5 To Stream: ASFF 2021 Masterclasses

This year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival welcomed an amazing array of guest speakers for both masterclasses and panel discussions. With all content available to those with festival passes until the end of November, here we select five of the best to stream.

Rising Star: Gamba Cole

British actor Gamba Cole joined journalist/critic Beth Webb for an intimate career chat. You might call it perfect timing, with Cole currently starring in Stephen Merchant’s hot new show The Outlaws opposite Christopher Walken. He talked honestly about his journey through the British film industry, as well as offering advice to upcoming performers. “I would go to plays, I would go to workshops, I would just really connect,” he says. “There is such a network of young emerging actors that are connecting and creating work together…it’s about really immersing yourself in that.”

The Changing Role of Film Criticism

A fascinating panel discussion, chaired by former Empire editor Terri White, about the state of film criticism and how it’s changed, especially during the pandemic. Joining her was Little White Lies editor David Jenkins, The i lead critic Christina Newland and Jason Wood, the Creative Director of Film & Culture at HOME in Manchester. Topics under discussion included the London-centric nature of film criticism: “We need to get away from this idea that if London isn’t doing it, then it’s not happening, it’s not important,” says Wood.

The Future of Film: BFI Film Fund’s Mia Bays

In this session, journalist/screenwriter Kate Muir joined Mia Bays, the new Director of the BFI Film Fund, to discuss her career as the Director of Bird’s Eye View, advocacy for women in film and television and her new role at the BFI, overseeing a £30 million budget for the Film Fund. Impressively, Bays addressed the fact that this money comes from the National Lottery, something she takes very seriously. “It’s National Lottery funding that funds these movies. That’s someone who’s bought a ticket. So it’s powered by hope.”

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A View into British Film: Gerard Johnson

Filmmaker Gerard Johnson joined Jason Wood to discuss his work to date, from his shorts to his three films Tony, Hyena and Muscle as well as his soundtrack collaborations with brother Matt Johnson (TheThe). A fascinating insights into his working process, including on feature debut Tony, his disturbing serial killer story, which he workshopped in secret with his actors for six months. “Even the other actors in the film only saw the scenes they were in, only saw the bit of script that they were in.” As he says, “It just shows you what you can do when there’s no interference.”

The Changing Face of Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Jeanie Finlay (Seahorse, Orion, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch) joined Beth Webb for a chat about her work, the evolution of the documentary form, and what has changed during the pandemic. After spending so much time filming before COVID-19, it was a time of reflection, she notes. “Can you use this time to reflect on what it is what you’re doing and how you can make work? Is there a story that’s local to you? Is there a story that means you don’t have to travel? What does risk mean?”


The 2021 Aesthetica Short Film Festival runs online until 30 November. Virtual tickets are still available to purchase here. Log in to our virtual platform here.

James Mottram