5 Film Festivals to Attend this Season
The 2023 film festival season is underway, and whilst a lot of attention will be focused on bigger events like the Berlinale, Sundance and Rotterdam, there are some other great festivals to keep an eye on too. Here are five to attend this season and what to expect from the line ups, including some stand-out films from ASFF alumni.
London Short Film Festival
The London Short Film Festival has a fabulous array of shorts on offer from some of the most exciting new filmmakers around. There’s been numerous ASFF alumni showcasing their works, including Joe Williams and Charlie Edwards-Moss’ descent into madness O, GLORY!, which won Best Thriller at ASFF 2022. A highlight of the 20th anniversary is a Q&A with previous ASFF speaker Peter Strickland, with a full retrospective of his short film works. He’s also bringing a special guest!
Running from 20-29 January
Clermont-Ferrand is arguably one of the world’s most important film festivals. It receives huge numbers of admissions and visitors every year, with over 172,000 attendees in 2020. The 2023 edition opens with former ASFF guest speaker Sally Potter’s new short Look at Me, starring Javier Bardem and Chris Rock, which we previously reviewed. Also amongst the wide-ranging programme is Hanging On by Alfie Barker, which won the ASFF Best of Festival and Best Documentary prizes in 2021. Barker’s popular docu-drama, about a community in Leeds facing the loss of their homes, is playing as part of the inaugural European Short Film Audience Award at this year’s proceedings.
Running from 27 January – 4 February
Scotland’s biggest film festival is back, and it has some fantastic films in the line-up. Recent Oscar nominee Paul Mescal takes centre stage in God’s Creatures, an Irish-set drama co-starring Emily Watson. The wonderful Kelly Macdonald and Monica Dolan team up in Typist Artist Pirate King, the new film from Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life) about the artist Audrey Amiss and her struggles with her mental health. Nicolas Cage’s latest Butcher’s Crossing, a compelling looking western, is also playing. Most excitingly, the festival opens with actor-turned-director Adura Onashile’s Girl, a Glasgow-set tale starring French rising star Déborah Lukumuena.
Running from 1-12 March
One of America’s coolest festivals, the Austin-based SXSW is a fantastic celebration of culture, film, music and technology, gathering artists from all over the globe. The film festival itself kicks off with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and the much-anticipated horror Evil Dead Rise will also be unveiled. This year, there’s a wonderful ASFF connection too, with Sparsh Ahuja and Omi Gupta’s 2022 Listening Pitch-winning Birdsong selected to screen. This vital documentary explores the dying whistling traditions of the Hmong people of northern Laos.
Running from 10-19 March
The British Film Institute’s annual celebration of LGBTQIA+ filmmaking, held on the BFI Southbank in London, is always a lively and hugely popular event. It is a festival that’s always been a great showcase for filmmakers with connections to Aesthetica Short Film Festival. Last year, British-Nigerian artist and filmmaker Juliana Kasumu (Losing Joy), David McShane (Come) and Jack Pulford (Silver and Gold) were all included in the selection. What will be playing this year? Find out on 15 February, when the line-up is announced.
Running from 15-26 March
Words: James Mottram
1. Bus Girl (2021), dir. Jessica Henwick
2. O, GLORY! (2021), dir. Joe Williams and Charlie Edwards-Moss
3. Look at Me (2022), dir. Sally Potter
4. Girl (2023), dir. Adura Onashile
5. Birdsong (2022), dir. Sparsh Ahuja and Omi Gupta
6. Silver and Gold (2021), dir. Jack Pulford