Mirror, Mirror

How do we decide who we are, or perhaps, who we want to be? Mirror, Mirror is the fifth strand of films at ASFF 2021.

At Aesthetica, our programmes are curated into six daily strands that offer a wide-ranging view of how film has the power to ignite, transform and change the world. Curation at Aesthetica is centred around powerful storytelling, compelling narratives and ideas.

Identity is a complex, multi-faceted and fluid concept. It makes up who we are as individuals. Arguably, our memories, experiences and values are more important than where we are from. However, the way we see ourselves is often very different to the way other people see us. Through ten reels and one feature, spanning a multitude of genres, Strand 5 considers the intricacies of selfhood in the 21st century.

In Collective Power, 12 engaging films consider the role that fashion plays in identity. Showcasing shorts from Spain, Italy, China, Germany, Japan and the UK, this programme is a call for liberation from preconceived notions, making you aware of your subconscious, asking you to pay attention in a world where this is challenging. Among them, Burberry – Inner Life sees actress Teresa Li explore how the characters she plays intertwine with her own individuality, whilst Namatanje Zimba’s Me, Myself and My Hair challenges notions of black beauty.

Those looking for some drama can find it across two reels. The collection Brand New Me looks at the things that shape our lives – some big, some small – when decisions are actively taken or when fate makes its own choice. Into the Unknown, meanwhile, is a series of six films that journey through freedom and fantasy. From My Own, as a nonbinary person struggles to find a place for gender fluidity in the world of ballet, to the Sundanese drama Al-Sit, as a 15-year-old girl faces an arranged marriage, characters find poetry in the human existence.

Tom Young’s feature-length Ribblehead, a film that veers between horror, fantasy and sci-fi, is also showcased. Starring Gareth Bennet-Ryan, he plays a formerly successful writer struggling to pen his second book when a visit to a local landmark unlocks his creative potential but draws him into a dangerous world.

Mirror, Mirror is a strand that embraces alternative forms of expression. Confronting Ourselves sees artists using poetry, performance, photography and other forms to explore the question of identity. Fragmented Memories is an experimental reel that reflects on memories and connections, weaving together past, present and future narratives. Blast brings dance-themed shorts together from Russia, Brazil, Germany, and the UK to explore how we exist as individuals within communities, interacting, creating and protesting.


In venue, strands will be screened across a variety of days, whilst, virtually, strands will be released daily and accrue throughout the course of the live festival week.

The 2021 Aesthetica Short Film Festival runs in-person from 2-7 November and online from 2-30 November. Tickets start from £25. Book your passes at https://www.asff.co.uk/tickets