Based in the vibrant city of Bristol, UK, Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival is back in 2012 and coming of age for its 18th edition.

Growing up but not growing old, six fast, furious and fun days of screenings, gala events, workshops and industry debates will celebrate the best in international short film and animation talent.

Together the “Animated” and “Brief” Encounters strands, which used to be separate festivals until they were happily united in 2006, present one of the best-known platforms for up and coming short film and animation creatives from around the globe. For those selected, Encounters is now a gateway to the world’s most prestigious awards (Oscars®, European Film Awards, BAFTAs, and the Cartoon D’Or). Promoting the short form as a means to develop the next generation of filmmakers and animators, the event acts as a springboard for emerging talent, and is renowned for identifying the people to watch.

To find an improved spot in the crowded festival calendar and give a better timeframe for shorts eligible for Oscar® nomination, Encounters is moving to earlier (and sunnier) dates in September: 18th-23rd in 2012. The action will happen in venues around Bristol’s picturesque Harbourside, as well as beyond the cinemas at pop-up screenings, music festivals, schools, BBC Big Screens and an outdoor Solar Cinema Tour in local parks.

By this year’s Call for Entries deadline on 6th June, the festival expects to receive 2,000 submissions from over 60 countries, of which over 180 works (under 30 minutes) will be selected for its competitive screening programmes. Two international juries will present 16 awards, with a total cash prize pot of €13,000.

Last year Encounters introduced two European New Talent Awards (animation and live action). Graduating students and first time directors are again eligible for these awards in 2012, with a €1,000 prize up for grabs.

And for those short on time but with grand ideas, DepicT! challenges creatives to show their stuff in just a minute and a half. A Watershed project as part of Encounters, this competition is free to enter (deadline 9th July – see www.depict.org) and offers an award of €1,800.

Industry presence at the festival is strong, allowing over 700 filmmakers, buyers, sales agents, distributors and other professionals to rub shoulders. Workshops, masterclasses, seminars and panel discussions on future trends create a hotbed of activity, alongside a Shorts2Features section for first and second features and the Future Encounters international strand for 10 selected upcoming film talents. What’s more, the Delegate Viewing Library, hosted by Reelport, will make all Call for Entries submissions received available to festival delegates on-site and online in the following 6 months.

Encounters attracts a public audience of around 8,500, showcasing a dynamic and inspiring range of work. In 2012 there will be a Focus on Finland, as well as two programmes of ground breaking stereoscopic discoveries from 1930s Russia. Further events will cross all creative forms such as film, art, animation, performance, gaming and music. The full programme will be announced in July.

Find out more at www.encounters-festival.org.uk