ON THE BLOG: Five questions for the directors of Encounters

Alice Cabañas and Rich Warren are the festival directors of the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Here they tell us about the festival’s early years, how Creative Europe funding has opened up opportunities to establish new partnerships, and why sufficient evidence is key to a successful application.

Tell us about Encounters

"Encounters first began life in 1995 as Brief Encounters – a one-off event to mark the centenary of cinema. It proved so successful that it became an annual attraction and has expanded year on year, merging in 2006 with Animated Encounters, which was set up in 2001, to become the Encounters Short Film Festival.

"Today Encounters is the UK’s leading short film and animation festival, specialising in discovering, supporting and developing new talent in filmmaking, providing a platform for emerging and established filmmakers from around the world and a unique meeting place for the industry.

"The Festival presents one of the world’s leading international competitions for short film and animation, and is also an official gateway to the world’s most prestigious awards: the BAFTAs, the European Film Awards and the Cartoon d’Or and is a qualifying festival for The Academy Awards®.

"This year, the 22nd Encounters Festival will showcase the best new short films from around the world, alongside an intensive industry programme featuring masterclasses, panel discussions, talks and workshops with leading figures from the film and animation industries.

"Our offices are based in Bristol, around the corner from Watershed, our main venue. We operate from the Bristol Festivals hub – a building run by Bristol Festivals which is a network of festivals and large scale cultural events in Bristol. Rich Warren our Co Director is also chair of this group."

Is this your first Creative Europe grant?

"No, the festival initially received funding from the MEDIA programme from 2003 – 2006. This funding was not renewed again until 2012 and has been renewed each year since."

Can you share any feedback you received from the Commission on your application? What made it successful?

"The festival always scores well on the strength of the team through evidencing our ability and commitment to delivering the activity proposed.  We make a point of emphasising special activity and how we intend to engage with specific audiences and what the impact will be – giving clear and coherent examples of potential outcomes. This is received well. We also received positive feedback regarding our role in the promotion and circulation of European films through our broad network of partners with a slight negative being placed on our ability to reach the quota of non-national European films to be screened at the festival, which has been addressed this year."

Aside from financially, how has the Creative Europe funding been beneficial?

"The funding enables us to cement our place as a European festival of significance for the filmmakers, the industry and audiences in general."

"It also opens the door to establishing new partnerships with other Creative Europe-funded organisations. Knowing that they have the Creative Europe seal of approval makes the partnerships much more likely to be beneficial for all parties."

Who should apply for funding and what advice would you give to potential applicants?

"Allow enough time for the application – they can take longer than you anticipate! Make sure you have sufficient evidence to back up your claims about your organisation – and make sure you are collecting and evaluating your event data regularly to enable you to refer back to this.  Partnerships are key – we place a strong emphasis on developing and maintaining effective partnerships to allow us to deliver our objectives and expand our networks."

The 22nd edition of Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival takes place between 20-25 September in Bristol, England.

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Image (clockwise form left to right): E.W.A by Gigi Ben Artzi, Class15 by Dean Leon Anderson, The Race by Hodie Haslam, Shelter by Reggie Yates.