Encounters 2016: Day 5

Fish Head DJs

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

My plan for today was to attend some or all of the special European Film Awards shorts screenings, but I got a late start and they all sold out. So purely by chance, I decided to attend the 1:00pm Depict! screening. Depict! has been a part of Encounters since 1998 and is a dedicated competition for super short films. Limited to 90 seconds or less, these films have to tell a story in just a tiny slice of time, and I was extremely impressed with the shortlisted films. Among my favourites was the Roy Andersson-esque Living by Ben Mankin, and Thomas Lucas’ hilarious and accomplished Death in Space, which packed more laughs into 40 seconds than most comedy features. I’m definitely excited about trying to show a few of these films at future Shorts That Are Not Pants screenings.

Living, by Ben Mankin

Death in Space, by Thomas Lucas

Later I got to meet up with my friend Katie Baldock, whom I met at Sundance. She lives and works in London, but is originally from Bristol, so she was taking the opportunity to visit Encounters and her parents at the same time. After our drink together, there was just time for me to sneak home for a nap, which I considered essential preparation for the rest of the evening.

Earlier, I’d finally introduced myself to festival director Rich Warren, and obtained a coveted ticket to the invite-only Awards Ceremony at 7:00pm. It was great to be in the audience as more than 20 awards were handed out. And I ended up sitting next to Alison Sterling, a film producer who serves on the festival’s board of directors. Among the many highlights of the presentation was Latvian-Swiss animator Anete Melece, whose film Analysis Paralysis won the Grand Prix Award for Animation. Her bubbly personality couldn’t contain itself as she almost danced off the stage with her award. I was also delighted that Brady Hood’s Sweet Maddie Stone won the Live Action Grand Prix Award.

The closing night party began directly afterwards, with a glass of prosecco being offered to us almost as soon as we left the cinema. I’m very glad that I stayed, since I got to speak with a lot of people I hadn’t previously met, including animation programmer Kieran Argo, Watershed programme coordinator Clare Leczycki, and several more filmmakers and animators. And as you’ll notice from the photo above, the DJs were wearing fish heads, so that was also something.

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