18th Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival launches with a strong international flavour. Competition strands Animated and Brief showcase 188 of the best in contemporary short film and animation selected from 36 different countries, from a total of 1,900 submissions.
Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, one of the world’s leading showcases and meeting points for emerging talent, is returning for its 18th edition. This year sees the event taking place in a new slot from 18-23 September, based at Watershed and Arnolfini located in Bristol’s scenic Harbourside.
Two main competitive strands – Brief Encounters and Animated Encounters – will bring together 188 live action and animated short films from all over the globe. A total of 36 countries are represented, 22 being European. In addition to the festival’s prestigious awards, contenders will also be in the running for nomination for the top short film and animation accolades to which Encounters is a leading UK gateway: the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and the Cartoon d’Or.
With Mark Cosgrove ending his tenure as Short Film Programmer and taking up a position as Artistic Director of Encounters, this year the team has been joined by new Brief Encounters Short Film Programmer Gaia Meucci, who previously worked for organisations such as Edinburgh International Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand and Forum des Images in Paris.
Amongst the Brief Encounters competition highlights are: The Man Phoning Mum by renowned avant garde filmmaker John Smith, in which he revisits his iconic 1976 film The Girl Chewing Gum; Chris Shepherd’s latest work, comedy short DrillerFiller; Care by Amanda Boyle, produced by Warp Films and starring Gina McKee (The Silence, In the Loop); Il Capo by Italian director Yuri Ancarani, winner of the Grand Prix in the Lab competition at Clermont-Ferrand; Umshini Wam by maverick US filmmaker Harmony Korine, an off the wall collaboration with South African rapper duo Die Antwoord. Documentaries are a prominent feature this year, including: Meghna Gupta’s Unravel, audience award winner at the CFC Worldwide short film festival in Toronto; Paraiso by American Nadav Kurtz, winner of best documentary short at Tribeca 2012.
The Animated Encounters competition includes several world premieres: Aardman’s So you want to be a Pirate?, a comic game show pastiche featuring key characters from the recent feature film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, and three new films from Darren Walsh (Angry Kid, Compare the Meerkat commercials) featuring East End character ‘Bob’. Also highly anticipated are the latest contributions from world masters such as: Bulgarian multimedia artist Theodore Ushev (Drux Flux, Lipsett Diaries); veteran Dutch animator Paul Driessen, nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for 3 Misses; US pop-culture legend Don Hertzfeldt, creator of Everything Will Be OK and the Academy Award nominated Rejected. Annecy Grand Crystal award winning film Tram by Czech animator Michaela Pavlatova and The Last Bus by Martin Snopek and Ivana Laucikova from Slovakia, winner of the Grand Prix at Tampere Short Film Festival will also feature.
Encounters will notably welcome back in competition some familiar faces who already screened work at the festival in recent years and who are enjoying continued international success: Rafa by Portuguese director João Salaviza (Encounters 2009, Arena), winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale; Orizont by Romanian Paul Negoescu (awarded the Encounters Grand Prix and nominated for a European Film Award in 2011 for Derby); Karni and Saul’s Flytopia (Encounters 2010, Turning), based on a short story by Will Self.
Shorts2Features, the non-competitive showcase of debut and second features from filmmakers already known for their short films, will highlight yet another Encounters alumni success story: Katarzyna Klimkiewicz’s Flying Blind will have its Bristol preview at the festival, following a world premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The film was shot in Bristol and made under Creative England’s low budget initiative iFeatures. The director met the film’s producer Alison Sterling at the Encounters festival in 2008, where she screened her short Hanoi-Warsaw.
David Sproxton, Chair of the Encounters Board and Executive Chairman of Aardman Animations said: “With a change of dates this year and a fresh face in the programming team, the 18th edition Encounters has some exciting new perspectives. We’ve had a remarkable international response to the call for entries this year, and the festival has pulled together a programme which reflects the very best in short film and animation talent”.
As part of its big celebration of short film, the festival will host a range of gala events, workshops, master classes, industry debates, special guests, free activities, live music and much more. Already confirmed for the line-up are the following:
Focus on Finland featuring the best of Finnish short film and animation and a pop-up Cine-Sauna;
Soviet-era silent film Aelita – The Queen of Mars screened in a big top circus tent, with a live score by Finnish band Cleaning Women, cross-dressing zombies whose industrial folk-pop musical style is created by unusual instruments made from scrap materials such as washing machines;
BEAM, an evening of live music and projected art at Watershed, cut and spliced by renowned DJs and street artists;
Nick Park, Peter Lord and David Sproxton of Aardman Animations in conversation for a rare joint public appearance;
Directors UK present director and animator Sam Fell (Flushed Away, The Tale of Despereaux), coinciding with the UK release of ParaNorman, co-directed with Chris Butler
Retrospective of the work of visual artist Paul Bush (While Darwin Sleeps, Secret Love) who will present a master class alongside a screening of his new feature Babeldom;
Master Classes from BAFTA in cinematography and the NFTS in sound – with a spotlight on Adrian Utley from Portishead;
Workshops on Expanding Stories on Multi-Platforms, Pitching, Casting, Directing Actors and 3D Filmmaking;
Focus on Nexus, the award-winning independent production company and animation studio whose credits include short films, commercials (Honda, Coca Cola) and music videos (Rolling Stones, U2, Franz Ferdinand);
Future Encounters, 10 upcoming filmmakers who are names to watch.
In line with its role as a champion of emerging talent, the festival is presenting a five-day residential course supported by Creative Skillset, on The Creative Business of Producing Animation. The festival will also host the launch of FilmWorks, a networked professional development scheme, designed to fast track the short and feature film projects of 45 selected producers and directors. The initiative is organised by Watershed alongside Showroom Workstation in Sheffield and Broadway in Nottingham, and will be mentored by world-class local producers Julie Lockhart (The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!), Colin Pons and Alastair Clark (London to Brighton, Better Things, Unmade Beds). For more information on FilmWorks visit www.filmworks.org.uk.
Encounters will bring free short film screenings to unexpected and unusual spaces across the city. Its Outdoor Solar Cinema Tour will take over six local parks during the whole month of September with short film screenings and live acoustic acts programmed by music festival partner Brisfest.
The full festival programme and online delegate registration will be available from early August. For more information visit the website www.encounters-festival.org.uk. Join the discussion by finding us on Facebook and Twitter @EncountersSFF #ENC2012