The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is York’s largest cultural event of the year, and with over 300 film screenings, social events and industry-led masterclasses at 15 venues across York, there is plenty to be excited for.
Here are 10 top things to look forward to as we approach the festival, which runs from 1-6 November.
1. Opening Night Ceremony
This event is the launch of the 12th edition of the film festival. There will be a special screening of outstanding, inspiring and thought-provoking works from the 2021 Official Selection. The Opening Night Ceremony, curated by Festival Director Cherie Federico, introduces audiences to the breadth of the programme with a screening that captures a taste of what to expect over the course of the festival.
2. Official Selection Screenings
Experience a vast range of film screenings with the Official Selection programme. This curated set of over 300 films provides something for everyone, with genres including comedy, drama, animation, documentary, family friendly, thriller and more, alongside feature-length documentaries and narratives. See the filmmakers of the future here!
3. Virtual Reality Labs
Held daily from 1-6 November at City Screen, the Virtual Reality Labs offer opportunities to experience immersive storytelling. Explore new worlds and discover 360 cinema, held alongside panel discussions on the latest technologies at York Explore. Don’t worry if you’re joining the festival virtually – you can purchase an Aesthetica cardboard headset to experience expanded realities at home.
4. Family Friendly Screenings & Workshops
The whole family can experience the best in independent cinema at Family Friendly film screenings, which include laugh-out-loud comedies, engaging dramas and fun-filled animations. New to the festival this year, children have the opportunity to attend workshops with creative professionals, where they can learn to direct, edit and make their own films. These workshops, designed to harness creativity and boost confidence, will offer young people a chance to tell and share their stories.
5. Listening Pitch Film Premieres & Live Hardware Performance
Aesthetica and Audible have teamed up to run The Listening Pitch, which aimed to discover original stories that demonstrate how listening lets us understand different points of view. Join on Saturday 5 November at 6:30pm for the premiere of three winning films and the 2021 winner, Blind as a Beat. Drinks will be provided on arrival, and the premieres are followed by a live hardware performance.
6. Fringe Exhibition
Head to the Street Life Hub on Coney Street in November and experience the transformative power of art. This free exhibition, Unite. Create. Transform, brings together ten award-winning artists, whose work invites viewers to explore, discover and engage with the contemporary world. There are 10 contemporary artists on display alongside a new commission.
7. Sounds You’ve Never Heard Before
Audible, Aesthetica and London College and Communication have team up to commission a new work by one of the UK’s most exciting sound artists: Jin Chia Ching Ho. Using five-channel Genelec speakers, this installation presents the audio of five natural materials: metal wood, water, fire and earth. Jin was asked to think about how we understand sound in a world that has changed the way people listen, creating a unique one-hour experience. So sit back, lie on the cushions provided, and listen deeply.
8. Pitching Sessions
If you’re developing a new short or feature project, or looking for advice to develop your next big idea, you can apply for a 1-on-1 Pitching Session by Friday 14 October and be invited to receive invaluable feedback on your work. With representatives from BBC Film, Film Four, StudioCanal and Guardian Documentaries, amongst others, the Pitching Sessions are an incredible opportunity to talk to top industry professionals and develop your ideas.
9. Hey, Sunshine Party
The Hey, Sunshine Party is the first party of the festival, held Wednesday 2 November from 8pm. With a throwback to the 1970s and 1980s, this event is the perfect opportunity to grab a free gin and tonic and experience the classics: The Stranglers, Blondie, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Abba and more. Grab a drink, make some new connections and ease into the week ahead.
10. Awards Ceremony
Drawing the in-person festival to a close, the Awards Ceremony welcomes filmmakers, delegates and audiences to watch the live prize-giving ceremony. Prizes are awarded for the best film in each genre, as well as the Audience Choice, Best of Fest and Special Guest awards. Take part in the celebration, which will be followed by a drinks reception.
Aesthetica Film Festival may take place in-person 1-6 November, but it doesn’t end there. A huge selection of recorded screenings, events and virtual masterclasses will be available on the digital platform until 30 November. So join in, be part of the largest cultural event in York this year and enjoy the best of independent new cinema.