Interview with ASFF 2013 Filmmaker Mary DeRosa Hughes

Filmmakers from all over the world will be flocking to York this November to catch their film at this year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival and to take part in the variety of industry events on offer. Just one this year’s attendees is American filmmaker Mary DeRosa Hughes, who chats to us here about why she’ll be making the transatlantic journey this autumn with partner Curt Apduhan and what she’s looking forward to most about ASFF 2013. DeRosa’s wonderfully dark drama Anniversary will screen throughout the festival at St William’s College, a former priest’s college built in 1461 in the sight of York Minster.

ASFF: Why should audiences check out your drama Anniversary at this year’s ASFF?
MDRH: Anniversary upends “outer appearances”. Anyone who has ever envied another’s position can relate to this story, as can anyone who has ever had a fantasy that they feared others would judge them for. Anniversary is a savvy, sexy exploration into the dissatisfaction we all struggle with at different times in our lives.

ASFF: Anniversary has some quite dark themes. Where did the inspiration come from?
MDRH: The seed of Anniversary came from Curt and I wondering about exploring the concept of the price one pays for compromise in a short film. We took some inspiration from a good friend of mine who was going through major upheaval and questioning what she was doing with her own life, both in and outside of her marriage. Her struggle definitely informed the script, but I think the dilemma of opting to live life on our own terms versus trying to live it through – or for – someone else is something we all grapple with at one time or another, in varying degrees.

ASFF: You’re travelling from the USA to attend this year’s festival with Director Curt Apduhan. What is it about ASFF that makes you want to make such a big journey?
MDRH: I know that people roll their eyes when you say “it’s an honour just to be included”… but, cliché or not, it’s the truth! Once we found out Anniversary had made the line-up, there was no way we were going to miss out on attending ASFF. It’s clear that York has become a haven for artists and filmmakers, and we can’t wait to explore the city itself as well as the festival.

ASFF: How do you feel film festivals in the USA compare to British festivals?
MDRH: To be honest, this will be the first British festival I’ve attended, so it’s a little hard to compare. But I do feel that there is an open mindedness in the UK that can often be lacking in America when it comes to welcoming films (and filmmakers) that don’t necessarily fit neatly into an established paradigm. The wide variety of shorts that made it into ASFF this year is a testament to that!

ASFF: Aside from drama, which other screenings will you be taking in across the weekend?
MDRH: I really hope to take in some of every genre, but I am a huge fan of comedy, so that will definitely be near the top of my list. Humour is different everywhere, and it will be fun to see what’s considered hilarious in different parts of the world. Pregnant and Me, Me, Me are two films that really caught my eye in the programme. I also love documentaries, and my partner Curt has shot several great ones. So, I will make sure I get my fill of those as well!

ASFF: As a filmmaker, which of the industry events are you most looking forward to attending?
MDRH: It’s hard to choose, but I am really excited to be attending the closing night Awards Ceremony. After spending the weekend enjoying what I’m sure will be an impressive array of films, it will be wonderful to have the opportunity to say hello to and shake the hands of the filmmakers whose works I have admired. This event is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate being part of something as inspired as ASFF.

1. Image still from Anniversary Curt Apduhan (Small Pond Films), USA, 2011