Short film festival looks set to be here for the long term

Cherie Federico
Cherie Federico
Have your say

York has just played host to its second short film festival. Founder Cherie Federico shares her thoughts on this year’s event.

When I think about ASFF 2012, I genuinely can’t stop smiling. It was a fantastic year with a host of delegates attending from across the world. York was simply buzzing.

We opened on Thursday night at City Screen York – Dan Jarvis, Shadow Minister for Culture and Arts, attended, as well as representatives from Channel 4, Warp Films and other leading organisations.

The night was completed with a preview screening of the festival, a programme that spans all genres including drama, documentary, comedy, thriller, art, experimental, music video and animation. Across the weekend, we screened over 200 films in 15 venues, with a total of 180 screenings making up a whopping 469 hours’ worth of content.

The idea for ASFF was born when we launched a short film competition with the aim of producing a DVD to be distributed with our Christmas issue 2010.

We received just under 1,000 films that first year, but could only include 13 on the DVD. This was tragic because there were so many great films I had to reject. I hated every minute of that process. In June 2011, I was invited to BAFTA, as part of Rushes Soho Shorts, to a panel discussion on how filmmakers can work with brands. After the event there was a queue of people waiting to speak with me, and most of the people were filmmakers I had rejected. On the train ride back to York, I decided that I would start a festival.

It was a match made in heaven. York is such a beautiful city and we’d never had a film festival here before; I thought I would do it and see what happened.

Fast forward two years, and we’ve just closed ASFF 2012. The city came alive, there were delegates everywhere, and, inside each venue, filmmakers and audiences were engaging, conversations were happening and new collaborations and plans were being formed. As I walked around the city and saw this, I couldn’t help but feel excited because, for me, this is really what it’s all about.

As the Editor of Aesthetica Magazine, I believe in promoting high quality art and culture, and to have the opportunity to do this in the city in which I live, in such a direct way, is a dream come true. Not only did we have thousands attending, but the masterclasses alone attracted 1050 people who were here, in York, to engage with industry professionals such as Barry Ryan, Head of Production at Warp Films, Danny Cohen, cinematographer on The King’s Speech in association with BAFTA, as well as Channel 4, The Hepworth Wakefield, Raindance and others. We live in a county that has great film festivals – Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford – and I hope ASFF only adds to the region’s rich film culture.

Next year’s festival dates

The Aesthetica team which ran the festival received support for the festival from organisations including the Yorkshire Post, York St John University, Northen Rail, Creative England, BFI and Arts Council England. Next year’s event is already in the planning by me and my team and will run November 7-10, 2013. Details: