Encounters Festival 20/20: Looking back to look forward

Posted on Sat 23 Aug 2014
Will Self

Marking two decades as the UK’s leading short film and animation festival, Encounters 20th Short Film and Animation Festival will be returning to Watershed from Wed 17 to Sun 21 Sept. This year, the Festival theme is 20/20 Looking Back to Look Forward.

Encounters is proudly celebrating 20 years of short film with a programme of unmissable shorts, live performances, radical debates and forward thinking visions. Bringing Bristol to the forefront of the international film circuit, Watershed along with Arnolfini and the Cube Microplex are hosting 119 events throughout the six days. Particular highlights include Desert Island Flicks with writer Will Self at Arnolfini on Tue 16 Sept. Discussing his favourite films, Self will delve deep into his archive and discuss why he feels his chosen films warrant special attention. 

Over 200 competition films will be shown here at Watershed from Wed 17 to Sun 21 Sept. Presenting some of the best new short and animated films from the UK, Europe and around the world, the competition programmes include the ever popular Music Video and Late Lounge screenings, along with the hotly-anticipated new Comedy category. 

A centrepiece of this year’s festival, the Encounters Retrospective will demonstrate how the festival has helped set the international benchmark for short film and animation for two decades. The festival has handpicked 20 outstanding short films that represent the creativity, diversity and impact of short film and these will be played in a brand new format – a free drop-in Perpetual Cinema running continuously throughout the evenings and weekend. Audiences are invited to drop in at any time and watch the festival’s choice of short films that have impacted on the world in unique and individual ways.

Encounters Festival’s new Director, Debbi Lander, said:

“Encounters began life 20 years ago as a one off event, and has since grown into a significant international platform for developing and celebrating creativity, innovation and talent in film. We hope audiences will be engaged, questioned and inspired by the diverse events we have programmed this year. When the Festival began we were moving out of the analogue age and into digital so for our 20th birthday we wanted to look back at this history while looking forward to what lies ahead, allowing us to address what the future looks like for film and animation. Our festival programme this year is both nostalgic and progressive, allowing anyone who comes along to get involved in the debate surrounding film and the digital age.”

To view the full programme and to book tickets, visit