COULD the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York be a longer short film festival in future years?

"I've already had that thought," admits Aesthetica director Cherie Federico, whose festival team oversaw a 15 per cent rise in admissions to 20,000 for the four-day event last week.

"I've already been thinking that the festival really could open up on the Wednesday and be a five-day festival, but there would need to be a lot put into place to do that, in terms of funding and staffing, as there are such large overheads, the hire of equipment etcetera etcetera, but it's a great opportunity for the future, though nothing is decided yet."

ASFF, after all, is already a festival with momentum: the largest short film festival in Britain. Last year, Cherie decided to expand to a full four days, rather than having a launch night and three days, and the festival brochure has doubled in size since 2013 with a rise in masterclasses, networking opportunities and workshops.

After only four years, the event was awarded BAFTA Qualifying status: the first British film festival to receive this honour so quickly in ten years, and such an incentive for filmmakers to pitch their films for inclusion.

The statistics keep piling up. No fewer than 49 countries were represented at ASFF from last Thursday to Sunday, and while the brochure still boasts of 15 Venues, 300 Films, 4 Days, the reality was more like 375 films (assembled for 200 screenings, complemented by 35 special events).

York Press:

Aesthetica Short Film Festival director Cherie Federico

"From the 20,000 admissions, the economic impact based on Visit York figures of £80.36 for overnight visitors and £32.95 for day visitors was £556,499," says Cherie. "Overall, we had people staying for longer, with people opting to stay for the entire weekend, rather than just the day, so the increase on the economic impact is £133,000 and that’s because people stayed in the city for longer.

"There were people coming from all over the world and they were coming to York for a film festival, for no other reason." So speaks a New Yorker, who moved to York a decade ago in her student days and has stayed ever since.

"Explore York, Experience Film" is the ASFF mantra on its brochure, posters and banners around the city. "Lots of people came up to me to say that one of the things they most liked about ASFF was the chance to see fabulous films and walk around York too. What happened over those four days was really special," says Cherie. "It's a festival of discovery, and it's a unique thing that happens here in York with the perfect blend of industry, artists and film enthusiasts with really good networking opportunities, masterclasses and so many film screenings."

Such new locations as the National Railway Museum's Station Hall, the Grand Opera House auditorium and St Peter's School were well received, while the all-day screenings in Tempest Anderson Hall at the Yorkshire Museum were a particular success. "I've signed up already for Tempest Anderson Hall to be a venue again in 2016," says Cherie. "The new venues have been another reason why the festival went so well: good screens; proper sound block-outs; proper darkness; that's just what we need and they were all perfect."

Cherie was delighted too that the festival appealed not only to the core 25 to 40 age group, but to older filmgoers and the younger generation too, not least in the Youth Engagement Day for 500 schoolchildren at the Yorkshire Museum.

York Press:

Petros Silvestros's thriller A Confession, double prize winner at 2015 ASFF

"That is the power of cinema; it is for all ages. It's great that we have so many people aged 25 to 40 who come but there were films in the festival that appealed to everyone, because everyone enjoys film," says Cherie, who picked Marie Enthoven's Belgian comedy Taxistop as her festival favourite.

"Film was called the art form of the 20th century, but it's even more the medium of the 21st century, because the technology out there allows everyone the possibility to make a film, even on a mobile phone."

ASFF closed on Sunday night in a candle-lit awards ceremony at the National Centre of Early Music, hosted once more by Greg McGee, the According To McGee gallery co-director with the golden dictionary on the tip of his tongue.

York Press:

Petros Silvestros, winner of the Best Of Fest and Best Thriller awards at the 2015 Aesthetica Film Festival, speaking at Sunday's awards ceremony at the NCEM, York. Picture: Jim Poyner Photography

Petros Silvestros took home the Best Of Fest top prize, double delight after winning the Thriller category for his sinfully good British drama A Confession. The ASFF York Youth Vote went to Billy The Kid; the Advertising prize to The Experimenter; Animation, Somewhere Down The Line; and Artists' Film, Shezad Dawood's Towards The Possible Film.

The Comedy award went to How I Didn't Become A Piano Player; Dance, Primitive; Documentary, Across Still Water; Drama, Stutterer; Experimental, Drifters; Fashion, Pinch Me; Music Video, Daughters; and The People's Choice, Acoustic Kitty.

Roll on next November, and more new locations; family-friendly screenings; the Videotheque with every film at Explore York; guest country screenings to follow 2015's Cuba, China and Brazil; special screenings; parties; masterclasses and maybe an increase even on 375 films. Will ASFF stretch to five days? Watch this space.