Aesthetica Short Film Festival: Cinema buffs and professionals to descend on York for event

Cinema lovers and professionals alike will descend on York this week for the return of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

And for the first time, a hybrid model will allow people to both attend in person and watch some of the films, made by both up-and-coming and experienced filmmakers from across the country, in the comfort of their own homes.

More than 300 films will be screened alongside 100 industry events and 100 speakers from across the world who will form part of the festival.The films selected span across over 12 short film genres, feature-length narratives and documentaries, as well as virtual reality experiences in York’s City Screen basement.

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Organisers have also curated industry events and screenings that have LGBTQ+, communities, Black Lives Matter, women, gender and identity at the core.

Cherie Federico

Cherie Federico, director of the festival, sees York as the perfect location for film-lovers.

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She said: “To have an experience that you can come in person, and experience this beautiful city and all its charming corners, nooks and crannies – it’s the perfect marriage of historic and contemporary. The films are the cutting edge of British cinema.”

The hybrid model is a “game-changer” for the film festival industry, Ms Federico said.

She said: “I would argue we’re in a really big, transformational moment of how film festivals happen. The potential to reach further audiences, for them to engage with independent cinema is extraordinary.

Many of the films that are being presented at the festival were created under pandemic restrictions, but a conscious decision was made by the curators not to focus on the past 18 months too heavily in the films chosen.

“It felt very dark at points through the pandemic where you felt things like this would never happen again,” Ms Federico, 42, said.

“There will definitely be an impact on how some films were made. Different stories are being told, showing humankind’s resilience in the fact that you’re a filmmaker, it’s your craft and passion and you’re going to make a film regardless, using innovative techniques.

“Maybe the angles were shot differently, and you have to think about the editing and sound design more carefully. Creativity under constraint can produce really surprising results. If you are determined to create and make a film, you’ll be able to do that.

“It’s not pandemic heavy though. That was a deliberate curatorial choice. We’ve all been here, we’ve all lived it.”

Venues for the festival are peppered all over the city and include Bootham School, the Theatre Royal, King’s Manor and the Everyman Cinema.

The festival runs throughout November with in-person and online tickets still available to buy.