Guest Blog: Radical Shorts at Encounters 2014

Guest Blogger Elizabeth Mizon is a filmmaker and writer living in Bristol, working with both grassroots and established film teams in the city to promote radical film culture.

This year’s 20th anniversary at Encounters has produced some significant slants and strands for the event that not only capture an apt zeitgeist, but also reach into the past, and into international communities, to make this year’s festival as relevant and integral as it ever has been.

Encounters 20/20 is programming a weekend of events concerned with radicalism: short films will be screened and discussions will follow at the independent and horizontally-hierarchied Cube Cinema, a radical venue itself, on the Saturday and Sunday, while on Friday the Arnolfini hosts a symposium devoted to questions concerning the nature and praxis of radicalism titled Aesthetics/Politics/Activism/Art: What Is Radical Now?

The Cube line-up on Saturday sees the Bristol leg of Vienna-Bristol-Riga: a journey in radical filmmaking: three sessions of short films curated respectively by Encounters and the Bristol Radical Film Festival, Vienna Independent Shorts, and 2Annas International Film Festival in Latvia. There is a focus on international filmmakers in our curation, as brimming bodies of work emerging from the struggles against dictatorial and violently repressive societies are unearthed from the deluge of individual minutiae and aspirational fantasies we are so used to in easily accessible western cinema.

Radicalism in both politics and aesthetics is catered for. For example: Trips and Trance: Ideas of a Subcutaneous Cinema(Cube Cinema/Sat 20th Sep, 10:30 a.m./£5 [£4.50 conc.]/Dir: Various/ Cert.15) programmed by Vienna Independent Shorts is bound to be a trip, as the title suggests – just their promotional image is enough to lure visually hungry audiences in. Know Your Enemy: A Journey Into Radical Filmmaking (Cube Cinema/Sat 20th Sep, 12:30 p.m./£5 [£4.50 conc.] /Dir: Various/ Cert.15) is co-curated by Bristol Radical Film Festival, who have a radical shorts programme of their own each year; aware of the potential power of a short, sharp shove to the senses, BRFF frequently provide quality political content to Bristol’s masses, and the un-missable Now and Isle of Flowers will screen in this afternoon series.

That these films are short, political and pertinent is interesting, considering the recent rise in viral political video. Were all of this year’s radical shorts programme to be released today, might they have gained far more exposure via our global networks? In an era of decreasing attention spans and increasing screen-staring, the communication and motivational potential of radical shorts has a good chance of thriving if we are willing to pay them our attention.

Find film reviews and more from Elizabeth at elizabeththethird.wordpress.com and @elizabethethird.

 See the full Encounters programme listings here.