for independence beyond it.
Best Drama: Stutterer, Benjamin Cleary, UK/Ireland.
Ben Cleary’s drama Stutterer brilliantly captures the life of a solitary typographer and his life with an incapacitating speech impediment which he struggles to overcome. The protagonist is faced with various difficult and uncomfortable encounters with strangers in which he must challenge his fears.
Best Comedy: How I Didn’t Become a Piano Player, Tommaso Pitta, UK.
Tommaso Pitta brings audiences 9 year old Ted, who takes the title for being the clumsiest boy in the world. Inevitably with this title, mishaps are prevalent, but Ted frantically attempts to discover his true calling. Things don’t go too well, that is until his father brings home an old piano.
Watch out for more reflective pieces on ASFF during this week here at Nouse.