Credit: ASFF promotional collage
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival was held in York once again this year.
With over 300 short films spread out over the four days in locations around the city, I was able to sample only a small portion of the this year’s selection. Nevertheless, I watched some excellent films and in general the quality was pretty consistent.
The films were divided into categories, from which I attended screenings in Drama, Comedy, Animation, Experimental and Artist’s Films. Each screening had films which stood out from the rest, and each of the five categories I saw are represented here.
So, without further ado, here are the best films that I saw at the festival this year.
France, 2014, 04:00
Reminiscent of those incredible scenes in Under the Skin where Scarlett Johansson’s character leads her victim’s into the black sludge, Under creates a fantastic atmosphere in just four minutes. Shot entirely under water, the film’s inky cinematography makes for enthralling viewing and one of the best films I saw that day.
You can watch Under for yourself using this Vimeo link.
Somewhere down the Line (Animation)
Julien Regnard (Cartoon Saloon)
Ireland, 2014, 10:19
Somewhere Down the Line tells the story of one man’s entire life as he travels down the long highway. We see him first as a child watching his parents fight. In a drastic act of rebellion he climbs into the driver’s seat while his parents are outside, sets off down the line and thus begins his life on the road. In terms of story it was one of the more ambitious animations I saw and while it goes on a couple of minutes too long, it otherwise pulls it off rather competently. This was one of the best animations I saw at the festival and one of my favourite films of the day.
You can watch the trailer for Somewhere Down the Line using this Vimeo link.
Josema Roig (Starman Films)
USA, 2014, 20:00
Out of all of the categories, Drama was probably the most consistent in terms of quality. I would call all of the films I saw good, but a few did stand out and Starman is one of them. The story of a man in a difficult situation, who has to decide to make sacrifices that hurt in order to do the thing he loves. There’s some very nice cinematography here, and the final scene is extremely tense. As the film closes we are given a slow zoom on the man’s face, as he ponders what he has given up to make it this far.
You can watch the trailer for Starman using this Vimeo link.
Pardon the Intrusion (Drama)
Louise C. Galizia (Cue Pictures)
UK, 2014, 20:00
A heart warming story of a lonely elderly woman and a troubled young woman who become secret best friends. The lead performance is great, you can see desperation and melancholy in the woman’s eyes. The acting from one of the side performances distracts a little bit, but otherwise the film is very good.
You can watch the trailer for Pardon the Intrusion using this Vimeo link.
Iddo Soskolne, Janne Reinikainen (Bufo Ltd)
Finland, 2015, 15:00
Probably the film on this list with the most interesting premise, Reunion is about a young girl who died many years ago and is now a spirit who welcomes people into the afterlife. Her brother was somehow involved in the girl’s death, and today is the day on which he dies.
Funny, smart and imaginative; Reunion’s Scandinavian setting reminded me a lot of Let The Right One In and is probably the best film I saw at the festival!
You can watch the trailer for Reunion using this Vimeo link.
Er und Sie (Comedy)
Marco Gadge (In one Media)
Germany, 2015, 15:25
Shot in one continuous take, He and She is a film about a man who finds out that his girlfriend no longer wants to move in with him, as he, and all of his belongings with him, is on the way to their planned new house.
While not the funniest comedy in the category (it could just as easily have been tagged as a Drama instead), it was probably the best film. Powerfully acted and with a strong script, this was another of the highlights of the day.
You can watch the trailer for Er und Sie using this Vimeo link.
Marie Enthoven (Ezekiel)
Belgium, 2014, 21:00
Taxistop isn’t the most imaginative comedy, a man has to car share with a group of oddballs, but it is manages to be funny despite this. Antoine (the protagonist) is a likable character and we watch his gradual descent into insanity as the day’s events go from bad to worse before climaxing in a triumphant ending.
You can watch the trailer for Taxistop using this YouTube link.
Diamonds (Artist’s film)
Sigga Bjorg Sigurdardottir (Independent)
Iceland, 2015, 08:42
It’s always nice to see a film which doesn’t take itself too seriously, particularly when its rubbing shoulders with something which is trying far too hard to be profound. This was the case with Diamonds, a very strange and quite funny watercolour animation. The closing rendition of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ as the wet paint spreads across the canvas is wonderfully surreal.
Rhiannon Evans (National Film & Television School)
UK, 2015, 07:33
Earlier this year Pixar showed us their view of inside someone’s head with Inside Out, and Rhiannon Evans has given us her version with Fulfilament. Here the brain is made up of many different shaped and sized light bulbs and we follow one which is searching for somewhere to fit in. It’s not the most visually stunning animation, but gets bonus marks for creating an imaginative world and telling a nice story.
You can watch the trailer for Fulfilament using this Vimeo link.
Mental Space (Artist’s film)
UK, 2014, 06:43
Probably the most experimental film on this list, Mental Space is a series of superimposed images like the one above. The colours and music work well together to create a psychedelic atmosphere.
You can watch an excerpt from Mental Space using this Vimeo link.
Featured Image: ASFF promotional collage