Aesthetica Short Film Festival: Opening Night

Imagine considering the world through film. Imagine simply stopping and paying attention to what the world has to say…

Well that’s what Cherie Federico, director of Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF), asks us to do.

ASFF is a BAFTA qualifying festival that is highly regarded among those in the film world. The opening night includes a reception to meet other like-minded film-goers and, of course, to watch the director’s selection. The selection included: Seven directed by James Morgan, In Wonderland directed by Christopher Haydon, Fauve directed by Jeremy Comte, Black Sheep directed by Ed Perkins, and The Wayward Wind directed by Monica Thomas and Steve Delahoyde.

After asking Federico about her selection for the opening night, she explained:

“It’s important to have a balance of tone, and to make sure that I am presenting films that have the messages I want to say. For me, Black Sheep was one of the more challenging films, dealing with racism and one person’s story of how much it effected their life.” Federico went on to add, “this film deals with a very heavy and uncomfortable topic, but now is the time to talk about this and to stop racism and hate. It’s also important when programming a screening such as this one, that I also include a film to liven everyone back up again, which is why I chose to close with Wayward Wind. The films selected were predominately challenging. But this was important as there were, both, overt and covert messages to look out for.”

ASFF is a chance for budding filmmakers and lovers of film to collide and connect. The festival keeps growing every year (in scope and size): this year there is a focus on VR and the way this can be used to advance the experiences when watching a film. VR allows viewers to gain first hand experiences from things that they will perhaps never do in their lifetime. In the next few days it’s going to be interesting to see the way directors have tapped into this budding area of film.

Beth Wiffen and Stephanie Dale at ASSF Opening Night

The opening night also saw Stewart Page, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of York St John’s University, explain how it was a pleasure that the festival is held in York. The festival boasts 14 venues across York — it truly is a wonderful way of exploring the key cinemas and architectural beauties.

The opening night was challenging, informative, and entertaining. Indeed, the tone has been set for ASFF and I look forward to seeing how they will out-do themselves next year.

A Brief Interview with Cherie Federico

Cherie Federico is the director of Aesthetica Short Film Festival, held in York annually. She also set up Aesthetica the magazine, a successful world-wide arts magazine.

What kind of an impact were you hoping to make by choosing such striking films?

Cherie: For me, film is a place to convene. Film is a place to open up dialogues, have conversations. Film is transformative and it’s a way to reach new people, cultures, languages and customs. Film touches upon deeply personal stories to universal ones, which remind us of our humanity. For me, this is one of the most exciting aspects about curating this type of programme. I want to make people think.

Other than the films you selected for the opening night, do you have any other recommendations or things to look out for during the festival?

Cherie: I highly recommend the Screen School VR Lab in partnership with London College of Communication, the Moment Brain Controlled Film, the Feature Films — particularly, “You Go To My Head” screening tomorrow night 9pm at City Screen, as well as the networking events, Morning Coffee panels and VR discussions.

This year there appears to be a focus on VR, why is that? Is it a future pathway for film?

Cherie: Virtual Reality is one of the most exciting developments in the moving image. It’s a way to experience something in a way that has not ever been done before. We have a film called “Dolphin Man” and it’s about a free diver who swims with dolphins and whales — now, I’m never going to be a free diver and it’s unlikely I’ll swim with wales, so to have the opportunity to do this via Virtual Reality is incredible. I think VR is the future of film and it’s only just getting started!

Written by Stephanie Dale.

Stephanie is a third year English Literature student and her interests include film, radio, writing, reviewing, and literature. Her passion for film has led to Steph writing her dissertation on Wes Anderson.