WHAT is the current state of play, asked director Cherie Federico as she launched the 2018 Aesthetica Short Film Festival at City Screen, York, on Wednesday night (November 7).

She was referring as much to the state of the world as the advances in film and ASFF itself in its most ambitious incarnation yet in its eight years.

“Great film can change lives. It reveals things we don’t know, encourages us to think differently, enriches our lives, invites us to see the world in a new way and contributes to our wellbeing,” she said.

“Film is a way to convene, discuss and understand the world. There have been considerable shifts in civilisation in the Information Age, resulting in a change in the way we communicate, engage with and interact with each other. There has been a level of disconnect that has not been experienced before.”

Film opens up dialogues, Cherie suggested. “Film is transformative, it takes us to new places, introduces us to new people, languages and customs. There is a new way of seeing that has been created by the Digital Age.

“Today we are in a world riveted by the moving image – it is the crucial mode of communication, which is how we understand what is happening around us.

“The films screening in this year’s competition are bold, daring and cover both deeply personal and universal stories. Ones that we can connect to and ones that remind us of our humanity.”

Cherie was speaking against the backdrop of a festival that has introduced “so many new elements” for this year’s event from Wednesday to Sunday: 20 feature films [to complement the 300 shorts]; the Screen School VR (Virtual Reality) Lab in partnership with London College of Communication; the Pitching Session with distributors such as StudioCanal, Curzon Artificial Eye and the BFI.

Then add guest programmes covering topicss ranging from Women and Power and LGBTQ+ Defining Gay Cinema to On Screen Diversity and 100 Years of the Great War in partnership with the Imperial War Museum.

“Aesthetica is an imaginative platform for those attending to consider the world, through film, within a broader social, political and professional context,” said Cherie. “Holding talent development at its core, the festival is a hive of innovation and idea generation.

“I am passionate about how film teaches, educates and informs us. It chronicles our times and reminds us to stop and look around at the world. The world is increasingly shaped by surveillance and data collection, and the human condition has become one of rehearsal and performance.

“Exploring the wider effects of over-consumption, media stimulation, data dissemination and shifts in ideologies resulting in the rise of Populism, many of this year’s films offer reflection upon the era of post-truth and examine our changing world.”

For full festival details and tickets, go to asff.co.uk