Wednesday 29 June 2011

Encounters 0117 Challenge Comes up Trumps for Bristol

The gauntlet laid down before film makers by the Encounters 0117 challenge was straightforward; make a short film about the city of Bristol searching the newly opened M Shed museum for inspiration.  The challenge for entrants was for the film to have no more than 2 minutes 30 seconds running time, and teams had just 117 hours to devise, script, film, edit and complete their project.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to a special screening held on Friday 24th June at the M Shed, of all the submissions, so I could see for myself, along with others, how these imaginative film makers rose to the challenge and captured the essence of Bristol.

I am always impressed with how makers of short films can say more in a few minutes than a Hollywood blockbuster can in two hours. The entrants for this challenge left me in awe of just how much the film makers were able to cram into their finished work. The result was an impressive array of creative films that covered every aspect of Bristol life past and present including;
  • road trip history of cinemas that no longer exist,
  • a look at today's life on Bristol's harbour juxtaposed with it's more murky past
  • stark footage of how Bristol's night life transforms the city
  • an insightful account of the life of  Bristol poet Thomas Chatterton
These subjects and more not only invoked feelings of nostalgia in an old Bristolian such as yours truly, but also gave me some fascinating insights and knowledge of my home town.

As well as a variety of fascinating subjects, entrants displayed some innovative interpretations whether it be comedy, dramatizations or documentary style, as well as some remarkable filming techniques. There has been some amazing use of animation, 3D techniques (Cheers Drive by 3D4ME), and in the case of Prelude and Fuge by a team calling themselves nomadman, some astounding and innovative use of a mobile phone. Here are just some of my favourites (although I enjoyed them all) that left a lasting impression.
  • Alan's Town by Orchard Films; a view of Bristol from one of it's prominent visually impaired residents, who also helped found the Blind Bowlers' Club.
  • Lifted Silver  by Hotwired films; a comic re-enactment of perhaps one of the biggest pranks in fresher week history.
  • On the Bus by Matinai Animation;  a heartfelt animated account of residents' fond memories of riding the bus in post war Bristol.
  • From Where We're From to Where  We Are by Barefoot Banks; through interpretive dance, we see how a community evolves through Bristolian society from one of the city's darker chapters to present day.
  • Kinocave by Kinocave;  a Neanderthal Bristolian has a Nostradamus-esque view of Bristol life after consuming some questionable fungi.
Whilst I have listed favourites, all the entries were  insightful, imaginative, funny, and in some instances brutally honest. To use the old cliché, every film was a winner yet only one could be chosen; congratulations to The Village Bicycles with their entry Wheelers Love Story, a romantic and funny tale examining Bristol as the country's first cycling city. Cycling in Bristol has virtually embedded itself as part of the city's culture and this light hearted film has capturedthat beautifully. The team were presented with a cheque for £1,000 by the Lord Mayor of Bristol.

Visitors and Bristolians alike will soon have the opportunity to see these fantastic films for themselves as they will be featured alongside exhibits at the M Shed. As a special treat however, Encounters have arranged for the films to be shown on the BBC Screen at Bristol's Millennium Square on Saturday 30th July, as part of the Bristol Harbour Festival.

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