The final night of the sixth annual Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) was filled with anticipation as over 200 people gathered to see which 15 people had been chosen to take home the coveted Festival Awards. In addition to selecting a winner from each category, the Jury also presented four other awards on the night: The Festival Winner, the People’s Choice, the York Youth Award and The Northern Film School Award for Best Screenplay.
This year, a new award was introduced for Best Screenplay in the Official Selection. Sponsored by The Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University, this award is accompanied by a £1000 cash prize. The inaugural winner of the Best Screenplay Award was Daina O.Pusic with her comedy Rhonna & Donna. Conjoined twin sisters are having their biggest fight to date. Donna is in the school production of Romeo and Juliet whilst Rhonna has no desire to be involved.
The overall Festival Winner was Fabio Palmieri, chosen for the powerful film Irregulars, also Best Documentary, shown at the ASFF Opening Night, whilst Stephen Parker captivated audiences with short drama Dust and Resin, taking home the People’s Choice Award.
A specially curated programme of short films from the Official Selection were shown to young people aged 11-14 at the ASFF Youth Engagement Day on Thursday. This programme aims to inspire young people to develop a life-long relationship with cinema. These young festival-goers were invited to nominate their favourite film for the York Youth Award, and the winner was Peter Stanley-Ward with Litterbugs.
After four days packed with international visitors, masterclasses, industry networking, film screenings and panel discussions, the breadth demonstrated by the festival in its Official Selection resulted in a startling and beautiful collection of films. Amidst this fierce competition the category winners were chosen: Victor Claramunt’s Breaking Rules received the Best Fashion Film Award and the Advertising Winner was John Wright with Robo-Trumble.
The winning film of Best Experimental was Two Signs’ Den: Epilogue by Bruno Decc, while the Dance Award went to Marlene Millar for Lay Me Low. In Animation, the winner was Sunit Parekh-Gaihede’s Machine, revealing a couple struggles to cope with tragedy. Whilst living in the midst of a massive reconstruction in a small village by the sea, they must confront the changes that surround them.
As a supporter of cross-discipline arts and the publishers of the international art and culture magazine, Aesthetica was pleased to offer the Artists’ Film Award to Callum Hill for Solo Damas, the portrayal of a fragmented journey through the dark canal ways on the outskirts of Mexico City. The female protagonist attempts to reconcile with the past through an unsettling pilgrimage.
The Best Music Video went to Beardyman – Mountainside by Lewis Rose. This is a unique music video for UK Beatbox champion and musical chameleon Beardyman. The unexpected story follows a funny and simultaneously bittersweet tale of lost raver love.
The Drama Award went to Silence by Dejan Mrkic. A young musician begins to tackle the fragility of her own identity when her hearing – and in extension her livelihood – starts to fade into a seemingly muted existence.
Best Comedy was awarded to Detsky Graffam’s 90 Grad Nord while Best Thriller went to Dawn Han for Cork Man. A man with a hole in his head tries to hide his deformity from the world until one day he is pursued by a mysterious stranger.
As a BAFTA-Qualifying festival, all films selected to screen at ASFF are also then eligible to be nominated for a BAFTA. This year, in its sixth incarnation, ASFF further proved its reputation and influence as a promoter and supporter of film culture across the UK. BBC Commissioning Editor, Kristian Smith, joined writer of Raised by Wolves Caroline Moran to discuss development and pitching at a sell-out masterclass, while actress and writer Alice Lowe (World’s End, Sightseers) spoke about how to bring a character to life to an audience of over 400, including education groups, industry professionals, filmmakers and film fans.
Other hosts included representatives from Creative England, Creative Scotland, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Ecosse Films, BBC, London College of Fashion, UAL and more. BAFTA-award winning directors, storytellers and other industry specialists joined filmmakers and film fans from around the world to celebrate short film and encourage discovery.
1. ASFF 2016 Winners. Courtesy of Jim Poyner.