Returning for its 24th year, Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival (25-30 Sept) is a jewel in the crown of Bristol’s vibrant and diverse film scene. As well as being Bristol’s longest running film festival, the cutting edge Encounters film festival acts as a gateway into the Academy Awards and Europe’s leading film prizes such as the BAFTAs and European Film Awards.

To help you get the most out of your Encounters experience, we’ve compiled a list of six key things you need to see this year.

Virtual Reality

Bristol is one of the country’s leading lights when it comes to virtual reality, with a slew of creative companies making some of the most groundbreaking VR content right on our doorstep.

Virtual Reality returns to Encounters for 2018, with an incredible and diverse programme on Saturday 29 September, curated by Bristol’s Limina Immersive. This year’s programme offers some of the most exciting and insightful VR content ever featured at Encounters including the story of one man’s dedication to saving the Ethiopian Wolf, an interactive exploration of the development of our senses inside the womb and a spectacular short narrated by Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o about an African community re-establishing the bonds that have long enabled humankind and wildlife to coexist.

Six things you need to see at Encounters Festival 2018

Image - My Africa, director David Allen

ARCADIA @ Boiling Wells

Encounters 2018 is offering something rather special to cinephiles with Compass Presents: ARCADIA. This special outdoor screening of the BFI’s newly released horror-folk feature will be presented at the Boiling Wells Amphitheatre, near the St Werburgh’s City Farm. After emerging through the first tunnel as you approach the farm, continue along Mina Road... your experience will begin as soon as you enter the second, spooky tunnel.

Before the screening, explore the wild gardens of Boiling Wells, and discover the secrets hidden within. Then take your seat under the stars in the outdoor amphitheatre, ready to travel through the seasons in this beautiful, brutal, magic and mad portrait of rural Britain.

Compass presents Arcadia: Six things you need to see at Encounters Festival 2018

Image - Compass presents ARCADIA

Expand your horizons

Encounters is the perfect place to expand your horizons in the world of short film and animation. Perhaps the most well-known international works featuring at Encounters this year are that of Tsuneo Goda, the creative force behind Domo-kun and Komanenko – The Curious Cat.

Encounters is a truly international festival, showcasing creative output from many countries. This year the festival features screenings and talks dedicated to Ghanaian animation, Films from the Arctic – a series of shorts focusing on those that live under the hard conditions of Northern Norway, as well as a focus on the mastery of Georgian cinema.

Domo-Kun - six things you need to see at Encounters Festival 2018

Image - Dome-Kun, Director Tsuneo Goda

Animation, Animation, Animation

It wouldn’t be Encounters without a healthy dose of animation; the festival is a gateway for some of the film industry’s brightest up-and-coming animation talent. There’s plenty of opportunity to get your animation fix at Encounters, with six dedicated programmes taking place from 26-29 September. The line-up covers everything from a safari trip gone awry, science fiction fables to why Brexit is happening.

Brexicuted - Six things you need to see at Encounters 2018

Image - Brexicuted, credit Chris Shepherd 

Family Time

The weekend at Encounters is family time and on Saturday morning CBeebies favourite Duggee will feature in a very special Hey Duggee screening. Families can enjoy eight episodes of this hugely popular show, sing along to kicky kicky kick kick and take part in Hey Duggee colouring session for the little ones.

Working with film education charity Into Film, the Children’s Jury programme of shorts was chosen by pupils from Fairfield School and covers everything from Gonzalo and his quest for burritos, Simon’s Cat and what would you do if you had extendable arms?

A special treat is in store for families as Scratch ‘n Sniff Cinema presents the Aardman classic Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Viewers will be presented with a special card containing weird and wonderful smells, from stinking bishop to bunny burps, to totally transform their Were-Rabbit experience.

Aardman Animations Wallace & Gromit: Six things you need to see at Encounters Festival 2018

Image - Aardman Animations Wallace & Gromit

Late Lounge

The now infamous Late Lounge has become one of the highlights of the festival and 2018 is no different... as the sun sets things get a little bit naughty! From carnal curiosities and hilarious explorations of intimacy, through the Zombie feasts, psychological thrillers and even a 90’s style Essex sitcom turned bloodbath; the Late Lounge is the place to go and laugh at all the things you ought not to and be afraid... be very afraid!

Late lounge - Six things you need to see at Encounters 2018

Image - Cyclists, director Veljko Popovic

  • Tickets for Encounters are available through the festival website and serious film fans can purchase a full festival pass, giving access to all the film screenings throughout the festival.

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Encounters Film Festival
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Bristol’s largest international film festival celebrates its 25th edition this year with a handpicked programme of film, animation and virtual reality.