ASFF 2016 Best Thriller: Cork Man

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is currently open for entries, presenting an opportunity for established and emerging filmmakers to showcase their work to wider audiences. We look closer at 2016’s Best Thriller Cork Man through an interview with director Dawn Han whose inspirations include film noir, fashion, design and wider visual culture. In the film a man with a hole in his head tries to hide his deformity from the world until one day he is pursued by a mysterious stranger.

ASFF: Cork Man tells the tale of a man who lives his life hiding a deformity. What emotions does the film aim to evoke in its viewers?
DH: I think most people have secrets of their own, be they embarrassing or dark. Something about them or something that they have done that they won’t want to share with anyone. Cork Man’s deformity is one of those things that makes him insecure and unable to relate to the “normal healthy” people in his daily surroundings.

The problem with Cork Man’s character is that he is so consumed by his insecurity, which prevents him from living life to the fullest. If he could put on a more objective lens to view the world he lives in, he’d see everyone has his or her own “deformity” and that’s just nature. Unfortunately, we’re all isolated individuals. We can never live in someone else’s body. There is just no way to experience what the other person is thinking and feeling.

ASFF: What was the main inspiration behind Cork Man?
DH: Before My co-writer Jason Chilcott started on the script, we were both looking at lots of Francis Bacon’s work. One night, Jason said to me, “what about a guy with a hole on his head?”, I was like that sounds like… an idea, “and then what happens?” I said. We both didn’t exactly know how the story is going to be, but Jason thought I like film noir so much, I should write a noir-esque little story.

I started that first draft and we kept bouncing more ideas off each other. We even spent countless nights arguing where exactly the hole on his head should be. Story wise, we were just trying to imagine what it is like to be a guy with a hole on his head. His world and his experience got to fit him as a person because the story is told through his perspective. Maybe it seems a bit strange, but Cork Man does see everything in a strange way, and he can’t quite make sense of his world.

ASFF: Your short film picked up the of award for Best Thriller at ASFF this year, what is it that you like about this genre?
DH: Thrillers are great! Did I say I’m a noir fan? I think thrillers a lot of times expose the most vulnerable sides of humanity. The genre reminds ourselves that we’re only humans. We’re weak, helpless, terrible and hysterical at times, that’s all in our nature! Thrillers are really in a way courageous rides for the audience. I believe people love the thrills because it makes them feel alive in a different way than drama.

ASFF: Does your background in the fashion industry influence the films you produce and the characters you create?
DH: I watch lots of films for inspirations for fashion when I design. I always believe the person chooses what they wear based on his or her character. It’s never like I can design a piece of clothing that would work perfectly on everyone. So, a lot of times it’s like a character study. There are endless questions like who is your customer? what do they do? what do they like? It really builds up my curiosity about people. Perhaps that explains why I usually like to start digging deeper in the characters first and plots second.

Other than that, fashion is a form of visual art, so I’m sure many other fashion designers like myself have spent most of their careers looking at and referencing lots of visuals. You develop your taste in visuals that way, and that sort of just carries through no matter what you do.

ASFF:  How does it feel to be an ASFF award winner?
DH: It feels incredible obviously! I wouldn’t trade it for anything! But it was quite shocking at the same time. You know, you don’t really expect any kind of award in return when you make the film, but you do want them for your cast and crew because they worked so hard on the film! I think it’s a great acknowledgment on the little film we produced together as a team! And I’m thankful beyond words for all the talented people that worked on the film.

For more information on Cork Man visit

For ASFF 2017 submission guidelines and to enter, visit

1. Dawn Han, Cork Man