Top Ten Things To Do at Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York, November 1 to 6

Aesthetica Short Film Festival launch night at City Screen, York. Picture: Jim Poyner, 2019

BILLED as “York’s largest cultural event of the year”, the 12th edition of the six-day Aesthetica Short Film Festival combines 300 film screenings, social events, workshops and industry-led masterclasses at 15 venues across the city from November 1 to 6.

1. Opening Night Ceremony, City Screen Picturehouse, York, November 1, 6.30pm

THIS launch event for the 12th ASFF presents a special screening of outstanding, inspiring and thought-provoking works from the 2022 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 300 films provides something for everyone, with the 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 November 1 to 6 at City Screen Picturehouse, the Virtual Reality Labs offer opportunities to experience immersive storytelling. Explore new worlds and discover 360-degree cinema, held alongside panel discussions on the latest technologies at York Explore library.

Virtual Reality Lab at Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Do not worry if you will be joining the festival virtually: you can purchase an Aesthetica cardboard headset to experience expanded realities at home. 

4. Family Friendly screenings and workshops

THE whole family can experience the best in independent cinema at Family Friendly film screenings, including comedies, engaging dramas and fun-filled animations.

New to the festival this year, children can 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. The Listening Pitch film premieres and live hardware performance, November 5, 6.30pm

AESTHETICA and Audible have teamed up to run The Listening Pitch, which aims to discover original stories that demonstrate how listening lets us understand different points of view. The premiere of three winning films will be complemented by the 2021 winner, Blind As A Beat. Drinks will be provided on arrival; the premieres will be followed by a live hardware performance. 

A New Beginning, by Christophe Chudy, at Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2022

6. Fringe Exhibition, StreetLife project hub, Coney Street, York, throughout the festival

HEAD to the StreetLife hub to experience the transformative power of art. A free exhibition, Unite. Create. Transform, brings together ten award-winning artists, whose work invites viewers to explore, discover and engage with the contemporary world. Look out for a new commission too.  

7. Sounds You’ve Never Heard Before, Bedern Hall

AUDIBLE, Aesthetica and London College of Communication have commissioned 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 consider how we understand sound in a world that has changed the way people listen, creating a one-hour experience that invites you to sit back, lie on the cushions provided and listen deeply.

8. Pitching Sessions

IF you are developing a new short or feature project, or looking for advice to develop your next big idea, you had to apply for a one-on-one Pitching Session by October 14 to be invited to receive invaluable feedback on your work.

Elements, by Filip Fredrik, showing at Aesthetica Short Film Festival

These sessions are an opportunity to talk to top industry professionals and develop your ideas, with representatives from BBC Film, Film Four, StudioCanal and Guardian Documentaries, among others, taking part.

9. Hey, Sunshine Party, November 2, from 8pm

THE Hey, Sunshine Party, the festival’s first party, offers a throwback to the 1970s and 1980s in the perfect opportunity to grab a free gin and tonic, experience classics by The Stranglers, Blondie, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Abba and more, make new connections and ease into the week ahead. 

10. Closing Awards Ceremony, November 6

DRAWING the in-person festival to a close, the Awards Ceremony welcomes filmmakers, delegates and audiences to watch the live prize-giving unfurl. 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, to be followed by a drinks reception.  

Did you know?

AESTHETICA Short Film Festival may take place in-person from November 1 to 6, but the event does not end there. A large selection of recorded screenings, events and virtual masterclasses will be available on the ASFF digital platform until November 30.

“So join in, be part of the largest cultural event in York this year and enjoy the best of independent new cinema,” says director Cherie Federico.

To book tickets, go to:

To download the 2022 programme, go to: