Successful Aesthetica short film festival makes preparations for this year’s event

When Cherie Federico decided to launch York’s very own short film festival she knew she was taking a risk.

Having previously run a competition in the pages of the contemporary arts magazine Aesthetica, which she founded in 2002, Cherie knew there would be no shortage of entries. What she couldn’t guarantee was the quality or whether they would have an audience.

As it turned out she needn’t have worried. Last November, more than 1,000 people paid for a weekend pass to view the 150 films screened across 15 different locations and many more attended the various free events which took place around the city.

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“When you do something for the first time, you never really know how it’s going to turn out,” says Cherie. “There comes a moment when you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

“However, last year’s festival exceeded all our expectations. The quality of the entries we had was really impressive and for those who were newcomers to short film I hope it showed just what talent there is out there.

“Not only that, but industry professionals and filmmakers from around the world and the four corners of the UK gave their support. Sometimes it really does pay to take a risk.”

It’s a philosophy Cherie has stuck by ever since she launched Aesthetica on a credit card. The glossy magazine now has a bi-monthly readership of 60,000 and is sold throughout 20 countries. Buoyed by the success of that first short film festival, Cherie, who moved to England from New York to study at York’s St John University, now has her eyes firmly set on this year’s event, which is also being supported by the Yorkshire Post. Entries have just opened for the autumn festival and submissions are invited across all genres from drama and documentary to animation and music videos. “What we are really looking for is people who are driving the genre of short film forward,” says Cherie. “Whether you are fresh out of film school or have been in the industry for years we want to hear from you.

“One of the great things about holding a festival Iike this in York is the fact the city has such variety. Last year we held screenings in medieval halls, historic buildings and saw contemporary art spaces transformed into one-off site specific spaces, which gave the audience the chance to see films from the world over in unique settings.”

If the visitor numbers were impressive, so was the amount of miles some of the audience travelled. While many came from this country, some film fanatics made the trip from everywhere from the Netherlands to New Zealand and by the end of the weekend 48,000 films had been screenined. “This festival has really helped put Yorkshire on the map and has added to the cultural offering of York and the county,” says David Shields, North Yorkshire area director at Welcome to Yorkshire. “It was a terrific celebration of film and the historic surroundings of our beautiful city of York. We look forward to welcoming the festival back this year.”

For details of how to enter the 2012 Aesthetica Short Film Festival, which will run from November 8 to 11, visit www.asff.co.uk/submit.htm. The deadline for submissions is May 31.