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Encounters International Film Festival Entrants Preview

The programme for the 16th Encounters Film Festival held annually in Bristol, England was announced on 23rd September 2010. It outlined the events and appearances for this year’s internationally acclaimed celebration of short films and animation as well as previewing two of the entrants looking to compete for the internally acclaimed and much coveted array of awards.

Mobile – Animated Encounters

Germany’s entrant for the Animated Encounters segment of the competition hopes to steal the show with this animated short that invokes the spirit of Aardman Animations whilst conveying a message about the fragility of society.

The story of Mobile is simple. A cow hanging all alone from a baby’s mobile feels the pangs of his loneliness and wants to join his friends on the other side. However since he is tied to the mobile his attempts to free himself upset the balance and cause mayhem for the other toys.

Written and directed by newcomer Verena Fels, a recent graduate of the Baden Film Academy in Württemberg Germany, Mobile executes the anthropomorphising of children’s playthings, brilliantly creating an entertaining story. At a mere fraction of the running time of feature length animation, Mobile is equally enthralling and packed with so much humour and action it is hard to believe it has a running time of only six minutes.

The quality of the animation (considering this is a first time venture) is excellent, and in many ways exceeds that of most major studio productions. The characterisations of the animals show impressive attention to detail and add to the enjoyment of the viewing. The absence of any dialogue may be noticeable but none is craved as the effects of the cow’s actions say more about upsetting the balance of society which is more appreciated as a realisation through witnessing the unfolding and amusing events than having it explained with pointless dialogue.

Heat – Brief Encounters

Co-produced by Film London and the UK Film Council Heat marks the film debut of former stage manager Debbie Tucker Green who wrote and directed this engaging short film set during a heat wave engulfing the city of London. The film centres around an average urban family whose mother Donna, is burdened with a secret. Donna’s hesitation in revealing the secret to her partner Michael causes family tensions to rise with the temperature and threatens to drive a wedge between them.

This simple yet intrinsically executed story is written very much like a stage production. The dialogue is reminiscent of the sort of things family members address to one another and spoken softly and underplayed. This approach works well in that it creates a surreal atmosphere which is coupled with some beautiful cinematography. The hazy, almost dreamlike quality of the scenes and the constant will she/won’t teasing of the script make this for nervous viewing as it forces the viewer to make assumptions about the secret, thereby creating an uncomfortable ride until the unexpected conclusion.

Ultimately the cleverness of the film lies in its ability to play with viewer’s perceptions of the events unfolding, revealing very little and juxtaposing the increasing heat of the sun with the build up of tensions within the family, a trick used to great effect by Spike Lee in his controversial 1989 hit Do The Right Thing.

Shape of Things to Come

Whether it is animation or short film making, these two productions indicate the level of talent over which audiences and juries are expected to deliberate and from which to choose a winner. Both of these films are indicative of an ability to convey equal if not greater range of depth and emotion in very little time. The festival will be take place from 16th – 21st November 2010 which will feature many viewings of short films competing against one another as well as an assortment of events, workshops and guest appearances celebrating the art of short film making.

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