MANJINDER Virk took home the Best of Fest award at the closing night of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York for her film Out Of Darkness.

Made in Britain, it starred Tom Hiddleston and Riz Ahmed in a story told by nine different voices about the haunting of a conscience by lost souls that will not let go.

Virk’s success brought the third ASFF event to a rousing end, concluding the festivities that saw British director Staten Cousins-Roe win Best Comedy for This Way Out, his dark film about a euthanasia centre struggling to make up numbers, and Poland’s Czlowiek Kamera top the music video category with Call Me In the Afternoon for Canadian band Half Moon Run.

Filmmakers from 36 countries featured and special screenings included guest programmes from BAFTA, Kuwait, Mexico, India and Screen Bandita’s reclaimed Super 8 film stock. An animated Norwegian film stole the heart of viewers, who voted Eirik Gronmo Bjornsen and Anna Mantzaris’s But Milk Is Important the winner of the People’s Choice award.

From November 7 to 10, York was transformed into a boutique cinema with screenings in 15 iconic and hidden locations, ranging from the 1331 bar and the White Stuff’s mini-cinema to the New School House Gallery and St William’s College.

The festival’s 300 films drew 16,500 admissions, up more than 60 per cent on 2012, bringing an estimated £223,000 to the city’s economy.

Tokyo filmmaker Saera Jin, director of Konnichiwa Brick Lane, possibly travelled the furthest, while filmmakers also attended from Los Angeles, Kuwait, Israel, Canada, Norway, Sweden, France and Belgium.

“The presence of the filmmakers added a real sense of excitement to the festival, with festival goers able to question them about their craft,” said Aesthetica’s Rebecca Bowery.

ASFF aimed to dissolve the traditional notions and boundaries of film presentation. Industry professionals sat beside members of the public along the rustic banqueting tables of the medieval Barley Hall to watch moving documentaries and new friends were made amid the suits of armour at the Micklegate Bar Museum.

The festival welcomed 55 educational groups, comprising 1,500 students.

Katie Campbell, from BAFTA, commended the organisers for “another brilliant year” and Hussain Currimbhoy, programmer at Sheffield Doc/Fest, praised the “excellent audience and great vibe”.

Barry Ryan, from Warp films, creators of Four Lions and This is England, presented a masterclass at York Theatre Royal and was overwhelmed by the turnout of 600. “It was amazing to see the festival so busy,” he said.

Philip Ilson, from the BFI London Film Festival, said: “ASFF was a great experience. It’s great to see a festival with a real difference and interacting with its city, which many festivals don’t seem to do.”

Festival director Cherie Federico said: “We’re so pleased with this year’s event. The filmmakers were exceptional while the atmosphere and excitement of our visitors made York an incredible place to be this November.”

Kate McMullen, head of Visit York said: “ASFF is a fantastic event that raises the bar for York’s international art and culture profile.”

• Organised once again by the York magazine publication Aesthetica, next year’s festival will run from November 6 to 9.