York film fest day 4: thrills and spills in the dark

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The Secret Number: “fantastic drama”

Review: The Aesthetica Short Film Festival
Day 4: Sunday, November 11



On Sunday I got off to a leisurely start with homemade croissants and orange juice before a quick motorcycle ride into the city. My goal today was to visit the rest of the venues and cover the genres not already seen, so some experimental and comedy films were required.

I wanted to see the Yorkshire Film Archive and I also felt that I hadn’t seen enough art film so was planning a trip to St Mary’s Church late afternoon.

I was of course late arriving at St William’s College for experimental screening 4, missing Khalil The Great (2011) but catching just about all of Home by Matthew Kennedy from the University of York.

Described as “a journey through the subconscious from the perspective of an immigrant”, in this case a Chinese girl, this is a delicate, beautiful film that reminded me of a trip to Hong Kong a few years ago with the sights and sounds of China. Matthew also made very good use of soundscape music.
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

The next film was Spare (2011), a filmic interpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s A Wheatfield, with Cypresses – and having seen the painting I don’t see the connection.
Ian’s rating: ★★★

The next showing was a batch of films under the What On Earth banner, billed as a “series looking at the state of species and pressures on our planet”. Here are my one line reviews.

Landfill – a film about, errm, landfill
Ian’s rating: ★★★

Missed the title of this film but I have no idea what it was about except it had an interesting male-sung folk song
Ian’s rating: ★★

Clockwork – had a lot of animated clockwork silhouette rabbits hopping all over the screen
Ian’s rating: ★★

Commonwealth – a very uninteresting film about guess what!
Ian’s rating: ★★

Out of the Blue: photos of the sky with a few aeroplane trails, luckily it was short
Ian’s rating:

Einstein And The Honey Bee – what a joy this film is, it’s funny with fantastic animation and you’ll even learn something new
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

The next film as per the programme was L’Invitation Au Voyage (2011), a very strange Australian film and the only one that could be called experimental.
Ian’s rating: ★★

That left us with the last film in this screening, The Strategy of Madam Breto (2012), a brilliantly funny documentary from Spain about how an old lady catches and kills rats
Ian’s rating: ★★★★★

I now had time for some lunch and a visit to Barnitts (to check out kitchen stools – don’t ask!!) before comedy screening 3 at the festival hub 1331. I was still very early so I sat in the bar and had a drink.

Fifteen minutes before the start of the showing I decided to go in, only to be told that it was full to capacity, so for the first time I played the journalist card and asked them to save be a seat at the last comedy show of the festival at 3.30pm.

I decided to go and see if I could see some of the artist films in a better location, in this case St Mary’s Church. As I arrived I noticed that artist screening 2 was showing and I was again watching the end of Bare Breath and Nocturne #2 (see day 2 review).

Although not without its problems, because dark passages of film were difficult to see because the church space is so light, this was a far better location to watch film than the gallery space at Bar Lane.

After enjoying Nocturne #2 again, and making a note to contact the film maker as it has no sound and I’d like to have the opportunity to score it, I watched Doran (2012), which has some interesting film of rural Ireland but has a terrible voice over which made no sense to me.
Ian’s rating:

The last film of this screening was Emerald City (2012), a truly experimental film with fantastic soundscape music. It suffered from being very dark and difficult to see in St Mary’s. It also need a better audio system then the mono speaker that was provided.
Ian’s rating: ★★★★
Score 4/5.

Next on my list was to watch the Yorkshire Film Archive at York Explore Library (why does the library have to have explore in its name?). I arrived to find the place stinking of burnt food (that’s what happens when you stick a trendy stupid café in a reading library).

Seasons is four Yorkshire shorts, using archive film footage from around the region and has been watch by over 80,000 people. I loved all four films, the only gripe I have is that apart from winter all of the music is really inappropriate.

Spring had dance music with voice over that made it sound like The Avalanches
Ian’s rating: ★★★

Summer used a weird glockenspiel pop soundtrack
Ian’s rating: ★★★

Autumn – suddenly turned into trip hop that would make Tricky turn over in his grave (if he were dead)
Ian’s rating: ★★★

Winter – a perfectly appropriate music score
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

I left the still burnt food smelling “Explore” library and dashed back to 1331 for comedy screening 4 only to find that the films has started early. The ASFF staff had very kindly kept me a seat at the back of the small auditorium, but it was so dark that I couldn’t see my way. As there were people seated in the aisles and on every spare bit of floor, I kept tripping and standing on people as I made my way to the seat.

At this point I have to say I felt rather embarrassed and it does beg the question as to why one of the most popular genres of film was in such a small room. 1331’s small (but perfectly formed) cinema has very comfortable leather armchair seating for about 20 but this place was packed out with at least double that. Next year ASFF put comedy in the Mansion House or the Yorkshire Museum please.

Anyway here are my one line reviews of comedy screening 4:

Just Desserts (2012) – I can’t score as I was busy walking over people to get to my seat

Your Health Ltd (2011) – a very funny Swedish film, spoilt a little by the last ten seconds
Ian’s rating: ★★★

Beast (2011) – flawed but mildly funny black comedy
Ian’s rating: ★★★

For Elsie (2012) – not really a comedy but very good anyway
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

Happy Birthday Jim (2011) – a well-executed but seen it all before idea
Ian’s rating: ★★

David Winstone, who made the "very good" For Elsie

I was planning to head home but the following tweet had me heading for the City Screen

It felt like fate or some weird calling from ASFF that I had to go to one last screening, so thriller screening 5 was to be it…

Scarecrow (2012) I found was predictable and a little bit silly
Ian’s rating: ★★

Red Letter (2012) was really good until about the last five minutes. And I have still no idea what the red letter was about
Ian’s rating: ★★

First Date (2012) I quite liked with the female lead being very believable
Ian’s rating: ★★★

Red (2012) didn’t make any sense to me but it was only five minutes thankfully
Ian’s rating:

The Secret Number (2011) – fantastic drama from the USA that was very well executed
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

So the four days of the festival were over apart from the awards, and my best and worst of the festival which I’ll cover in one last blog.



Ian J Cole
Ian J Cole is a composer, sound designer and producer who splits his time between writing experimental music and being the creative force behind the pop group Katie And The Questions

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