Rising Stars and Industry Giants

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is set to welcome some incredible headline speakers at the 2021 edition, from Sally Potter and Maxine Peake to Gamba Cole and Francis Lee.

On Friday 5 November, 18:00-19:00, acclaimed writer-director Sally Potter will re-examine her body of work, from Orlando to The Party and the recent The Roads Not Taken. Gerard Johnson, director of Tony, Hyena and Muscle, will be joined by Jason Wood (Home) to discuss his movies, representations of masculinity and the importance of music in his cinema, Thursday 4 November, 13:30-14:30. Wood will also lead a conversation with emerging filmmaker Harry McQueen (Friday 5 November, 15:00-16:00), whose second movie Supernova, with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, drew rave reviews.

The art of documentary filmmaking and the future of the form in the wake of COVID-19 will also be under discussion, with Jeanie Finlay joining the festival on Friday 5 November, 15:00-16:00. The acclaimed documentarian’s work includes Seahorse, Orion and Games of Thrones: The Last Watch. The BAFTA and Oscar-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Sunday 7 November, 12:00-13:00), will discuss his influences in a career that’s included documentary portraits of Diego Maradona, Amy Winehouse, and Ayrton Senna.

Meanwhile, the ASFF Close Up series will also offer audiences the chance to explore the work of distinct and rising voices in British cinema. Francis Lee, the director of God’s Own Country and Ammonite, will explore the way shorts impacted on his cinematic vision (Saturday 6 November, 15:00-16:30). Finally, Alice Seabright, who has written and directed episodes of Sex Education, will be on hand to discuss her journey into the industry, Saturday 6 November, 17:00-18:30.

For those fascinated by performance, there is also a chance to hear the insights from rising actor Gamba Cole (Friday 5 November, 13:30-14:30). Cole is perhaps best known to audiences for his role as Malcolm in BBC’s Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, though he is set for a standout year in 2021, starring in Stephen Merchant’s new film The Outlaws opposite Christopher Walken. 

BAFTA -and BIFA-nominated actress Maxine Peake, whose acclaimed work includes Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1980, Funny Cow and Peterloo, will also join us for a wide-ranging conversation session, discussing acting as authorship and the secrets of empowered storytelling. The session will take place Thursday 4 November, 15:00-16:00.


Masterclasses will take place both in-person and while run live on the dedicated industry channels, 2-7 November. Most sessions will be recorded and available On Demand. For a full list of masterclasses available, click here. To book your festival pass, click here.