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Aesthetica Short Film Festival: Women in Film


Gender inequality in film is at the heart of Aesthetica Short Film Festival this year.

It is common knowledge that there is still gender inequality evident throughout all aspects in our society whether that be in the media, job sector or sports.

Gender inequality in media is probably most thought of by the way women are represented in magazines, television and film. The topic of women being overly sexualised on these three platforms is discussed a lot which is amazing and it is moving forward dramatically.

However, do you ever hear about inequality behind the scenes? It is a huge re-occurring barrier that many women face.

Although the situation has improved, you would think in 2018 it would be we would be seeing more significant improvements to the way the industry tackles gender equality.


Source: Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films:
Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity,
LGBT & Disability from 2007 to 2017
Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, Dr. Katherine Pieper,
Ariana Case, & Angel Choi

Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has been going on for eight years now. This year has a focus on women in film and the struggles they have to over come.

With its BAFTA qualifying accreditation, it’s now a major UK and international film festival.

The festival is an important outlet for moving image and digital culture which creates a platform to champion short films internationally.

This year it is running from the 7th to the 11th of November in numerous venues across York including York Theatre Royal and York St John University.

The ASFF welcomes a range of industry leaders including Film4, British Vogue and BAFTA-winning Editor Mick Audsley (Murder on the Orient Express, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

These people then offer masterclass for aspiring creators who receive an invaluable insight to the industry.

There are also screenings across York City of new exciting short films in a variety of categories including Fashion, Advertising and Documentary.

What does it really take for a female practitioner to break through into the industry?

The Women in Film: Prospects and Perspectives panel/showcase screening took place yesterday, 8th November.

By sharing their approaches, a panel of female filmmakers offered a fresh perspective on the current industry landscape, exploring the challenges that gender presents in career progression and creative expression.

Anna Bennett Squire

York St. John graduate Anna Benett Squire now works full time in the feature film industry on Star Wars.

She works in the production office making sure that everyone is getting paid fairly and controlling all the employees overtime. She has had a short film screened at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA).

When asked about her struggles getting into the media industry she replied “Women that I know in the industry it’s taken them a lot longer to get where the men are. It certainly did with me as  I didn’t believe I had the right to push myself forward.

“It’s much easier for women to get into the art department such as costume and make-up because they’re seen historically as women driven roles.”

When it comes to more technical roles, such as camera and lightning she explains, it is usually men choosing who to hire and they just simply are not used to hiring females.

“They don’t think that they are capable of heavy lifting as it’s something women can’t do,

“We can lift things it’s not that hard.” She added.

When asked what advice she would give young women trying to get involved in the media industry she said “One single best skill to have is driving,

“It took me years to get a good job as I didn’t have a drivers license.”

Her last message which is incredibly powerful is “Keep pushing, keep going, nothing is going to make you fail quicker if you just stop trying.”

Lisa Cooke

York St John graduate Lisa Cooke now works as a junior post producer at Rabble Post ltd in Manchester. Here they make commercials and online content.

The job involves managing clients, budgets, and sourcing freelancers when needed.

When asked about the struggles in her job she said “I got a lucky break and got a work experience placement which turned into a job,

“But keeping yourself in the industry is quite hard,

“I do feel that I have had to prove my worth a bit more and work very hard to learn and progress, which I don’t think was a disadvantage but what society has made us think as a woman in all industries.”

“My advice would be to go with your gut. If this is what you really want to do then go for it. But that also means if you get to a stage where you don’t want to do it anymore, that is absolutely fine.”