Film & TV Muse Festivals

Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2016: Day 4

As the festival draws to a close, Emily Taylor brings you some of the highlights of the fourth and final day

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Image: Exitfilm
Image: Exitfilm

It's the final day of the festival and it's certainly the most time I've spent in cinemas in such a short period. After somehow managing to avoid watching a single comedy for the entire weekend, and with an early start on Monday fast approaching, I thought I could do with a laugh. So, I made my way to a packed comedy screening in a small theatre in Friargate. One of my favourites from the screening was Allhallowtide, directed by Tia Salisbury which follows the relationship between Molly and her housemate. Molly happens to be dead, and has been for 180 years. It's sweet, charming, funny, and manages to subvert any horror expectations and cliches. It shows how much can be done with a small cast, in only one location and with limited special effects. A comedy which also subverts genre cliches, though is a complete departure in tone, is A Done Deal. A dark comedy reminiscent of films like In Bruges, it follows a hitman having a coffee with his target before dispatching him. Made by a film fan for film fans, the short spends most of the run time discussing Star Wars. The juxtaposition of mundane conversations in melodramatic circumstances is always going to elicit laughs, and this film is no expectation.

Image: Yes Repeat No Films
Image: Yes Repeat No Films

Whilst the former two felt more like comedy sketches, We are Happy, directed by Matt Winn, feels like it could develop into a feature film. It follows Sarah and Paul, whose friends ecstatically announce that they are getting divorced, which leads to them picking apart their own marriage. It treads into familiar territory dubbed the 'indie comedy', with fast, quippy dialogue and quirky characters. The two leads have real chemistry, and it feels like a very honest depiction of a modern relationship. This turned into a short I could have happily watched it for much longer than its seventeen-minute running time.

Though these next two films were dubbed under the enigmatic term 'Drama', both made me laugh more than some of the supposed comedies. Hausarrest is a Black Mirror-esque Swiss feature directed by Matthias Sahli, set in the near future. The protagonist Max in sentenced to house arrest for an unknown crime where his main companion is his ankle monitor called Percy, who seems to go to any length to assist Max. Unafraid of being a slow burner, it leads to a climax that is as funny as it is chilling. It's worth sitting through to the end credits with this one, with one of the funniest closing sequences I've seen in a while.

One of the standout films from the entire weekend was The Mausoleum directed by Lauri Randla. It tells the story of the pathologist Aleksei Abrikosov, who embalmed Lenin's body. Disaster strikes when they find a fly on the end of Lenin's nose - and a fly hasn't been quite so scary since Jeff Goldblum. It's a snapshot of life in Russia under Stalin, which doesn't feel as though it even strays that far from the truth, despite the almost absurdist picture this film presents. The hypocrisy is both presented as humorous and terrifying; in the preservation of Lenin's body they wish to overcome death, while the protagonist's neighbours are shot without a second glance - they try and achieve immortality in a place where most life seems disposable. A tragicomedy managing to both be truly tense, scary, and at the same time completely ludicrous, what's possibly most chilling of all is how close to the truth this film is.

Four days down. None to go. Now back to the university work I have been putting off.

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