Friend of the blog, and fellow animation fan, Tim Popple is a Bristol resident, so naturally he made his way along to the city’s Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Here he gives us a dispatch from the front line of the festival, and more of his writing on the fest, as well as on films in all shapes and sizes, can be found at That One Film Blog.

Until Sunday 23 September, in Bristol, the 18th Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival is on. Animation has long been a staple part of the Festival. Indeed, prior to its current incarnation when it was just an Animation Festival, a certain John Lasseter was a guest. Upon seeing the train track sequence from The Wrong Trousers, Lasseter reportedly looked worried that they were using a toy train. The reason? A certain film he was doing called Toy Story

With grouping short films together one never knows quite what one will get. One film may be transformative and transcendent, another may be woeful . I was lucky to see the former, and disappointed to see the latter today. I’m at the Festival all week, although not looking solely at animation. Today, however, was all animation, from all over the world, including some home grown talent from right here in Bristol. Particularly noteworthy were Oh Willy, a truly weird fuzzy animation film about a man’s return to his naturist roots, and a bizarre turn of events part way through. Uncategorisable.

Another film that stood out was Head over Heels, a film that took parts from Roald Dahl’s The Twits and Pixar’s Up, and created a film that used weird to its advantage: the central couple live in an unexplained house whereby one person’s celing is the other’s floor. They live in the same house, but with different gravities. It becomes a metaphor for couples never talking, never seeing eye to eye. It becomes a study on aging couples recapturing lost youth, and working out fundamental differences in their lives. It’s quite something.

There is animation to be seen every day during the Festival. Of note is a screening of Paranorman today, with a Q&A with the director Sam Fell. For the children there is an Aardman Animation Workshop on Saturday, as well as a “Children’s Jury” set of shorts specifically for children. If you are in the vicinity of Bristol, it’s well worth coming down. There is literally too much happening for one person to take in, so there is likely something that will take your fancy. And, if animation is your thing – and if you’re visiting this blog, I would imagine it is – then there is definitely something for you. Not least the rare chance to see some of Aardman’s original models up close. It’s a brilliant atmosphere on the harbourside here in Bristol. For more information go to http://www.encounters-festival.org.uk, or www.watershed.co.uk, or for daily updates on all Festival news, animation and otherwise, visit http://thatonefilmblog.com/encounters.

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