With York’s edgiest annual artsfest in full swing, the streets overrun with gaggles of cinema savants, I pedalled my way into town on the death trap of a bike I use as my primary form of transport, in order to bring you the highlights of day two of the ASFF.
The first film I wish to bring to your attention is Lock In. Funded through Creative England’s iShort’s initiative, and directed by Neville Pierce, it tells the tale of a pub landlord and his pregnant daughter trapped in the building shortly after last orders by a menacing figure from the owner’s past. But said landlord, played by a much more beardy Tim McInnery than one may be entirely used to, has far more skeletons in the closet than daughter Lucy (Lucy Boynton) can begin to comprehend. It’s dark, gritty, and quite ambiguous about who the villain of the piece truly is, until a truly harrowing moment of clarity pulls the truth, kicking and screaming, into the light. There’s nothing I love quite more than an ambiguous antagonist, and McInnery’s performance is truly spectacular – despite what he’s done, you really do want to feel sorry for him. And then you take a look at yourself, and your pity, and start to feel guilty as well.
Following this, I decide to head to one of the Showcase Screenings, specifically one entitled Decoding Fashion Film. This event was not particularly well organised – it started fifteen minutes late, and the line up of films in the programme ended up being slightly different to what was actually shown. That said, the panel following the films screened was fascinating, the panellists involved digging into what “fashion film” means as a genre, with particularly heightened responses to one member of the audience who questioned whether or not fashion film is already dead. It’s definitely not for everyone, and to an extent that includes me too; a good 50% of the films went straight over my head, montages of extremely thin women clad in surreal makeup and impractical garments, contorting their bodies while trance music thuds in the background. Still, many more were quite beautiful: All Eyes On Me and Rose in London both sought to document the lives of trans and non-binary people and explore the performative nature of gender, while Folie à Deux pictured two models tearing each other’s lives apart, backdropped by the white cliffs of Dover. High fashion film is eerie, glamorous, and quite compelling. It certainly won’t be like anything else you may have seen.
Having spent all day holed up in City Screen, I decided to make my way to a screening at the campus of our arch nemeses and rivals, York St. John. Here, I saw I Scream Your Name, a charming, bittersweet tale about Nicolas (Jean Winiger), a man living in a retirement home, bored of everything and everyone around him. At night, he calls gay phone sex hotlines to abate his loneliness – that is, until a new lodger named Daniel (Pierre-André Sand) arrives. The film managed to take on serious issues such as solitude in old age, disability, and homophobia, yet still maintain a lighthearted, hopeful tone. Following this was Love is a Sting, the story of a struggling children’s book writer (Seán T. Ó Meallaigh) who befriends a 20-year-old mosquito with a human level of intelligence, who helps shift his view of the world. Narrated throughout, it has a very Wes Anderson-eqsue vibe, the same whimsical, mischievous feel. I left the YSJ lecture hall manifesting as a cinema with the impression that it isn’t all doom and gloom after all.
The festival’s halfway over. It’s not too late to buy a day pass.