Who won the big prize at York’s film festival?

FESTIVAL TRIUMPH: Sasha Rainbow’s Kofi & Lartey wins the Best Of Fest prize

SASHA Rainbow has won the Best Of Fest Award at the 2019 Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York.

More than 400 films competed in the Official Selection for the grand festival prize at the five-day event, which climaxed with Sunday’s awards ceremony at the Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens.

Rainbow’s documentary Kofi & Lartey tells the true story of a man who escaped Agbogbloshie, the electronic waste dump site near the centre of Accra, Ghana’s capital, dubbed one of the most toxic places on Earth. The 20-minute film follows him as he empowers two young boys to do the same. 

New Zealander Rainbow’s film, along with all the category winners, becomes available for consideration for the 2020 BAFTA awards.

Kofi And Lartey was among the films selected by ASFF director Cherie Federico for the Opening Night Ceremony showcase that launched the festival last Wednesday night.

Iain Cunningham was awarded Best Feature for Irene’s Ghost, his BIFA-nominated debut feature documentary account of his search for information about the mother he never knew, as Narrative and Documentary Features returned to the festival for a second year.

Delving into hard-hitting topics, the Drama strand provides the largest part of ASFF’s programme.  Best Drama was awarded to Thomas Vernay for Miss Chazelles, the story of two young rivals.

 Best Thriller went to Madamedirected by Garth Jennings, best known for 2016’s Sing and 2005’s Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.  Norteños, directed by Grandmas, took home the award for Best Comedy; Leszek Mozga won Best Animation for Roadkill; Charby Ibrahim, Best Documentary for the animated Bright Lights – The Perils Of The Pokies, a reflection on the devastating consequences of gambling. 

Tapping into the brand ethos, LEONE’s L’Incredibile, in partnership with Nike, was awarded Best Advertising;  Best Fashion went to Lola’s Manifesto, directed by Gsus Lopez and Cristian Velasco.

Usurping the idea of convention, Best Artists’ Film was presented to Rhea Storr for A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message;  Best Experimental was awarded to Samona Olanipekun for Kindred, a spirited interpretation of life in the 21st Century.

The Golden Age, directed by Eric Minh Cuong Castaing, won Best Dance, while Best Music Video went to Emmanuel Adjei for Shahmaran – Sevdaliza. 

Introducing new digital playgrounds, ASFF welcomed Virtual Reality and Immersive films into the competition for a second year. Best VR & Immersive was awarded to Virtual Viking – The Ambush, directed by Erik Gustavson, who used 106 cameras to capture Norway’s west coast, marking one of the first techniques in scripted VR drama. 

New for 2019, the Hijack Visionary Filmmaker Award recognises directors with exceptional vision and a unique cinematic voice, with the prize going to Ellie Rogers for They Found Her In A Field. 

The Polaris Award celebrates the achievements of filmmakers in the North of England, with sponsorship from Film Hub North and BFI Network, and this year’s award was received by Charlene Jones for Henceforth, an honest and raw project highlighting the grief of three siblings after the loss of their parents. 

Across the five-day run, festival-goers were invited to vote for their favourite film from the Official Selection for the People’s Choice Award, won by Garry Crystal for Down, from the Drama category. This claustrophobic short about two strangers trapped in a lift stars Amanda Donohoe, James Eeles and Paul Barber. 

Chosen by students at the Youth Engagement programme, the Youth Award was given to Lasagne, directed by Hannah Hill.

This year’s festival drew entries from 53 countries and welcomed thousands of visitors, including industry professionals, students, tourists and film enthusiasts, some travelling from as far afield as Canada, Norway, Germany. Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

Entries for the tenth anniversary festival open on December 1, with the 2020 festival dates confirmed for November 4 to 8.