Encounters Festival

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Watershed, Bristol, BS1 5TX




2018 marks the 24th annual Encounters Festival and, as ever, the vast selection of short films promise inspiring characters, ethereal animation, dark secrets and hilarious circumstances.

The programme blends work from established and emerging talent from the industry into thematic programmes, based on genres including Sci-Fi, Horror and Comedy.

Encounters is the UK’s leading internationally recognised short film, animation and virtual reality festival, and is globally renowned as a gateway to awards such as The Academy Awards™ and Europe’s leading film prizes like the European Film Awards and the BAFTAS. Thousands of submissions were received this year, and a selection of those chosen to form the 2018 programme.

The various ways films can make us laugh will be demonstrated across two nights of comedy shorts. Group Therapy (Wednesday, September 26) will be an evening of eight light-hearted shorts while From the Sublime to the Ridiculous will explore the absurd and perverse through twelve films.

Horror is always a hugely popular part of Encounters and Late Lounge: Fright Night (Wednesday, September 26) will be a whole night of fourteen spine-tingling horror shorts from across the world that will take the audience on a frightening journey involving psychological thrillers, zombies, chilling fantasies and nightmares.

Secrets and Lies (Wednesday, September 26) will be a programme of films based around deception and hidden truths while Written on the Body on the same day will feature short films about how our bodies tell our stories.

Bristol is famous the world over for being a place where films about nature are generated and Encounters 2018 will enhance that reputation with Animal Magic, a series of screenings on Thursday, September 27 which will show some of the best animation featuring wildlife and animal stories, bringing important messages to the screen.

Encounters ticket holders can this year enjoy a unique screening in one of Bristol’s quirkiest performance spaces. Boiling Wells Amphitheatre in St Werburghs will be the setting for an immersive screening of Arcadia thanks to Compass Presents.

Held on September 27, the evening will involve audience members enjoying the wild gardens of Boiling Wells with all the secrets it contains before taking their seats for the experimental film which explores our relationship with the land we live on, with a soundtrack written by Portishead’s Adrian Utley and Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory.

Just across the Harbour from the Watershed on September 27 Arnolfini will be the setting for a unique visual and musical event with Punjabtronix. Blending Punjabi folk music with cutting-edge electronic, this evening, presented by Asian Arts Agency, will see DJ Swami’s live electronic layered with the distinct melodies of the Punjab while John Minton’s bespoke projections of original digital animations and Punjabi images play. This show featured at SXSW earlier this year and, like last year’s Holotronica evening at Arnolfini, is a real must-see.

The Teen and Deaf Programmes, this year titled: ‘We See You’ and ‘Sister Act’, will focus on life experiences through the eyes of women of all ages, with powerful work about the struggles young women face daily and, appropriately as we celebrate 100 years since the Women’s Suffrage Movement began, films featuring female lead characters.

Family activity on Saturday 30 includes the chance to see everyone’s favourite dog Duggee on the big screen! Encounters will be screening eight episodes of this lovely children’s programme followed by a colouring session at Watershed.

Scratch ‘n Sniff Cinema will present Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. From Stinking Bishop to Bunny Burps immerse your senses in the duo’s first feature-length film from Aardman. Complete with giant vegetables, ‘Anti-Pesto’ and a mysterious beast on the loose, audiences will receive a card containing smells linked to scenes in the film, transforming their experience.

After the successful introduction of Immersive Encounters in 2017, this programme expands further for 2018 including: VR cinema screening 360 films, VR theatre screening interactive work, Games for Change summit, holograms and much more.

The Shorts2Features element of Encounters 2018 will showcase the work of filmmakers who have had short films screened at the festival, and are now making longer pieces of work. This year the programme includes Super November, written by and starring Josie Long as a librarian whose life is turned upside down when a political crisis leads to unrest in the streets.

Shorts2Features will also feature Terror Nullius, a three-part thriller made by art collective Soda_Jerk which takes a dark look at Australian pop culture.

The evening of Saturday September 29 will be a treat for fans of Italian horror, with a series of six short films followed by a screening of three-part Italian horror Black Sabbath, created by legend of the genre Mario Bava

For the entire Encounters 2018 programme and to book tickets or festival passes visit the official website

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