When Life Gives You Lemons

As part of this year’s curatorial programming, we preview Strand 3: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade – films that look at the brighter side of life.

Hope, life, trouble, optimism, positivity, difficulty, motivation. These words define the ups and downs of life. The glass is half full. This selection of films takes a lighter look at life and reminds us of all the joy and beauty that surround us. It reminds us to stop, slow down and look around in order to embrace the here and the now. Spanning nine film programmes that take in a multitude of genres, from fashion to family-friendly, from animation to advertising, these films inspire, unite, and join as we take a moment to admire the power and resilience of the everyday person.

Comedy features prominently in When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade. The Biz is a selection of six shorts that look at the realities of a life in showbiz, like Lightning Tests, about a struggling actor, or Selling Out, written by and starring Lucy Scott-Smith. In the second reel, Notes of Discordance, the chosen shorts set out to explore the point at where humour is to be found in conflict.  

In animated reel Happiness Is Always Your Own, audiences will be served up six shorts that examine perception and introspection, which offer a chance to contemplate questions about life and our place within it. Hailing from the UK, USA, Ireland and Switzerland, these range from a charming adaptation of The Owl and the Pussycat to The Edge, a tale that calls into question the very parameters of our own realities.

Drama is ably represented in Searching for Hope, a sextet of shorts that asks, in this most turbulent of decades, what does the light at the end of the tunnel look like? In films like Hope and You Promise?, audiences will meet characters on personal journeys that seek out hope and a better life.

Snapshots of the world around us also play a prominent part in Pillars of Community. This documentary reel demonstrates the importance of community, whether in a Bingo Hall in London, a printing press in Sierra Leone or even on the banks of the River Severn, as a group of fishermen gather to track down the elusive juvenile Elver eel, in The Elvermen.

Two documentary features also take centre stage in this strand. Bank Job, by artist/filmmaking team Dan Edelstyn and Hilary Powell, questions money, the economy and a system that has left millions impoverished. Meanwhile, Alex Wroten’s 23rd Century Giants: The Story of Renaldo & The Loaf examines the surreal soundscapes of the eponymous English musical duo – David Janssen and Brian Poole.


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. Learn more here.