Who won the prizes in York’s biggest ever Aesthetica Short Film Festival?

Alfie Barker’s Hanging On: Best Of Festival Award winner at November’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival

ALFIE Barker’s docu-drama Hanging On has won the Best of Festival Award at the 2021 Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York.

Barker’s film, spotlighting the strength of community in a neighbourhood that unites when forced to the edge of extinction, also received the Best Documentary Award at November 7’s awards ceremony at the Yorkshire Museum.

Maria Martinez Bayona won a hattrick of awards for Such Small Hands – Best Thriller, Best Director and Best Cinematography – with its account of an unchecked pack mentality alienating a new arrival at a girls’ orphanage, whereupon she invents a manipulative game to swing the balance of power.

Best Advertising Award winner: Fiona Jane Burgess’s The North Face X Gucci

The Best Advertising Award went to the director’s cut of Fiona Jane Burgess’s The North Face X Gucci, Presented By Highsnobiety, in which a new generation of birdwatching enthusiasts are breaking the stereotypes of what outdoor recreation looks like and who it is for.

Frédéric Schuld’s The Chimney Swift won the Best Animation Award with its 19th century European tale of a child climbing up a chimney while a bird sails down into it to build a nest in an encounter with no way back.

The Best Artists’ Film Award went to Aleksander Johan Andreassen for Centarium, a film he staged and filmed in shopping centres during mostly normal opening hours as a chain of events is sparked by a mannequin coming to life. Andreassen’s camera follows two characters’ movements.

Best Comedy Award winner: David Dearlove’s Taj Mahal Presents…A Short Film

David Dearlove’s Taj Mahal Presents…A Short Film, a “short film for people who don’t like short films”, was very much liked by the judging panel, who gave it the Best Comedy Award. BAFTA-nominated actor and director Phil Davis stars in this humorous swipe at a genre that “often seems longer than it is short.”

Clap hands for Joshua Ben-Tovim and Roseanna Anderson’s Blast, winner of the Best Dance Award for a film that takes its cue from the growth of radical ideologies and modern art in London, 1914. From here on, they consider the ways in which we “progress” as a species.

The Best Documentary Feature, Daniel Edelstyn and Hilary Powell’s Bank Job, focuses on an unlikely team, seemingly insurmountable odds, even explosions, as they take steps towards a future wherein money works for us all. This mischievous film follows a community making its own currency.

Best Documentary Feature winner: Daniel Edelstyn and Hilary Powell’s Bank Job

The Best Drama Award winner, Romain Dumont’s See You Garbage!, is a dramatic comedy about garbage collectors Élie, Nino and Belz being surprised to be invited for Christmas at the house of the Prime Minister and the First Lady.

The Best Experimental Award, Michelle Williams Gamaker’s The Bang Straws, considers the violent mechanisms of 20th century studio films, taking Anna May Wong as its starting point to revisit the casting discrimination that she experienced.

The Best Fashion Award winner, Elisha Smith-Leverock’s Rejoice Resist “celebrates and shows Black pleasure as the ultimate form of resistance”, highlighting the importance of allowing yourself to feel joy in the face of adversity.

The Best Fashion Award winner: Elisha Smith-Leverock’s Rejoice Resist

Leah Vlemmiks’s Best Music Video Award winner, Tesfay, uses dance, narrative and documentary to tell the story of Witch Prophet’s late grandfather, Tesfay, who raised five daughters as a single father in Ethiopia.

Ta Pu Chen’s The Cleaner shone out at the awards ceremony with prizes for Best Narrative Feature and Best Screenplay. In the film, death-scene cleaner Yan-Ting and ex-convict Ah-Chun team up with En-Ya, who was born with a silver spoon attached, to not only scrub places but also clear uneasiness and grudges.

In the Best VR & 360 Award winner, Joséphine Derobe’s Meet Mortaza, 24-year-old Mortaza had to flee Afghanistan because he was sentenced to death by the religious authorities. Forced into exile, Mortaza will strive to reach Europe to ask for asylum.

Best Animation Award winner: Frédéric Schuld’s The Chimney Swift

The Best Editing Award was awarded to Wang Yuyan’s One Thousand And One Attempts To Be An Ocean, a film with the advice: “If you don’t want to drown, be an ocean” as it reflects on the experience of being unable to see the world with depth perception.

The ASFF’s Hybrid and Virtual pass-holders have a deadline of November 30 to vote for their favourite film online, via the festival’s virtual platform, for The People’s Choice Award. “Just look out for the ‘Vote Now’ button when streaming great independent cinema this month,” comes the advice.

All the prize-winning films can be watched on ASFF’s Stream On Demand online service until November 30. For more details on how to watch, go to: asff.co.uk/tickets.