The closing night of the seventh Aesthetica Short Film Festival was filled with excitement, anticipation and celebrations as the prestigious Awards Ceremony took place, after the festival’s five-day run across York. A celebration of the brilliant and diverse filmmaking on offer at this year’s festival, approximately 200 guests were in attendance including, filmmakers and festival-goers who made their way to the historic National Centre for Early Music to discover the winners of the coveted Festival Awards.
Over 300 films in this year’s Official Selection, were in competition to receive awards that recognise outstanding talent in filmmaking practice. In addition to selecting a winner from each genre category, the Jury also presented four other awards on the night: Best of Fest Award, The People’s Choice, York Youth Award and the Northern Film School Award for Best Screenplay, sponsored by the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University.
This year, the overall Best of Fest winners were Benjamin Cleary and TJ O’Grady Peyton, for their film Wave, the story of a man who wakes from a coma speaking a fully formed but unrecognisable language, which also went on to win the Best Drama Award. Cleary was also awarded the Best of Fest in 2015 for Stutterer, which later went on to receive the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film at the 88th Academy Awards.
The Artists’ Film Award and The Northern Film School Award for Best Screenplay went to the creative and deeply original For Real Tho by Baptist Penetticobra. A group of teenagers gathers at night to make a film and when the group decides to mess up the film they’re in, a feud starts between the film and its characters.
Reaching past the possibilities of design and tapping into brand ethos, Best Advertising went to Luca Finotti’s #WeBelieveInThePowerOfLove and Best Fashion film went to That Jam for The Sleeping Field. As one of the most visceral and all-encompassing strands of the festival, the Experimental Film Award was presented to Noémi Varga with The Happiest Barrack. Best Documentary went to Sam Peeters for his portrayal of an ironic caricature of like in the Flemish suburbs in Homeland.
Best Music Video went to Metaxas – Sirens directed by Savvas Stavrou. An elderly man reminisces over all that has defined him over the years – his fidelity and his love – whilst time steadily moves backwards and unfolds. Celebrating the art of performance, Best Dance was awarded to Andrew Margetson for Lil Buck with Icons of Modern Art.
Revelling in the liberation of creativity, the Animation Award went to Johnno’s Dead by Chris Shepherd and the Best Comedy went to Teemu Niukkanen’s Fucking Bunnies. Plunging into the darker side of humanity, Ian Hunt Duffy’s Gridlock was awarded Best Thriller.
This year’s York Youth Award was chosen by the students who attended ASFF’s Youth Engagement Programme, for children aged between 11-14 years old. The day featured a series of specially curated films designed to encourage critical engagement and a deeper understanding of the filmmaking process. Chris Overton’s The Silent Child was selected as their winner, a film inspired by real life events, that told the story of a deaf four-year-old girl, whose social worker teaches her the gift of communication. The Silent Child also captivated festival audiences, taking home the People’s Choice Award.
As a BAFTA-Qualifying festival, all films that screened at ASFF are eligible to be considered for a BAFTA, which offers a great opportunity for filmmakers who might not otherwise be able to get their films in front of the committee. Festival programmers in attendance at ASFF have previously selected ASFF films to screen at other festivals internationally and professional connections made at the festival have resulted in several high-profile collaborations.
Cherie Federico, ASFF Director, notes: “For the first time in seven years, ASFF has run across five days, both to meet audience demand and to help us showcase an even greater diversity of the incredible filmmaking. This year we prided ourselves on being more broadly representative than ever, with special guest programmes including the Iris Prize series of LGBTQ+ inspired short films, as well as a strand of Polish films with English subtitles, and a focus on urban culture and cultural pioneers. It’s been our strongest year yet in terms of industry sessions and deeply original films. It’s been wonderful to see the buzz that is generated across York throughout the week – we can’t wait until 2018!”
1. Still from Benjamin Cleary’s Wave. Courtesy of Benajmin Cleary.