Guest blog by Mike McKenny
As if film loving Yorkshire folk didn’t have enough to choose from in November, what with the always exciting Bradford Animation Festival (BAF November 8 – 12) and the comprehensive behemoth, Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF – November 3 – 20). Well there is also the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) taking place in York (November 3 – 6).
Organised by the specialist art magazine Aesthetica, the festival has an awe inspiring amount of short films packed into its three days (four if you include the opening evening).
The films are split into numerous sections: Art/Experimental, Dance, Music Video, Drama, Thriller, Comedy, Documentary, Family Friendly and Animation (Adult). Each of which is stuffed full of films and each strand clearly labelled in the guide to allow you to easily plot your route through the visual milieu.
One of the most unique and instantly distinguishable features of ASFF is the fact that it is screening all throughout York centre in a fascinating array of venues. Amongst which there is the established centre for independent film, City Screen Picturehouse. There are also screenings in historic sites such as Merchant Adventurers’ Hall (constructed in 1357) and contemporary settings like the small gastro-bar, Thirteen Thirty One.
The fact that with a three day festival pass (only £20) you can make your own way around the many venues and piece together your own programme really gives the event a festival feel.
Don’t worry, whether you’re not one to be wandering around, you have your favourite venue or if it’s just chucking it down, then you can simply take root in one place and binge on everything on offer throughout that day.
In addition to the staggering amount of short films playing, there are also some alluring special events and industry based speakers. There will be screenwriting tips from Mark Herman (Brassed Off) and an exploration of animated character creation from Alex Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) amongst others. The pick of the events for me though, is a talk from Barry Ryan, head of production at Warp Films (Behind the two contemporary British masterpieces Dead Man’s Shoes and Four Lions).
Coming back to the opening paragraph, I can’t help but think that having three amazing festivals so close to each other, at pretty much the same time, is unfortunate for us mere mortals that can only be in one place at once. Although surely this level of activity throughout the region can only be a good thing, and is testament to the appetite and support for independent cinema in Yorkshire.
Mike McKenny (Twitter: @destroyapathy)