Unless you’re a very keen animation enthusiast, the name Pierre-Louis Padang Coffin probably doesn’t mean much to you. But the French animator’s latest feature as director, Despicable Me 3, is the biggest family film of the summer, having taken more than £35m at the UK box office alone. The under-10s will also immediately recognise his voice as that of the Minions. Yes, all of the little buggers. Coffin has contributed the voices of Kevin, Stuart, Bob and each of the other Minions to all three Despicable Me films as well as the Minions spin-off flick. On September 21, he comes to the Arnolfini to lead an animation masterclass, during which he’ll discuss the creation of the Minions and how he came up with their funny made-up language.
This is but one of the events at this year’s 23rd annual Encounters short film and animation festival, which is absolutely packed with filmy goodness and features no fewer than 247 films in competition over six days at the Arnolfini and Watershed from September 19-24. The previously announced opening night event, Adam Buxton’s Best of Bug: The Evolution of Music Video at the Colston Hall, sold out as soon as tickets went on sale. Other programme highlights are expected to follow suit. These include the welcome return to Bristol of Oscar-winning animator Michael Dudok de Wit, director of Studio Ghibli’s fabulous The Red Turtle. He’ll be sharing his Desert Island Flicks at the Arnolfini on September 21.
Also at the Arnolfini, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (Sept 20) brings to town the series of films about African American artists of the civil rights movement that the Tate Modern commissioned from black filmmakers and directors.
Brand new for 2017 is an Immersive Encounters strand: four days of VR/AR and 360 degree work from the best new filmmakers, including Stuart Warren-Hill’s futuristic music/VR crossover piece, Holotronica 3D (Arnolfini, Sept 22), which is billed as “a 3D experience like you’ve never seen before.”
Female filmmakers are highlighted throughout the festival, with events ranging from a Polish female focus to Females in Puppetry and the splendid feminist horror collective Final Girls’ selection of Female Body-Shock Horror. This extends to Immersive Encounters, with two guest VR programmes from the female gaze curated by Catherine Allen.
Whittled down from more than 3,000 submissions, the 247 films in competition are presented in themed programmes, with something for every taste, from horror and science fiction to comedy. Nippers can look forward to an extended interactive version of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, plus Revolting Rhymes: two half-hour screenings based on Roald Dahl’s imaginative reworkings of familiar fairytales, each with a typically dark and funny Dahl-esque twist. And for adults of a not-easily-offended disposition who are happy to leave their PC sensibilities at the door, the ever-popular Late Lounge returns with two programmes offering a cornucopia of sicko delights, including such enticing titles as Summer’s Puke is Winter’s Delight, Fucking Bunnies and The Clitoris.
Oh, and if you’re feeling the pinch in Austerity Britain, you’ll be delighted to learn that Encounters is billing itself as the Festival for a Fiver, with admission to all film screenings is pegged at just £5.
The full programme and ticket details can be found on the Encounters website.