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highlights from Encounters:Britain’s biggest fest for shorts

Britain’s biggest competitive short film festival, Encounters Short Film Festival (www.encounters-festival.org.uk) returns this Autumn (21-26th November) to Bristol’s Watershed with a new name which reflects the combined talents of Brief Encounters and its sister event, Animated Encounters, who have merged to present another glorious dose of the best of the world’s cinematic shorts.

The expanded six-day film fest will present a bonanza slice of brand new international work, and screen over 300 new shorts from 30 countries including over 50 premieres, with education and training from respected industry professionals and an array of special events and parties.

Special guests this year include: director Ken Russell (Women in Love, Tommy, The Devils, The Boy Friend, Gothic); screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (Hilary and Jackie, A Cock and Bull Story, 24 Hour Party People, Code 46); animation producer Claire Jennings (Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit, Father and Daughter, The Big Knights); award-winning animation directors Joanna Quinn (Body Beautiful, Girls Night Out, Famous Fred, Family Ties) and Chris Shepherd (Silence is Golden, Who I am and What I Was, Dad’s Dead, Broken Jaw). PLUS Asif Kapadia (The Warrior) who has just finished shooting The Return starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sam Shepard.

Says Festival Director Sue Lion: “ Short filmmaking is currently experiencing a healthy upsurge in production which is reflected in the 20% increase in entries we’ve received this year. Our selection committee have had to watch over 1,500 films all contending for selection - from 64 countries on 6 continents from as far a field as Albania to Iceland, Sri Lanka to Zimbabwe and Peru to New Zealand! And we’ve also had over 100 new films from filmmakers in the South West making our Artistic Director Mark Cosgrove’s job even tougher this year!”

Festival Programme Highlights:

* Encounters Short Film Awards & Party – (Sat 25th Nov. Watershed, 19.15 C1). Prizes totaling over £10,000 given in 15 major awards given to the best films screened at the Festival. Awards include: Cartoon D’Or Nomination (the British nominee for the prestigious Cartoon D’Or Award); ITV West Award; International Jury Award; South West Screen Audience Award; Best of British Award; Cosgrove Hall Films Children’s Jury Animation Award; animate! Artist Award; UK Film Council Audience Award; International Newcomer in Animation Award; BBC Three New Film-Makers Award; Kodak/NAHEMI Cinematography Award; NAHEMI/Kodak Prize for Creative Filmmaking; Orange DepicT! Audience Award, and the unique DepicT! Awards (two awards of £2,000 – one live action, one animated - sponsored by Aardman and Films@59) that challenges budding film-makers to make a micro-movie in 90 seconds. View the short listed DepicT! films at: www.depict.org and vote for your favourite.

*BAFTA Short Film Paradise with Ken Russell - (Fri. 24th Nov. 20.15, Watershed C1). Legendary British director Ken Russell (Women In Love, Gothic, Tommy and The Devils) showcases a selection of his recent extraordinary and experimental short films, including Lion's Mouth and The Revenge of the Elephant Man, and does an on-stage interview with film critic and broadcaster Mark Kermode.

* Film-maker Focus, 6 free events for delegates only including a head to head with up-and-coming young director Asif Kapadia (The Warrior, The Return) – (Thurs. 23rd Nov. 11.30, Watershed C2), offers a chance to meet leading exponents and supporters of short filmmaking.
* Animated Industry Day – (Weds. 22nd Nov. Watershed, C1 & 3). Key UK event for the animation industry with two agenda setting strands specially programmed by Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit producer Claire Jennings, plus screenings, ‘Desert Island Flicks’ and an industry party. Speakers will include representatives from Aardman Animations, Framestore, Cartoon Network and DreamWorks amongst others.

* Five International Panorama programmes - (for dates and times see website). A smorgasbord of shorts from around the world with work from as far a field as Australia, Poland, Singapore, Hungary, USA, and Russia, and including many of this year’s BAFTA and Oscar nominees. Highlights include: Before Dawn directed by Balint Kenyeres, a tour de force of cinematography shot in one take and encompassing a huge cast, attempted mass immigration and arrest; Linerboard directed by Jens Johnson, which has been described as a cross between ‘Lost in Translation’ crossed with ‘Lost Highway’; the astonishing silent short about female collaborators Even If She Had Been A Criminal by Jean-Gabriel Periot, and The Clown Children by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen and Karin Beate Nosterud which shows a day in the the life of two homeless young brothers who make a living entertaining traffic jams on the streets of Guatemala City.

* Three Best of British programmes - (for dates and times see website). Living proof that home-grown film-makers are increasingly honing their craft. Highlights include: Ma Boy directed by Amy Neil and starring Shirley Henderson; The Undertaker written and directed by award-winning playwright/screenwriter Joe Penhall and starring Rhys Ifans and Nathalie Press, and Jez Benstock’s provocative Holocaust Tourist.

*Film School: Writing Good Cinema - (Thurs. 23rd Nov. Watershed C3). Key screenwriting figures including Billy MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky, Small Faces, The Piano), and Frank Cottrell Boyce (A Cock and Bull Story, 24 Hour Party People).

* Desert Island Flicks…… A very special guest will be marooned with only their favourite shorts for company. TBA
(Weds 22nd Nov. 19.45 Watershed C1).

* BBC New Film-Makers Award Premiere – (Thurs. 23rd Nov. 18.45, Watershed C1). Over 800 shorts were entered into this annual BBC Talent/BBC3 competition to find new talent, all competing for prize money of £5,000.

* Two Emerging Talent programmes - (for dates and times see website). Brand new directors stretch the envelope and make their mark.

* Late Lounge Retrospective: Chris Shepherd (Weds. 22nd Nov. 21.45, C1). First retrospective for Slinky Pictures founder, up-and-coming UK animation/live action director whose latest short Silence is Golden is destined for greatness, if the success of the multi-award winning BAFTA success of his last two films, Dad’s Dead and Who I Am and What I Was are anything to go by!

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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