A Season of Film at York Theatre Royal | 22 April – 8 July

Film is transformative, powerful and resonating. It can change the world in a matter of seconds. York’s very own BAFTA-Qualifying Aesthetica Film Festival has teamed up with York Theatre Royal to present a Season of Independent Film, which looks at how the big screen helps us to make sense of the past, present and future. We bring you films that look at the LGBTQ+ experience and the climate crisis, as well as an interrogation of humans and technology, and the best of Black British cinema, alongside our comedy club screening and a slate of BAFTA and Oscar-winning short films. Here is your chance to step away from the ordinary and immerse yourself in the power of narrative through independent film. 

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What’s On

Earth Day, Friday 22 April | 19.15

Fragile Existence: Witness to the Climate Crisis (70 mins)

There is no doubt that the climate crisis is moving towards the tipping point. Filmmakers are key witnesses to these changes. The impact of population growth, globalisation, urbanisation, industrialisation and the exhaustion of natural resources has finally taken its toll. In order to save the world, we must act now and prevent future generations from living with the consequences. This programme looks at mass consumption and the global community.

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David Fedele
(Australia, 2012, 20:00)

E-Wasteland presents a visual portrait of Ghana’s unregulated e-waste recycling trade, where electronics are not seen for what they once were, but for what they have become.

The Beauty
Pascal Schelbli
(Germany, 2019, 04:20)

A poetic journey through the oceans, which are simultaneously stunning and filthy. Discover a world where concerns and fears dissolve in the mysterious depth of the polluted sea.

Meghna Gupta
(UK, 2012, 14:00)

Unravel follows the journey of clothes from the western world on a journey across Northern India to a sleepy town named Panipat, where women recycle the cast-offs back into yarn.

The Fourth Kingdom
Adan Aliaga & Alex Lora
(Spain, 2017, 14:18)

The Fourth Kingdom is the kingdom of plastics – a redemption centre in New York for immigrants and underdogs where the American Dream becomes very possible indeed.

Machine Man
Roser Corella & Alfonso Moral
(Spain, 2011, 15:00)

A reflection on modernity and global development. The film takes place in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, where millions of people become the driving force behind the city.

Simon Lane
(UK, 2018, 03:51)

Mother Nature leaves a chilling message for her inhabitants in this visual poem, traversing the Norwegian and Russian towns of Kirkenes and Nikel. A study of urbanity and nature.

Friday 29 April | 19.15

Comedy Club: Join us for a Laugh (80 mins)

Comedy offers something for everyone, following unwitting characters through their day-to-day lives as they descend into surreal, unexpected moments of chaos, lunacy and, often, release. These screenings are sure to surprise and connect viewers through universal emotions and shared experiences – the everyday turned absurd. Be surprised by your reactions to our mind-bending, hilarious selection of storylines by independent filmmakers.

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The Impatient Man Who Made His Life Considerably Shorter
Louis Norton Selzer (UK, 2021, 10:00)

When his compressed gas keyboard cleaner does not arrive on time, Mr. Guthrert Vratrol decides to take matters into his own impatient hands, rapidly hastening his own demise.

How I Didn’t Become
A Piano Player

Tommaso Pitta (UK 2015, 18:00)

Ted, aged nine, is the clumsiest boy in the world. Desperately searching for his vocation, he cannot find anything he is good at. Then his father comes home with an old monstrous piano.

Clanker Man
Ben Steiner
(UK, 2017, 10:21)

Terry Lothian works tirelessly to maintain the background details we take for granted. With his department feeling the pinch of cutbacks, it’s not just reality that unravels.

90 Grad Nord
Detsky Graffam (K17 Films)
(Germany, 2015, 20:51)

It’s a fact: good Germans wait at a red traffic light. But what if the green man simply won’t appear? 90 Degrees North is a parable, taking a humorous look at our belief in systems.

Kate Herron
(UK, 2017, 04:09)

The letter’s arrived. It’s time again. Chloe thinks she’s just going in for a routine test. Things do not go as planned. A hilarious take on everday medical mishaps.

Sparrows and Snorkels
Elena Brotschi (ZHdk)
(Switzerland, 2014, 15:00)

Following a series of encounters in which Ivan meets Paolo, little Jonas meets Ida, another Jonas meets Sandra and Annina meets Jonas – in July, at a campsite by a river.

Saturday 30 April, 14.15

Animation: Imagination & Discovery
(Family Friendly, 60 mins)

This collection of films introduces children to the wonderful world of animation. The range of styles depicts all the fantastic possibilities for this enthralling genre. Stories are highly emotive and cover a range of topics that are relevant in a child’s emotional education, beyond that some of the films are simply good fun. Expect curious characters and eye-catching illusions.

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Adrienne Douley
(UK, 2016, 09:59)

A stop motion fairy tale in which Derek, an aquatic creature, tries to win the heart of Tootega, an isolated sea-witch living on an iceberg adrift in the ocean.

The Amazing
Adventures of Awesome
Allison Brownmoore (UK, 2019, 06:15)

The Amazing Adventures of Awesome is a unique, hand-illustrated animation about a young autistic girl who finds herself at the heart of a quiet, but nonetheless powerful, revolution.

Ty Primosch, K-J Mathieson
(USA, 2017, 05:45)

A corkscrew with a screw loose battles a giant glass bottle to uncork seven mysterious lightning bugs. With no dialogue, the story relies on visual storytelling to express acceptance.

The Most Magnificent Thing
Arna Selznick
(Canada, 2019, 22:16)

An inspirational story about a little girl with a creative spirit. She is determined to do great things. Joined by her best friend, her pet dog, the two happily explore the world.

Ole Christoffer Haga
(Norway, 2012, 07:20)

An abandoned dog encounters a friendly stranger on his day off from work. Afraid of losing his new-found friend, he gets attached – quite literally – to the man in question.

The Penguin Who
Couldn’t Swim
Tom Rourke (UK, 2018, 05:31)

The Penguin Who Couldn’t Swim is about a disabled penguin who lives on a rocky island in the southern seas where she feels isolated and set apart from the rest of her family and colony.

Saturday 7 May | 19.15

To Be Human: Global Stories (105 mins)

The human condition comprises all of the characteristics and key events that define the essence of human existence, from birth and growth to desire and aspiration, conflict to mortality. This selection of screenings examines what it means to live on such an extraordinary planet, offering global perspectives into who we are and how we live, both alone and together.

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Dear Hearing World (Subtitled)
Adam Docker
(UK, 2019, 04:05)

Dear Hearing World is a thought-provoking short film directed by Adam Docker, based on a poem written and spoken by deaf spoken-word artist Raymond Antrobus. 

Allegory of the Jam Jar
Ruth Mellaerts & Boris Kuijpers
(Belgium, 2015, 20:00)

Hans is a 50-year-old businessman. He has a challenging job, a wonderful collection of ties and a pristine apartment. One day, a crack appears on the perfect walls of his home.

Lisa Jackson
(Canada, 2009, 06:00)

On a summer day in the 1950s, a girl watches the countryside go by from the backseat of a car. She undergoes a transformation that will turn a gentle voice into a howl of pain.

Black Sheep
Ed Perkins
(UK, 2018, 26:38)

Everything changed for Cornelius Walker on 27 November 2000 when Damilola Taylor was killed in what became one of the UK’s most high-profile murder cases.

Little Pyongyang
Roxy Rezvany
(UK, 2018, 24:01)

Joong-wha Choi – a former soldier in the DPRK – lives in a London suburb. Despite enjoying newfound comforts of British life, he struggles to forget a land that betrayed him.

Claire Oakley
(UK, 2014, 12:00)

Tracks is a short film about a father and son whose relationship is challenged on a hunting trip. It explores the weight of tradition, and humanity’s relationship with nature. 

A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message
Rhea Storr
(UK, 2018, 12:00)

Can you write about this? Do you think I’m Black enough? Do you think I’m white enough? A message to you. Black bodies exist in rural spaces too. 

Friday 27 May | 19.15

Technology, Humans and Machines (95 mins)

Our relationship with – and dependency on – technology grows every day. We are constantly looking to the future, and for the next big thing. Technology connects us, teaches us and assists with our day-to-day lives. We have immense power at our fingertips. In the age of the selfie, immersive technologies and Artificial Intelligence, these films from visionary ASFF alumni consider humanity’s reliance on, and desire for, innovation.

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Flurin Giger
(Switzerland, 2015, 18:00)

Nine characters, four stories, one situation. How to act whilst knowing that something big – something irreversible, that you can’t run away from – is going to happen.

Tobias Ross-Southall & Alex Warren
(UK, 2015, 20:00)

Golden-globe winner Ruth Wilson plays three different women whose lives become fatefully intertwined over one night. A truly haunting examination of the human psyche.

This Time Away
Magali Barbe
(UK, 2019, 13:58)

Nigel is an elderly man haunted by the past and memory of the family he once had. Then, an unexpected visitor arrives and disrupts his routine. Featuring Timothy Spall.

Kate Cox
(UK, 2019, 13:00)

When Jeff and Emelia are gifted a virtual reality set that shows one’s “ideal self” for their wedding anniversary, they discover a secret that could shift their relationship.

Forever (Subtitled)
Mitch McGlocklin
(USA, 2020, 07:25)

A life insurance company uses an AI algorithm to determine the risk of a new applicant. The subsequent denial of the application sparks a period of introspection for the individual. 

The Lonely Orbit
Benjamin Morard & Frederic Siegel
(Switzerland, 2019, 10:00)

A satellite technician’s inability to cope with his solitude causes a chain reaction in space and his mind. The Lonely Orbit is about what happens when we’re left to our own devices.

The Field
Tung Ying Hsieh
(Taiwan, 2019, 13:49)

The Field is a sci-fi romantic thriller that takes place in the near future. Virtual Reality is so well developed that it completely affects people’s perception and consciousness.

Friday 17 June | 19.15

LGBTQ+ Shorts: Defining Gay Cinema (90 mins)

The four films are easy to label as “brutal.” They are, at times, difficult, but stick with them as they unfold into a truly rewarding cinematic experience. The stories deal with the broader themes of mental health and the search for love. Specifically, these projects ask questions about how love can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. These are not your typical LGBTQ+ short films. In partnership with Iris Prize.

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Colonial Gods
Dee Rees
(UK, USA, 2009, 29:00)

Colonial Gods is set in contemporary Butetown, also known as Cardiff Bay and Tiger Bay. A realistic and poignant short drama about the challenges facing a changing community.

Daisy & D

Arkasha Stevenson
(UK, USA, 2017, 22:00)

Power dynamics drastically shift within 24 hours as Daisy and her boyfriend D-Ice struggle to make rent. The film explores complicated love in the ugliest of circumstances.

Hurt’s Rescue
Grant Scicluna
(UK, Australia, 2014 15:00)

Tranh arrives at a farm in South Wales to rescue a man who is being held in captivity as a slave. To do so he must negotiate an unsettling transaction with the matriarch of the family.

Little Man
Eldar Rapaport
(UK, Israel, 2012, 22:00)

Elliot is 30 but unable to form a long lasting relationship – he has a talent for destroying every potential one. He continues his search, moving onto the next available man.

Friday 24 June | 19.15

Raised Voices: Black British Cinema (75 mins)

We Are Parable is renowned for bringing Black British cinema to new audiences. Their nationwide season Who We Are is a celebration of Black cinema from around the world, and is dedicated to ensuring the work of past, present and emerging Black storytellers is amplified and given every possible platform available. This innovative programme features eight shorts which speak to the lived experience of being a Black or Brown person in the UK.

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Rear View
Daniel Rands
(UK 2021, 05:00)

A driver tries some small talk to connect with his Uber passenger, but the conversation ends up raising bigger issues and conflict is most definitely on the cards for these two.

Jennifer Martin
(UK, 2021, 14:00)

An eager couple are interrogated by two Home Office agents about their spousal visa application and endure a series of assessments that become progressively performative.

Lock Off
Akwasi Poku
(UK, 2021, 09:00) 

A misinformed police force, led by a trigger-happy commander, are tasked with bringing down a suspected “criminal organisation.” But are they really? What mission is this?

Tree of Roots
Kwesi Awotwi
(UK, 2021, 07:00)

A British Ghanaian artist returns to the motherland after hearing that his grandfather has died. As he travels around Accra, Kwesi explores the experience of revisiting his roots.

We Are Not The Virus
Michael Jenkins
(UK, 2020, 04:00)

A spoken word film exploring the feeling and experience of isolation through the eyes of black people in Bristol. Originally filmed as part of BBC’s Culture in Quarantine series.

Stationary Peaceful Protest
Xhosa Cole, Shiyi Li
(UK, 2020, 11:31)

Jazz musician Xhosa Cole and animator Shiyi Li collaborate on a powerful and evocative short inspired by the experience of attending a Black Lives Matter protest.

The Conversation
Lanre Malaolu
(UK, 2021, 13:00)

Highlighting the conversation Black people face when communicating their racial experience to white partners through a dynamic fusion of dance and dialogue.

The Last Days
Dipo Baruwa-Etti
(UK, 2021, 13:00)

In a near-future world where you can discover your Death Day, an apolitical woman learns that she and many Black people have been given incorrect dates and seeks justice.

Friday 8 July | 19.15

BAFTA & Oscar Recognised
Short Films from Aesthetica (105 mins)

Every year, Aesthetica Film Festival screens some of the most engaging films by rising stars from the film industry. Many of these people will go onto become household names in future years. We are delighted to present a selection of films from the festival that have either been nominated or won a BAFTA or and Oscar. Here is your chance to engage with storytelling at its very best.

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The Black Cop (Subtitled)
Cherish Oteka
(UK, 2021, 24:06)

The Black Cop follows one former police officer’s experience through being both the victim and perpetrator of racism within the police. A timely and necessary piece for 2021 viewers.

Grandad Was a Romantic
Maryam Mohajer
(UK, 2019, 04:39)

“My grandad was a romantic. He once saw a picture of my granny and realised that she was the love of his life. One day he decided to go meet her.” A charming tale about love.

The Silent Child
Chris Overton
(UK, 2017, 19:55)

Inspired by real life events. A deaf four-year-old girl, born into a middle-class family, lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.

Jennifer Zheng
(UK, 2016, 04:49)

Some things can only be understood with maturity. New light is shed on cultural misunderstandings when a Chinese mother and her British-born daughter speak as adults.

Fauve (Subtitled)
Jeremy Comte
(Canada, 2018, 16:24)

Set in a surface mine, two boys enter into a power game, thinking that it will be completely innocent. But, with only Mother Nature watching, perhaps this isn’t the case.

The Present (Subtitled)
Farah Nabulsi
(Palestine, State of, 2019, 24:16)

On his wedding anniversary, Yusef and his daughter Yasmine set out to the West Bank to buy a gift. Between the soldiers, roads and checkpoints, how easy is it really to go shopping?

Benjamin Cleary
(UK/Ireland, 2015, 12:56)

A reclusive typographer with a debilitating speech problem must face his worst fear as he is thrown into a series of uncomfortable, challenging encounters with strangers.