Set in the late 1990s, Aftersun follows Sophie, an 11-year-old girl, on vacation with her father, Calum, at a Turkish beach resort on the eve of his 31st birthday. Sophie records her holiday adventures and experiences – scuba diving, playing arcade games with other teenagers and, of course, spending time with her dad – on a MiniDV camera.

Amicably separated from Sophie’s mother, but unbeknownst to Sophie, Callum has occupational and financial struggles. He exhibits signs of depression and detachment, engaging in Tai chi routines, reading self-help books and smoking, a fact he conceals from Sophie.

All too soon she is at the airport, the holiday is over, and Calum disappears from her life. Some 20 years later Sophie reflects on the trip to Turkey with her father, prying through the old video camera footage, using her own memories and some new imaginings, to understand what happened to him.

Marking Charlotte Well’s directorial debut, the emotionally autobiographical, coming-of-age drama stars Paul Mescal as Calum, with debutante Frankie Corio and Celia Rowlson-Hall respectively as the young and adult Sophie. The film, which cleverly intersperses Sophie’s videocam footage throughout for storytelling purposes, premiered during International Critics’ Week at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. It received acclaim for Wells’ screenplay and direction, lead performances and stylistic editing, along with the luminous cinematography by DP Gregory Oke.

A slew of nominations and awards followed, amongst which Wells became the Outstanding Debut winner at the 2023 BAFTA Awards, and Oke picked up the 2022 BIFA Award for best cinematography. Aftersun was named one of the best films of 2022 by the National Board of Review.

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