Preview: Encounters Film Festival

Charlotte Maxwell
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Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival returns to Bristol on 20-25 September featuring an evening with the founders of world-famous animation studios Aardman and a chance to celebrate Bristol’s role in shaping the UK music scene in the 1990s.

As Europe’s leading short film festival, this year the Encounters Festival International Competition screenings present 231 short films in 24 programmes, playing across three days in Watershed with winning films screened in special programmes at the weekend. Judged by an appointed panel of industry experts, the shorts cover genres including live action, animation, music video, experimental, documentary and comedy.

On Tuesday 20 September Aardman’s co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton will make a rare joint public appearance to look back at their films, which have thrilled cinema audiences for the past four decades. From humble beginnings in the 1970s to being one of the world’s best animation studio today, Aardman’s films and characters have entertained the world through unforgettable, lighthearted stories. As well as looking back at their years together, Peter Lord and David Sproxton will show the premiere screening of their remastered version of the groundbreaking video for Peter Gabriel’s 1986 hit Sledgehammer. Seen as being way ahead of its time, the video owed a lot to the skill of Aardman’s animators.

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On Friday 23 September there will be the chance to delve back into Bristol’s rich musical history when The Bristol Sound on Screen will screen footage from the era when the city ruled the underground and the airwaves.

A retrospective of music videos and archive footage including rare shots of the Wild Bunch on the streets of St Paul’s and Montpelier in the 1980s to more contemporary Bristol acts, it will be an evening to celebrate the inspiring music of the city.

Festival favourite Late Lounge will return with a selection of dark, twisted and controversial short films submitted in this year’s competition. There will be guest appearances from the likes of filmmaker, musician and DJ Don Letts, author and screenwriter David Nicholls and former Channel 4 news reporter now filmmaker and author Paul Mason. The programme is packed with quality films, talks and events, including a chance to see the award winning films across the weekend of the festival.

Success at Encounters opens the door to the Oscars, BAFTAS, European Film Awards and the Cartoon d’Or for the filmmakers crowned by a judging panel of industry leading judges.

The Competition 

The competition comes as direct response to the issue surrounding current lack of diversity within the film industry. Filmmakers from underrepresented groups identified in the BFI Diversity Guidelines have the chance of winning cash prizes to make their films, as well as invaluable professional experience and development opportunities through promotion on national and international platforms. All shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend Encounters Festival 2016, to take part in workshops and mentoring sessions, and will then pitch their ideas to a group of international expert judges.

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In addition to the with cash prize for funding their films – £1,500 for the winning entry, £250 for second prize and in-kind support for the runner-up – the competition winners will also get support with crowd-funding campaigns post the festival. The overall winner will also get a trip to the 2017 Clermont Ferrand Film Festival for short films with the Encounters Festival Team.

“Encounters Festival has created this brilliant opportunity for new and emerging filmmakers from underrepresented groups, supporting diversity and tackling barriers that can often be found when trying to break into the industry with the support of the BFI Diversity Fund. We are encouraging applicants to be as creative as possible to come up with new ideas for a short film that tackles the idea of challenging limitations of character and story development often seen on screen,” says Alice Cabanas, Director of Encounters Film Festival.

The winners will be announced at the festival.

About Charlotte Maxwell

Charlotte Maxwell is a Vada Magazine staff writer.