York film fest day one: ‘I only wish it had been longer’

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The trailer for The Sugar Bowl, a highlight of the first night’s viewing

Review: The Aesthetica Short Film Festival
Day 1: Thursday, November 8



The idea of covering the Aesthetica Short Film Festival or ASFF as it is known, came in the form of an email from Mr YorkMix Editor asking, “as a short film-maker are you interested in covering this festival for us?”

Of course I jumped at the chance, although calling myself a “short film-maker’ is in fact a gross misrepresentation of what I do. I make short visualisations to accompany my music compositions and have in fact been searching for a real film maker to make some stunning visual interpretations of my music, so who knows who I might meet at this festival?

Aesthetica (if you didn’t know) is an arts and culture magazine based here in York which was founded in 2002 by Cherie Federico and Dale Donley while they were both students at York St John. Aesthetica magazine’s content covers literature, music, film and theatre and has approximately 60,000 readers nationally and internationally.

Last year Cherie decided to start a film festival and so ASFF was born, which I have to say completely passed me by. I wasn’t out of the country last November, so god knows how I missed it.

I turned up at venue number 1, the Visit York tourist information centre on Blake Street (pictured right), to find two very friendly members of the Aesthetica staff handing me a ASFF tote bag with a copy of the magazine, a programme and my three-day wrist band pass. The girls told me they had been very busy meeting some of the film-makers and other visitors to the festival and everything was going well so far. I bid them farewell and said I’d see them at the festival launch.

So it was a quick dash home for food and a shower before arriving at the City Screen (Venue 2) for the 7pm festival opening. I arrived bang on time to find the place heaving; it seemed that everyone was there for the launch. There was a real buzz about the place with free wine and nibbles and a chap in the corner playing the theme music to Film 2012 on a piano.

Here I explained to Helena Culliney (Aesthetica’s marketing officer) I’d be writing about the event in the style of a blog similar to what I’d done at Edinburgh Fringe Festival when I wrote about the 36 shows I watched in five and a half days. She said I was mad and pointed out that I had 200 film to go at.

I said I would do my best.

Movies, movies, movies… Photograph: Dylan's Room Facebook page

As we all trouped into one of the cinemas, I bumped into Julian (no relation) Cole from the Press and as we got to our seats we found a goodie bag with magazines, a KitKat, a CD by someone called Vanessa Simmons, a beer mat, soap and other bits and pieces.

The room was packed and then the speeches started first by Cherie Federico, then a local councillor (why?) and then a chap called Stuart from York St John the main sponsor of the festival. Stuart did say he’d be really brief (but he wasn’t) anyway after about 15 minutes we settled down to watch a sample of films.


The first of which was Perfect by Anya Camilleri (2005 – Thriller Screening 4). Filmed in 2001 it stars Steven Moyer of True Blood fame and was described in the ASFF programme as: “A redundant estate agent takes revenge on the world.” I found this 14-minute film well-acted and interesting but not thrilling and missing something that I couldn’t put my finger on.
Ian’s rating: ★★

Perfect was followed by Dylan’s Room by Layke Anderson (2012 – Drama Screening 3) which was a different kettle of fish altogether. Here is a very poignant and moving 20-minute film about a mother finding solace in her son’s deserted bedroom, it was brilliant and very well crafted and I will look out for other work by Layke Anderson.
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

The third film was a documentary called The Sugar Bowl (2012 – Documentary Screening 5) which was a fascinating 20 minute tail of the rise and fall of a Philippine island’s sugar cane industry. It had some fantastic interviews and was beautifully filmed, I only wish it had been longer.
Ian’s rating: ★★★★★

This was followed by Long Distance Information by Douglas Hart (2011 – Drama Screening 8) a very short but very funny seven-minute film starring Peter Mullan (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, Riff-Raff and Tyrannosaur) which should be in the comedy section and is a must-see. If I say anymore I may give the twist away.
Ian’s rating: ★★★★

Lastly we were treated to Photoshopping by Mark Davenport (2011 – Comedy Screening 1) a darkly comic tale about a celebrity photograph hunter who is obsessed with breaking the world record for the number of celebrities she has had her photograph taken with. This 15 minute film is a delight and very much worth seeing.
Ian’s rating: ★★★

After the films we were invited to an after show party down in the Basement Bar of the City Screen which had a DJ and plenty of fun. I only stayed for one drink before heading home to plan Friday’s viewing.



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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