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Encounters 2015 Live Action Competitive Shorts Awards

Sunday 20 September 2015, by Abla Kandalaft

It’s a busy time in festival world and the Mydy team has been spreading itself thin trying to cover screenings and events. High-up on our list of not-to-be-missed fests is the unfailingly excellent Bristol-based Encounters Short Film Festival.

Our two-people strong delegation was sent, and after having worked our way through the entire Watershed men and the 9 series of competitive shorts, we were able to sit down and put our thoughts on paper.

Encounters celebrates the breadth of styles and the freedom the short form allows by offering a rich, varied programme, crossing genres and boundaries between animation and live-action, narrative and experimentation, documentary and video-art. The programme was broken up into thematic series of live-action and animation shorts in competition, divided up into slightly esoteric categories (Mysterious Ways, Turning Points, Close to the Edge...), short collections based on specific themes, such as Pillow Talk (relationships), Why the Short Face (comedy), very short films (Depict), music videos, short2feature screenings and a whole host of talks and events.

Onto the live action selection. The quality on the whole was very high, so instead of picking one or two highlights, we’ve gone for a more radical, completely arbitrary approach of creating our own awards system to help us rank a selection of our favourite films.

Award for Best Surprisingly Funny Short

Unexpectedly funny, off-beat humour.

The Excursion
Eugen steals a camera from a shop his father works in...a very funny little twist that caught us off-guard; so deadpan that we weren’t sure it was meant to elicit lols.

Runner-up

The Turtle
A man is selling a turtle, a photographer is seemingly interested.
A great, very subtle turn by lead actor Kampot Zahi, whose predicament is increasingly absurd and whose befuddlement we can’t help but laugh at.

Award for Most Visually Arresting Short

Weathering
A blind man struggles through a hurricane on his way home.
A collection of mind-bending, stunning images. The second part of a trilogy that kicked off with Apsis.

Award for Best Actress

Highly biased, the great performances were too many too count, but....
Aka Utfor (Class Trip)’s Ping Mon Wallén, who plays the young protagonist, stands out.

Award for Best Actor

The Turtle’s Kampot Zahi, see above...

Award for Most Effective Short

Over
Fantastically effective little shocker. An original and hard-hitting take on a real life tragedy.

Award for Most Moving Short

Punkt Wyjscia (Starting Point)
Aneta is in prison for murder. After 9 years, she can occasionally leave to carry out community service in a nursing home, where she meets the elderly Helena. This short doc is shot like a work of fiction allows the humanity of its subjects to shine through.

Award for Most Promising Feature

Jonathan’s Chest
A more controversial award, which garnered mixed reviews from the team. Should we reward a film that feels unfinished, truncated? I say we are encouraging the director to make a feature out of this avant-goût....
One night, Alex is visited by a boy who claims to be his brother who disappeared years ago. Creepy and gripping. What happened to Jonathan? To Alex? We want to know...

To end, we’d like to include our extra coups de coeur:

The selection of comedy shorts Why the Short Face, which includes Tom Cottle’s and Matt Holt’s Not Sophie’s Choice (brilliant one-liner, with TV-favourites Catherine Tate and Alex Mcqueen), Very Lonely Cock (unfortunate translation of wacky and inexplicably funny Russian animation, no trailer available, watch out for it in festivals), The Wall (a couple of great unloquacious performances at the heart of an economical but very effective little film) and Dear Jean-Pierre, still available on iPlayer.

And lastly, try and catch Dan Hodgson’s hilarious and brilliant Love is Blind on the festival circuit.

Any message or comments?

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