Preview of the 18th Encounters Film Festival

I remember my 18th – well, it was only a few months ago. I came back on the train from Surrey with a phone broken by the log flume at Thorpe Park: ‘Loggers Leap’ (52ft, not even close to their highest ride), watched Tarkovsky’s morose masterpiece Andrei Rublev, as you do, then went out to see Little Intentions & co at The Croft. But the Encounters Film Festival this year isn’t about my 18th, it’s about its very own – 18 years of live action and animated short films brought to Bristol and already it’s shaping up to be one to remember. Here are some of my most anticipated events of the festival, the full schedule of which can be found here.

Focus on Finland

The Big Top at the Creative Commons is showing a double bill on Thursday the 20th composed of a documentary charting the history of the Midnight Sun Film Festival followed by a silent Soviet film accompanied by a live musical performance. Finnish film historian Peter Von Bagh’s Sodankylä Forever: Century Of Cinema showing at 7:00pm concerns Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival, initially founded by Bagh himself alongside Aki and Maki Kaurismaki. It features interviews with filmmakers as well known as Francis Ford Coppola, Terry Gilliam and Stanley Donen as well as acclaimed international directors such as Abbas Kiarostami and the Dardennes brothers. I’m hoping this documentary will display some of the often neglected treasures in Finnish cinema, an area I’m keen to discover. Then, at 9:00pm comes a screening of Soviet innovator Yakov Protazanov’s Aelita: Queen of Mars which will be accompanied with music from alternative group and ‘stylish cross-dressing zombies’ Cleaning Women. As of yet I’m unsure what to expect of  Protazanov’s silent sci fi having only seen several clips with twisted, angular sets and a complex narrative structure – lest to say it’s perhaps my most anticipated event of the festival and a unique opportunity.

Further running with the Finnish theme, the Arnolfini and Watershed will be showcasing a selection of recent short live action and animated films from the Tampere Film Festival.

Animated Encounters at the Arnolfini

The Arnolfini is hosting a number of animated screenings and workshops. This includes a Paul Bush retrospective on Thursday 20th before a masterclass with the filmmaker, followed by a ‘Short2Features’ screening of ParaNorman accompanied with a Q&A with director Sam Fell. There will also be two Aardman Rapid-Prototyping Workshops, all essential events for any passionate animator or artist. Any Aardman fan will also be pleased to hear the Arnolfini are hosting many more events focusing on the Bristol based studio on the 19th, including an interview by Radio 4’s Francine Stock with company directors Nick Park, David Sproxton and Peter Lord which looks unmissable to my eyes. Plus, if you pop down between 10am and 8pm between the 19th and 22nd you’ll be able to check out some of the actual sets, props and models used by the studio.

Live Action Encounters at the Watershed

The Watershed will be showing dozens of short films competing in the Festival this year including works by notorious provocateur Harmony Korine, avant-garde director John Smith and award winning Brit Adrian McDowell. For those of you interested in taking up short or feature length filmmaking you won’t want to miss the panels featuring exhibition & distributionist, South West-based filmmakers and documentary makers. The Underwire film festival dedicated to showing works of female directors will be screening last years winners and giving an opportunity for local women filmmakers to screen their own shorts and gain audience feedback. Founder of Recorded Picture Company Jeremy Thomas will be parting some of his experience in the independent film industry. He’s an Oscar winning, prolific producer who’s made films with Nic Roeg, Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg and Wim Wenders to name a few – chances are you’ve seen one of his films. Continuing in the Soviet theme from earlier, you can watch some 1930s short animated films or uncover the world of 3D animation in Soviet Russia – alongside Aelita: Queen of Mars, these are musts for anyone who thinks they know something about film history.

Solar Powered Cinema & Cinesauna

If you can’t make it to the main festival, you can enjoy acoustic performances courtesy of Brisfest prior to outdoor screenings of family-friendly short films with the Encounters Solar Powered Cinema visiting various places around Bristol until the 22nd. You can also find a ‘finnish style’ pop up cine-sauna in the Small Room at The Parlour Showrooms between the 15th and 24th. Finally, Cube Cinema will have a special screening in co-operation with Bluescreen that will allow anybody who wants to show their own short films (20 minutes or less) to show loudly and proudly on the big screen.

The awards will be announced on the 22nd. I’ll try to keep you updated on my own journey through the festival as part of the New Film Journalism workshop (link to come soon).

For the full schedule of events, click here.




Creative Common:

Cube Cinema:

Geneva stop:

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