Heightened play

Francesco Nassimbeni’s film, ‘AEIOU’ has scooped the prestigious Jury Award for Best Experimental Short at this year’s Cannes Short Film Festival. Here’s why

Francesco Nassimbeni decided to try his hand at film creating with this short, created for jewellery brand WAIF, by applying what he’d learnt during a decade of theatre direction.

Expressing his pride at the win on Instagram, including a generous nod to “the beautiful cast: thank you for sharing your vulnerability with me”, this talented artist has never been shy to say how important the actor is to theatre practice.

Whereas in film, the audience can be swept away by the scenery, for example, “the actor is the medium via which we experience the world of play… This phenomenal team brought love, patience, joy, imagination in spades.”


Nassimbeni believes his role is to capture more of the shared language of the stage, using the medium of film. So, in kicking off this approach, he selected proper theatrical actors as his preferred performers.


When taking in the joys of the highly conceptual ‘AEIOU’, you’ll see how it’s neither pure commercial nor 100 percent high art. Moods vacillate – energetic/exhausted/playful/sombre. It will likely be watched repeatedly for the societal issues it brings to light versus a pure fashion statement that may have lacked the depth of Nassimbeni’s post-pandemic exposé.

No novice to the creative arena, Nassimbeni has forged a multidisciplinary career that’s stretched across fashion illustration, theatre directing (as mentioned), arts education, graphic design and creative writing.

A hit play that he directed and designed ‘You Suck, and Other Inescapable Truths’, starring comedienne Klara van Wyk, was nominated for a Kanna Award and a Fleur du Cap, and won the Standard Bank Ovation Award.


Last year he made the top 10 in the Netflix Realness Project for his screenplay “You Me They Them”; and he’s recently appeared in Kanya Viljoen’s site-specific production of ‘Eurydice’ by Sara Ruhl.

What an accolade to win at Cannes for his virgin short film.






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Credits: AEIOU