Encounters 2016: Day 2

Encounters Mirror at Watershed Cinemas

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival from September 20th to 25th.

I had an ambitious day planned. Every day at 9:00am, pass holders can go online and choose their tickets for the day, and I planned to see five 90-minute programmes today. It didn’t quite work out that way, but I shouldn’t feel too bad.

The 10:00am Short Film 1 programme (SUX2BME) was very strong. I particularly enjoyed Gigi Ben Artzi’s E.W.A. a bold and stylish coming-of-age tale about a young woman with a constant nosebleed (still image below), and Brady Hood’s Sweet Maddie Stone, which featured an indelible character and a fearless performance from Jessica Barden. I’m glad to hear it’s being developed into a longer feature.

E.W.A. by Gigi Ben Artzi

At noon, I caught the Animation 1 (The Weight of Humanity) programme, and it was also very strong. My favourites were Uri Kranot’s How long, not long, a lovely painted piece that takes on the heavy theme of xenophobia, and Mihai Grecu’s The Reflection of Power, an eerie piece that combines striking imagery of North Korea with some clever VFX.

How long, not long

The Reflection of Power

Finding myself starving, I skipped the 2:00pm programme for which I had a ticket, and consumed an enormous burger at Small Bar, a great craft beer spot just a ten minute walk from the Watershed Cinema, where the festival is based. Of course, I had a beer, too. I also had a ticket for 4:00pm but decided to head back to my guest house for a nap. I’m still feeling pretty fatigued and thought I’d recharge for the evening. Before I left, I attempted to get a ticket to the 7:00pm screening of comedy shorts, but it was completely sold out. Luckily, I’d grabbed my ticket for the 9:00pm Sci-Fi shorts earlier this morning.

I came back to the Watershed around 7:30pm, hoping to mingle in the bar/café, but I was still feeling too shy to strike up a conversation with anyone. I just sat and had a beer and tried to absorb some of the atmosphere.

The 9:00pm programme of science fiction shorts (Close Encounters of the Short Kind) was a bit of a disappointment. Lots of the films were either too reliant on visual effects, or used shopworn sci-fi tropes without bringing anything new. The best of the lot was Croatian animator Veljko Popovic’s Planemo which was admirably ambitious even if its reach exceeded its grasp of animation technique.

All in all, a good day of screenings, though I was disappointed in myself for not talking to anyone. I’m hoping that with more rest, I’ll be a bit more energetic tomorrow.

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