Joseph Pierce's Stand Up
'Saturday morning was catch-up time and I made the journey to the festival early to book a place at the HP Delegates Viewing Lounge. Word around the campfire was that Stand Up (dir: Joseph Pierce) is good, and after seeing it I can confirm that Stand Up is a very impressive and disturbing. Animated with wobbly and morphing black and white images, Stand Up shows comedian John J Jones performing increasingly desperate and uncomfortable gags as his routine is falling to bits, leading to a pitch-black climax.
Another animation I checked out was a dark work by Aardman – Stuff Vs Stuff: Stereo (dir: Ed Patterson and Will Studd). This is a stop-motion piece about a fight to the death between a vacuum and a walkman, and ranks pretty highly on the 'best things I've ever seen' list. After treating myself to some animation it was time to learn something. Hosted by Channel 4, Explore 4Talent was an enlightening presentation for anyone interested in getting into the media and covered the various ways of getting to work for the TV channel. We also got a neat wicker bag and 4Talent magazine just for turning up.
Ending my Encounters experience was the Mini Masterpieces premiere. Mini Masterpieces is a program run by South West Screen and Calling The Shots which aims at giving people opportunities to make a short film based on a pre-chosen theme (this year was 'independence'), providing they've got a strong idea and passion for the subject. The showing of the shorts was preceded with a short documentary about the selection process. The powerful Misfit (dir: Peter Lown) highlights the prejudices she facing a woman with learning disabilities. See As We See (dir: Aisha Richards and Carly Roythorne) and Time To Fly (dir: Lara Parker) offer two different perspectives on parenthood, the former concerning the prejudice against young mothers and the latter about the difficulties faced when children leave home. Sweet Dependence (dir: Tom Kiziewicz) charts the director's own troubles with diabetes, in a way that is refreshingly upbeat and light-hearted. Following the short films was a Q and A by the directors of the shorts, though the stars of the show were the disruptive babies of Aisha and Carly.
Mini Masterpieces is an event that neatly sums Encounters as a whole, a unique film festival that gives a wide variety of people from all walks and backgrounds, within and out of the film industry, a place to show their work and get recognition. Thinking back over the festival, it would be hard to find a favourite film, although, Stuff Vs Stuff: Stereo is definitely in the top three. Awards wise, three of my favourites did well including September, a deserved winner of the Best of British prize, Stand Up which won the Nahemi/Kodak Prize For Creative Filmmaking, and Varmints, an Encounters nomination for next year's Cartoon D'Or.
The full list of winners is as follows: International Jury Award: Dennis (Dir: Mads Matthiesen; Denmark)
Best Of British: September (Dir: Esther May Campbell; UK)
ITV West Award and South West Screen Audience Award: Leaving
Children's Jury Award: Office Noise
Depict! Awards (for the best entry of 90 seconds or less): Enough (Jury Prize) (Dir: Tor Kristoffersen; UK); Breaking The Mould (Online Audience) (Dir: Rebecca Manley and Luca Paulli; UK); What's Virgin Mean? (NFTS Award) (Dir: Michael Davies; UK)
UK Film Council Audience Award: Skhizien (Dir: Jeremy Clapin, France)
Nahemi/Kodak Prize For Creative Filmmaking: Stand Up (Dir: Joseph Pierce; UK)
Nahemi/Kodak Prize Cinematography Award: Island To Isla (Dir: Jem Garrard; UK)
Cartoon D'Or Nominations: Varmints (Dir: Mark Craste; UK); Skhizien (Dir: Jeremy Clapin, France); This Is Jo3 (Dir: Once Were Farmers; UK)
My three days at Encounters has been very inspiring, full of short wonders and after experiencing the festival this year, I hope to be back again next time with my own short.