Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2014 — The Highlights

What do Maxine Peake, Ridley Scott and Lily Cole have in common? They’re all part of this year’s BAFTA-qualifying ASFF film festival, of course: Joshua Potts trawls through the programme to pick his highlights…

My, how things have grown. It’s been four years since Aesthetica magazine called on its readership to submit home-made shorts for a DVD collection. The response – thousands of hours of film, spanning 37 countries – was certainly too great for a one-off experiment, and led to the creation of the first Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) in 2011, an audacious new mark on the cinephile calendar.

Spread across the city of York, and this year with a newly granted BAFTA awards submission status, it is positioning itself as one of the UK’s most varied and picturesque celebrations of independent film-making from around the world.

Contemporary paranoia will be shredding some nerves as Former Things (directed by Adam R. Brown) and Hold (Eric Kolelas) throw an intimate spin on the apocalypse, complimenting Maxine Peake’s eagerly-awaited performance in Keeping up with the Joneses (Michael Pearce) as a woman kidnapped by her husband’s criminal fraternity. Those wanting to whet their social appetite between the nail-biting should be content with Friday’s party at Thirteen Thirty One, a fantastic hybrid restaurant-cinema venue sitting in York’s Latin Quarter, that will be catering for a pick n’ mix gathering of audience and industry types.

“The sheer wealth of films on offer will educate the side of us that yearns to be brash, bold and transcending normality”

Fluidity emerges as a strong theme in the festival’s programme: Channel 4, Ridley Scott Associates, and Empire’s Anna Smith are just some of the names heading discussions and masterclasses on the business of getting noticed, an ointment for the deep scars left by aggressive cuts in the government’s arts budget. The message, carried from ASFF’s origins, seems to be that anything is still possible. Opportunity will present itself over three-days of networking sessions although, for many, the sheer wealth of films on offer will educate the side of us that yearns to be brash, bold and transcending normality.

Tears of Inge (Alisi Telengut) is one such work, an animation constructed from slides of oil pastels visualising a Mongolian folk story, as told by Telengut’s grandmother. Descriptions of his technique (painting’s equivalent of time-lapse photography) and the fact it’s portrayed from the emotional perspective of a camel, should prove a fascinating watch. Other reflections on the power of myth include Kickstarter-funded animation The Waste Land (Lucy Lee) and A Film is a Film is a Film (Eva von Schweinitz), which investigates the beauty of celluloid in the wake of digital projection.

The skydiving sequence in Godzilla might have found a perfect match in Lancaster (Phillip Stevens) – its trailer is dominated by a similar, infernal sky of red and black, though this time the soldiers facing imminent death are based on heroes of a WWII bombing raid. For lighter fare, my picks are Bad Day at the Office (Nick Scott), which should deliver on its Kafka-esque premise, while The Boy with a Camera for a Face (Spencer Brown) speaks for itself, literalising the 21st century obsession with documenting the lives we’re not really leading.

What distinguishes ASFF even further is its commitment to showcasing film’s adaptability to art and fashion. Vivienne Westwood’s anti-capitalist stance inspired Lorna Tucker to make Red Shoes (featuring supermodel Lily Cole). Chamade (Kinga Burza) is billed as a fizzy display of the new SS14 Morgan collection, in the style of Nouvelle Vague.

The bottom line of the festival may be ‘aesthetics’, but the soul shines through ever more brightly, as the scope for this kind of cinematic congregation carves its name into York’s cultural offer.

Joshua Potts

Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) 2014 runs Thursday 6  until Sunday 9 November 2014 — four day unlimited pass £30; one day pass £15; individual screenings £5. Book tickets here

See full festival programme here!

Read our coverage of past ASFF events here

Posted on 03/11/2014 by thedoublenegative