I often wonder to myself what constitutes a good, independent film. Among those things that come to mind are originality, authenticity and all-round entertainment. What was perhaps less obvious to me was the entire culture surrounding the independent film industry and the diversity that it constitutes – something the Aesthetica Short Film Festival has taught me over such a short period of time.
For this reason alone, ASFF, that returns to York for its 3rd year on November 7th, must be championed for its creative approach to film, involvement of international motion picture and increasing reputation as a major arts festival. Nationally renown for it’s rich selection of shorts, the festival draws in film-lovers from across the world to partake in their viewings. This year, Aesthetica will be showing three hundred short films from thirty different countries – something I personally find painful to resist.
Alongside the ‘aesthetics’ of the festival, York’s historic background and unrivaled beauty as one of Britain’s most visited cities is sure to garner much attention. The festival has in place 15 remarkable venues that synthesize the historic and modern features of the city, combining a number of iconic locations such as Kings Manor and the more recently built City Screen. This ensures that people will not only be sectioned to a specific venue, though be taken on a journey through the majestic footpaths and surprisingly small streets York has to offer.
If the historical pleasantries of the city have not yet won you over, this year’s content of the festival itself is sure to do so. Aesthetica promises an eclectic variety of genres including drama, documentary, comedy, thriller, experimental, art films and a new family friendly programme showcasing the festival’s ability to broaden their horizons out to a more diverse audience. Among other surprises are the much anticipated famous faces that will be attending the festival. A few who will be involved in these talks include members of Film London, the countries leading film and media agency, Channel 4 and Film 4, all occurring on Friday 8th November (though note in different venues/at different times). Other perhaps more well-known appearances include Alice Lowe – English actress and writer who has appeared in several box office hits such as Hot Fuzz and Sightseers – as well as ‘Warp Film’ producer Barry Ryan who will be discussing his own projects including the famous comedy Four Lions and award-winning British Drama This is England.
These exciting events, however, should not deter you from the main principles of ASFF – the recognition of independent film. This year is especially prevalent in showcasing international films from guest countries including Kuwait, India and Mexico that divulge cultural talent as well as providing a keen interest to those who are unaware of the foreign film industry. Films from these countries differ in terms of genre and audience, perhaps best shown in the Indian movies Friday Night and Just That Sort of Day – the former constituting an escalation of ominous activity and the latter focusing on the spontaneity of everyday life. Certainly therefore, the festival’s promise of a diverse set of short films is a promise that is not to be broken.
As the Aesthetica Short Film Festival continues to evolve as an advocate for the best independent films worldwide, it does so without any shortcomings or doubts. One can expect nothing from this weekend’s events that does not include innovation, novelty and complete originality. With the poor expectations of countless Hollywood films being produced habitually as we speak, it is only our duty as devoted movie-lovers to embrace and congratulate festivals such as Aesthetica for their work. If ever I were to explain to someone what truly constitutes a good, independent movie, a huge part of me would sway towards the magnificence of Aesthetica.
Details of ASFF
When: Thursday, November 7th, to Sunday, November 10th.
Where: Multiple venues, both modern and historic, across the city of York.
Ticket Prices: 3 Day festival pass £18 – £30 (passes for individual days/events are too available though are subject to a first come, first serve basis).