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Based at Watershed and Arnolfini in Bristol’s Harbourside, the festival has two main competitive strands – Brief Encounters and Animated Encounters – which will bring together 188 live action and animated short films from 36 separate countries.
Competition entrants will also be in the running for the top short film and animation awards, as Encounters acts as a gateway to the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and the Cartoon d’Or.
With a new slot from 18-23 September, the festival will be the first for Brief Encounters Short Film Programmer Gaia Meucci, after the former holder of the post Mark Cosgrove was promoted to Artistic Director of the festival.
Meucci previously worked for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand and Forum des Images in Paris.
Among the Brief Encounters competition highlights are The Man Phoning Mum by avant garde filmmaker John Smith, Chris Shepherd’s comedy short DrillerFiller; Care by Amanda Boyle, produced by Warp Films and starring Gina McKee, Il Capo by Italian director Yuri Ancarani, winner of the Grand Prix in the Lab competition at Clermont-Ferrand, and Umshini Wam by celebrated US filmmaker Harmony Korine.
Documentaries are a prominent feature this year, with Meghna Gupta’s Unravel, audience award winner at the CFC Worldwide short film festival in Toronto, and Paraiso by American Nadav Kurtz, winner of best documentary short at Tribeca 2012.
The Animated Encounters competition will include the world premiere of Aardman’s So You Want To Be a Pirate?, a comic game show pastiche featuring key characters from the recent feature film The Pirates!
The festival will also screen the latest contributions from filmmakers like Bulgarian artist Theodore Ushev (Drux Flux, Lipsett Diaries); veteran Dutch animator Paul Driessen, nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for 3 Misses and 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.
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”.