The Aesthetica Short Film Festival – the latest addition to the British film festival circuit – threw open its doors last Thursday night. The inaugural event spanned 4 days (3-6 November) and offered both visitors and residents the opportunity to experience film in the historic city of York. With 150 short films screened in 15 diverse locations across the weekend, medieval halls, historic buildings and contemporary art spaces were transformed into one-off, site-specific venues that allowed visitors the chance to see films from the world-over in a unique setting.
Individual screenings were complemented by a rich programme of special events and discussions, including the ASFF Awards Ceremony where Festival Director, Cherie Federico and Tony Earnshaw, former head of Film Programming at National Media Museum, announced the category winners. The following films will be on the Aesthetica Shorts DVD which will be available with the December/January issue.
Best Documentary and Overall Festival Winner: River Dog (2011), James Muir/Daniel Hunter, (Mangakuri Pictures), New Zealand River Dog is an intimate look into a farmer’s life, and the struggle he endures to protect the river he lives by.
Best Drama: LIN (2010), Piers Thompson, (Hector Film Ltd), UK/Bulgaria/Turkey A woman arrives at a Port Town in an unknown country as dawn turns to day. Her recounted stories begin to contradict themselves as she travels across the landscape. She is searching for something, a shape or a structure, which we are not even sure exists. Along the road she is eventually forced into initiating the process of self-reckoning. As her artifice begins to fall away she finds herself continuing her journey but now with a sense of resolution.
Best Comedy: Tooty’s Wedding (2010), Frederic Casella, (Hoot Comedy), UK A young couple’s marriage hilariously hits the rocks during a weekend wedding in the country. Co-written by Ben Willbond and Laura Solon, this is an excruciatingly funny glimpse into a marriage on the blink.
Best Thriller: Cleaning Up (2011), The Guerrier Brothers, (Big Finish Productions/Dead Dog Films), UK Mr Jackson is the perfect hitman; cold, calculating and professional, you see him and you die, don’t you? Cleaning Up stars Mark Gatiss as Mr Jackson, with Louise Jameson as Mrs Pellman and Anton Romain Thompson as James.
Best Music Video: Amatorski: Soldier (2011), Maria de Gier, (Independent), Best Animation
Best Animation: Hasan Everywhere (2009), Andrew Kavanagh, (Kavaleer Productions), Ireland They were young, talented and free in New York. Dorit Rabinyan was an Israeli novelist and Hasan Hourani was a Palestinian artist. Their passionate friendship, impossible at home, flourished abroad. Then, in 2003 while visiting his family, Hourani drowned in Jaffa. Inspired by Dorit’s 2003 article The Exile’s Return and Hasan’s children’s book Hasan Everywhere, this film contrasts the lonely voice of the writer with the warm, imaginative landscapes of the artist.
Best Art Film: Wall (2011), Michael Barwise, (University for the Creative Arts, Farnham), UK Wall is a short film designed for installation in a gallery space. Shot in super 16mm film, it tackles issues surrounding peace walls in Northern Ireland. Through the manifestation of feelings of paranoia, uncertainty and isolation it explores what it is like to grow up and live beside one of these walls, questioning the spaces that we consider home.
Best Experimental Film: Dogged (2011), Jo Shaw, (Red Crow Films), UK In a world where bogeymen roam freely, devouring people randomly and the only creatures they fear are dogs; Old Dog does her best to defend the family home.
Dr Knowgood: Lion’s Pride (2010), Arnold Zwanenburg, (Googoo), The Netherlands/Indonesia Dr Knowgood: Lion’s Pride is a clay and stop motion animation directed by Arnold Zwanenburg. Telling the story of a lion that has lost his voice and a monkey doctor who saves the day, this is a charming piece of short film.
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