Film As an Experimental Medium
From its very beginnings, Aesthetica Short Film Festival has embraced artists and filmmakers that work in the field of experimental cinema. Here, we celebrate five experimental shorts across five years at the ASFF, all available for you to watch in our Short Film Library.
Fireflies | Poulomi Basu & CJ Clarke
After working together on 2018’s Blood Speaks, a film that explored normalised physical violence against women, Clarke and Basu reunited here for Fireflies. Shown at ASFF 2022, winning the prize for Best Experimental Short, this narrated work embraces science fiction, as a female astronaut crash-lands on an inhospitable and seemingly sentient planet. There, she is forced to confront the ghosts of her past – from the claustrophobia of home through to the dreams of escape and transcendence. Two films, presented in a single frame, Basu and Clarke present the works in conversation with each other.
Don’t Know What | Thomas Renoldner
Screened at ASFF 2020, this black-and-white work from Austrian innovator Renoldner is described as a “slapstick avant-garde film,” and sees him explore the possibilities of single frame editing in a live-action video. Seen to camera, Renoldner’s voice and body are used like filmic tools, as his voice becomes something akin to a drum machine and his arms and legs move rapidly to conjure a surreal fantasy. As the filmmaker said, “The main reason to make this film was to enjoy myself and to celebrate that I can talk and move my body.”
Kindred | Samona Olanipekun
Commissioned by the Barbican, Kindred won the Best Experimental Short at ASFF in 2019. Here, the London-based, Coventry-born Olanipekun explores the concept of home, identity and belonging, whilst tapping into the underlying presence of wider globalisation in today’s world. Intriguingly, Olanipekun is on the talent roster of the award-winning film production company Lammas Park, which was founded by Sir Steve McQueen, the artist and filmmaker behind Shame, 12 Years A Slave, Widows and the recent Small Axe series.
Gravity’s Law | Matt McDermott
McDermott’s short, presented at ASFF 2017, comes inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem Gravity’s Law. Commissioned by Channel 4’s Random Acts, and shot around the Brutalist architecture at the Barbican Centre and estate in London, McDermott taps into themes of meditation and nature in a response to the overload of information in modern society. Narrated by Bill Fellows and starring Sarah Mac and Neil Newbon, this is a beautiful, expressive work that elegantly combines live action and CGI.
Reverie | Stella Scott
“Dreams to me is something that you see and believe and think that that could happen to you.” Set against an imposing shot of an urban tower block, the first words spoken in Scott’s work that played at ASFF 2016 capture her intentions, as she explores the consciousness of youth. Examining the thoughts and feelings of young Londoners, Reverie introduces a world of unstable, fragile dreams that are undefined by daily reality. Cut to some stirring images of the city, the answers from the participants are often as surprising as they are revealing.
Take a look at other films in the ASFF Library.
Cover image: “After We’re Gone” dir. Ima Iduozee (ASFF2023)
Words: James Mottram