Aesthetica Short Film Festival



Aesthetica Film Festival’s 11th Edition:

The 11th edition of the Aesthetica Film Festival will run from 2-30 November 2021 in York, UK. We will deliver a new hybrid experience, with in-person events from 2-7 November and the On Demand digital platform running from 2-30 November to complement the festival’s live experience. The Industry programme will include masterclasses, panels, networking, pitching and an opportunity for you to get involved. Entries are open for the 2021 edition. You can submit to 12 genres as well as VR projects, 360 films and narrative and documentary features.

Selected films will screen in competition and be eligible for our coveted awards, including Best in Category, Best of Festival, Audience Choice and the Hijack Visionary Filmmaker Award. The festival is BAFTA-Qualifying for short films and £5000 of cash prizes are up for grabs.


About Aesthetica Film Festival:

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is BAFTA-Qualifying and takes place in York, UK. It is one of the UK’s largest and most revered film events.

We love independent film. It is at the heart of everything that we do. Our programming and curation are innovative and expansive. We believe that great film is transformative, and creativity should be shared.

The Official Selection includes 300 shorts, features, VR and immersive works across 15 competitive categories, as well as non-competitive showcase screenings, presented by the UK’s leading film schools. Alongside these programmes, we work with global partners to curate guest programmes with impact. Recent organisations include Short of the Week, Directors Notes, Guardian Docs, BFI Doc Society amongst others.

Aesthetica is an important outlet for moving image and digital culture, creating a platform that champions film and creatives from across the world. Equality, diversity and creativity underpin the entire programme. We believe in making opportunity for filmmakers and talent development is at the core of our industry programming.

Industry activity includes masterclasses, spotlights, panels, networking and pitching sessions with distributors such as Film4, BBC Films and Lionsgate. We also have an Industry Marketplace to facilitate further collaborations. You can connect with leading production services, screen agencies, film festivals and film schools.

Previous guests include Dame Judi Dench, Andrea Arnold, Sarah Gavron, Dick Pope, Sam Feder, Jeanie Finlay, Paul Franklin, Glenn Freemantle, Chinonye Chukwu, Maxine Peake, Philippa Lowthorpe, Rankin, Jeremy Deller, Simon Chinn as well as representatives from the likes of Aardman, BBC Films, Film4, BBC Writers Room, Framestore, Industrial Light & Magic, British Vogue and many more.


Our curation:

We are looking for bold stories that are told differently and inspire conversations. Film has the power to ignite, transform and change the world. Curation at Aesthetica is centred around powerful storytelling, compelling narratives and ideas. We programme the festival into six overarching strands, and these strands reflect the current state-of-play. These programmes are then sub-curated thematically by genre. We focus on the topics that are the most meaningful, pressing and present in our world. Film is a mechanism to understand the past and present, and it also offers a view of potential futures. Our curatorial team is comprised of 12 programmers who have a range of expertise and specialisations, having worked for some of the largest film festivals in the world. Through the curation, audiences explore new cultures, ideas and engage with the future greats of filmmaking.


What delegates and attendees say about ASFF:

“A festival like this re-motivates and rejuvenates the filmmaking community ... that’s why it’s so valuable.” - Mark Cousins, Filmmaker, Curator

“ASFF is my favourite short film festival. Good people. Good energy. And always so well organised and curated” - Shelley Jones, Video Commissioner, NOWNESS

“I must say I was blown away with the online set up and set up was and how professionally it was run. Hats off to the team.” - James Friend, Cinematographer

“It was my first time attending ASFF, and what a buzzing hive of talent it was! I’ve made some wonderful discoveries of the next generation of storytellers and am privileged to have been able to participate in talks, pitches and judging some of the official competitions!” - Dionne Farrell, Development Executive, BBC Films

“It was an enormous pleasure to be involved in Aesthetica. I really enjoyed it and found the whole thing deeply impressive, and it was lovely to have such an enthusiastic audience! - David M. Thompson, Producer

“I can’t speak highly enough of the festival. The organisation and communication was top notch. And All the venues were great. Met a lot of great filmmakers and industry contacts. Next year’s festival is already in my diary.” - Samona Olanipekun, Filmmaker and Winner of Best Experimental at ASFF 2019

“I had a great time, love the festival, it’s so exciting seeing so many new filmmakers walking the streets and at events, really inspiring.” - Charlie Philips, Head of Documentaries Guardian Docs

“The festival has been great. It’s great to have somewhere where everyone is like-minded. Creativity is something that should be shared." - Tracy Granger, Editor

Awards & Prizes

Aesthetica is one of the UK’S leading film events, recognised by the BFI as a Festival of National Significance and being both BAFTA and BIFA-Qualifying for short film.

All films selected will screen in competition and will be eligible for our Best in Category Awards which are decided by a jury of industry experts.

In addition to the Best in Category awards, ASFF presents a number of special awards which offer project support, services as well as a combined total of £5000 in cash prizes.

Best in Category Awards:
- Best Advertising Film (Short)
- Best Animation Film (Short)
- Best Artists' Film (Short)
- Best Comedy Film (Short)
- Best Dance Film (Short)
- Best Documentary Film (Short)
- Best Drama Film (Short)
- Best Experimental Film (Short)
- Best Music Video (Short)
- Best Thriller Film (Short)
- Best VR, Immersive & 360 Project (Short)
- Best Narrative Feature Film
- Best Documentary Feature Film

Special Awards: - Youth Award – Presented to a Family Friendly film
- People’s Choice Award – all selected films eligible
- Hijack Visionary Filmmaker Award – all selected films eligible
- Best of Festival – all selected films eligible
Rules & Terms

Supporting and Championing Short Film:

We are looking for filmmakers who are driving film forward through inspirational and innovative works. Whether you are an established or emerging practitioner, we want to see your work.

We accept submissions of short films across 12 categories as well as narrative and documentary features, VR, immersive and 360 films.

The Official Selection will be shown in 10 venues across York, UK from 2-7 November 2021 and showcased on our online platform from 2-30 November 2021. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your work to an international audience of filmmakers, industry delegates and film fans.

Submission Timeline:

- Entries Open | 1 December 2020

- Early Bird Deadline | 31 December 2020

- Regular Deadline | 31 May 2021

- Late Deadline | 7 June 2021

- The Official Selection will be announced in September 2020

- The live edition of ASFF 2020 takes place in the York, UK from 2-7 November 2021

- On Demand service will be available via our virtual festival platform from 2-30 November 2021. This is a ticketed platform.

- Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday 7 November 2021

Submission Guidelines:

- Short films should have a maximum running time of 30 minutes.

- Feature films are considered to have a runtime of 60 minutes or over. Films of medium length that do not qualify as shorts may be considered as features in some cases, but please contact the team at asff@aestheticamagazine.com

- For 360 films, please ensure that your work is compatible with Oculus Go headsets as well as cardboard headsets. Please provide a downloadable link to your

project as an mp4 file. - For VR and Immersive experiences, please provide a link to a fully build of the project. Please also include a setup reader and full technical requirements. We do not supply any additional equipment beyond headsets and VR laptops.

- All films in languages other than English must have burnt in subtitles.

- Your entry form must include your name, address, telephone number and email so that we can contact you.

- Your film must not be in breach of any copyright, including music or sound used in your film.

- The link to your video included in your submission form must not expire. Please check that the link is working.

- We do not have a premiere requirement. We will accept submissions of films that have previously screened elsewhere, including at other festivals.

- There are in completion date requirements, but films completed in the two years prior to the festival are preferred.

- ASFF does not grant fee waivers under any circumstances.

- Submissions are final and subject to a no refund policy.

- All submissions are watched in their entirety and given the full attention of our team of programmers. The date of submission has no reflection on our selection decisions.

If your work is selected:

- We do not cover licensing or screening fees for selected projects, as films are in competition and have been submitted to us.

- The 2021 festival will be a hybrid event, with selected films available online via our closed platform from 2-30 November Access to this is international and as standard, we will not geo-block content. If you are selected to screen at ASFF and require geo- blocking, please inform the team and we can set this up for you.

- All films in the English language are provided with a correctly formatted subtitle file (.srt) to ensure that all content is accessible.

- We retain the right to use stills, trailers and excerpts of your work for the purposes of promotions, including the festival trailer, filmmaker interviews and social media posts.

Technical Specifications:

Should your film be selected to screen at Aesthetica Film Festival 2021, there are specific technical requirements the screening copy of your film must meet. Please read these carefully: http://www.asff.co.uk/submit/requirements/


Aesthetica Short Film Festival