The Encounters Short Film Festival returns this week, transforming Bristol into the City of Film once more.

The event is now in its nineteenth year and will screen over 200 shorts while simultaneously hosting an array of pop-up cinemas, free outdoor screenings, and a number of panel discussions covering diverse topics from forging a career in film to the future of the film industry.

Short film festivals like Encounters can be prime opportunities for current or potential film auteurs to network, gain insight into the film industry and cultivate knowledge. While many attend the festival just to learn, many filmmakers of wildly varying career levels descend on the city to get their work seen. But in an increasingly competitive market, how can the shoots of talent get recognised amongst the fields of professional and established work on display at Encounters?

Kieran Argo, animation programmer at the festival, has a few ideas on what programme selectors look out for when putting together a prestigious festival: there are no "preferred styles or genres," he says, but when it comes to making a successful short, filmmakers should recognise the importance of production values. "I always approach a narrative film as objectively as possible and look at the qualities in, for example; lighting, character design, story, script, editing, sound and music, and of course, animation," he says. "From looking at how well the main production values are presented then I can make a judgement about how 'good' a film is."

Animation, which Bristol is synonymous with thanks largely to local heroes Aardman, is a medium Argo feels lends itself particularly well to the short. He feels it gives more leeway for creative freedom. "It's often more realistic, practical yet equally challenging for most animators to keep it short," he explains. "Feature length animation is incredibly time-consuming and difficult; big budgets and many years of development and production are required."

This appreciation of animation is evident throughout the programme. There's an overview of the work of special guest Richard Williams, triple Oscar winner and lead animator on 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit,' alongside talks from Aardman co-founder Peter Lord.

Although making shorts has never been easier, Argo feels that "not everyone with a good digital SLR camera is a good filmmaker." He continues: "film literacy and the techniques of good storytelling still need to be taught and learnt".

But this is where Encounters steps in, helping to educate on the importance of shorts as well as showing potential filmmakers their competition. "Encounters festival makes big steps towards a clearer path and understanding of the fast changing world of short and animation production for emerging filmmakers and animators," concludes Argo.

So whether you're after an interesting late night discussion about Ingrid Bergman by the Harbourside or an early morning discussions about Woody Allen over a flat white, make sure you get yourself down to the Encounters Festival for an all-encompassing journey into the world of short film.

You can browse Encounters Short Film Festival's Daily Line Up here and the festival's full guide here.

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