Film & TV Muse

Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2013: Round-up of Day 2

Braving the miserable conditions, Kate Barlow brings you the highlights of the second day of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival

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The second day of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival was host to rain and practically Arctic (i.e. Northern) conditions. However, Saturday's schedule, which boasted of an even wider selection of films than the day before, tempted many into York's city centre.
York's Barley Hall
York's Barley Hall

The first location of the day was restored medieval house Barley Hall which was host to a selection of the Documentary shorts. The range of the collection was wider than in any of the other genres, taking us from St Martin, a small village in the Italian Alps, to Buenos Aires in a few minutes, putting a film concentrating on a salmon smoker from London and one about the Argentinian concentration camps back to back. Two of the best were Born Positive, about three Londoners who were born HIV positive, and The Other Side of the Road, taken from the perspective of a woman who lives above the famous Abbey Road crossing, a humorous exploration of the ridiculousness of that band's legacy. However, my favourite of the selection and of the day had to be Abuelas, a moving story of an elderly woman who, after losing her daughter in one of the Argentinian concentration camps, finds her granddaughter. Mixing voice-over with part stop-motion, part animation, the short was stylish, beautiful and genuinely affecting.
A short from Afarin Eghbal's stunning 'Abuelas'
A short from Afarin Eghbal's stunning 'Abuelas'

Next was the Drama Screening 9, located in the equally impressive King's Manor. First to screen was Sunday Morning, following a girl's boredom on a Sunday morning. Revealing darker undertones throughout the film, the narrative works its way up to a dramatic climax. This was followed by Hibernation, about an astronaut preparing to enter a 50-year 'Hibernation' programme. The most visually stunning of the selection, offering breathtaking views of space, Hibernation kept the audience's eyes fixed to screen. A further highlight of the group was Swedish drama Kilimanjaro. The film centres around box factory worker Goran who wants to find more meaning in his life by taking more action. However, he gets more than he bargained for when an unexpected black hole appears in his living room, swallowing his wife with it. Surreal and funny, Kilimanjaro was a drama that particularly stood out.

After a half a day of film success stories, I felt it was about time to put myself out of my comfort zone. I therefore made my way to St. William's College for one of the experimental screenings. As the credits rolled for the first film, Flicker, a "beautiful and fragmented story of loss and self-discovery" (apparently), I began to wonder what exactly I had got myself into. By the end of the second short others had already begun to quietly file out of the cinema; I decided to stick it out. I was rewarded for my efforts with Londoners, a vintage film shot entirely on a 100-year-old wooden hand-cranked 35mm camera but depicting modern day London. The film was successful in illustrating the atmosphere of the city, even if its main revelation was that Londoners really enjoy waving at cameras. While all six of the films on show were undoubtably beautiful and contained much artistic merit, I found it hard to gain much more for the experience than a sense of looking at pretty pictures. Nevertheless, I don't regret going, and I'm sure there will be others who will find the experience more rewarding. That is one of the incredible things about the festival: there really is something for everyone.

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