York’s short film festival is back: Here are 22 must-watch highlights

Ruth Wilson in 'Eleanor' © Tobias Ross-Southall, Alex Warren
4 Nov 2020 @ 8.19 pm
| Entertainment

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is back with its 10th Anniversary Edition this year – with digital and live-streamed events.

2020 has certainly brought its challenges, and it’s no different for the films and events industry. But the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has adapted to bring audiences an entirely digital festival with a rich and diverse programme that will take place from Tuesday, 3 November to Monday, 30 November.

Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2020

Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2020
Tue, November 3 - Mon, November 30
Virtual event - see weblink

Once you have your Digital Festival Pass, you will be able to access all films and industry events.

For a full explanation for how the virtual festival will work and a breakdown of festival passes, please visit the How It Works page on the ASFF website.

For the 10th Anniversary year there are over 400 films to choose from, multiple guest programmes, over 50 masterclasses, and over 100 industry events. Wow!

For a place to start, we’ve put together some highlights of unmissable screenings and events.

These include films starring Ruth Wilson, Timothy Spall and Emily Mortimer, to guest programmes that highlight Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ cinema, and masterclasses from Dame Judi Dench, Russell Tovey, and Barry Adamson.

Also take a look behind the camera with experts in areas such as animation, stop motion, production design and inclusivity.

For the full programme of screenings, industry events, masterclasses and more please visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival website.

Discover what’s in store for ASFF this year…



Freddy Syborn, UK, 2018

When a misjudged referendum comes back 50.9% in favour of hanging, a group of inept junior civil servants meet on their first day in their new roles in the Department of Capital Punishment. Featuring Charlotte Ritchie, Harry Enfield and Jon Snow. Available on demand from 6 November.


Tobias Ross-Southall & Alex Warren, UK, 2015

Golden-globe winner Ruth Wilson plays three different women whose lives become fatefully intertwined over one night. A truly innovative and haunting examination of the human psyche. Available on demand from 7 November.

Survivor’s Guilt

Caleb Femi, UK, 2020

A young recluse suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder encounters an unexpected and somewhat magical cure, alleviating his grief and, ultimately, setting his mind free. From poet, musical artist and former Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi. Available on demand from 8 November.

Write When You Get Work

Stacy Cochran, USA, 2018

A make-up internet sensation, a cyber security boss, a veteran of Stalingrad, an exiled feminist and a Tractorist Heroine were forged in a culture that had officially proclaimed women equal to men. They were told they could achieve it all, but at what cost – and what was the reality? A thorny romantic comedy set in New York City – within a private school for girls and in the world outside its exclusive walls. Featuring Emily Mortimer and Finn Wittrock. Available on demand from 7 November.

This Time Away

Magali Barbe, UK, 2019

Nigel us an elderly man living as a recluse, haunted by the past and memory of the family he once had. Then, an unexpected visitor arrives and disrupts his routine. Featuring Timothy Spall. Available on demand from 7 November.

Guest Programmes

I Still Can’t Breathe: Directors Notes and Can We Talk DXB

These guest programmes are released on Tuesday 3 November and available on demand until 30 November

The public murder of George Floyd devastated millions worldwide. It revealed the injustices that black communities have known all their lives, prompting crucial conversations and fuelling global outrage. Society’s systems function to oppress and disadvantage those who are not white. From horrific violence to racial bias to everyday micro-aggressions, this programme of shorts, curated by Directors Notes and Can We Talk DXB, portrays the reality of life as a member of marginalised populations. We still can’t breathe.

LGBT+ Shorts: Defining Gay Cinema

These guest programmes are released on Tuesday 3 November and available on demand until 30 November

Watch rarely seen short films from the Iris Prize Archive. The four films are easy to label as “brutal.” They are, at times, difficult, but stick with them as they unfold into a truly rewarding cinematic experience. The stories deal with the broader themes of mental health and the search for love. Specifically, these projects ask questions about how love can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. These are not your typical LGBT+ short films. Now in its 14th year, Iris Prize holds a film festival and year-round events.

Indigenous Cinema: Celebrating Sovereignty

These guest programmes are released on Tuesday 3 November and available on demand until 30 November

After decades of on-screen misrepresentation, artists are reclaiming their stories, expanding traditional definitions and interpretations of the moving image. Indigenous storytellers and content creators follow cultural protocols, translating oral traditions and protecting languages for their peoples, whilst connecting perspectives and showcasing indigenous truths and values. Native Spirit Film Festival presents a selection of shorts by First Nations and indigenous filmmakers from Canada, USA, Norway and Aotearoa.

Special Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Filmmaker Insights Panel Discussions

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Showcase Screenings & Panel Discussions

There are no upcoming events at this time.


There are no upcoming events at this time.