Following last year’s incredible festival was always going to be a challenge. However, it’s a challenge the team at Encounters have once again approached, tackled, and somehow yet again come out on top of. It would be easy for us to triple or quadruple this list of recommendations but for our own sanity, we deemed it best to distil the wonderful programme of shorts this year down to 10 absolute must-sees. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy a DN curated list of standouts from the 25th Encounters Short Film Festival.

Daughter – Daria Kashcheeva

A film which seemed to come up in every “What’s the best thing you’ve seen” conversation at Encounters this year, Daria Kashcheeva’s wordless stop motion short Daughter deftly deploys the immediacy of a hand-held camera aesthetic as it depicts the emotional gulf which has stretched through the years between a woman and her father.

Makun (Don’t Cry) – Emilio Martí López

Having been able to document thousands of drawings on the walls of Immigrants Detention Centers in the Canary Islands, Makun (Don’t Cry) narrates multiple stories, animating the drawings made by hundreds of the anonymous hands, revealing the art behind their stories.

What Do You Know About the Water and the Moon – Jian Luo

Surreal and deeply moving, What Do You Know About the Water and the Moon follows a young woman who, during an attempted abortion, gives birth to a live jellyfish. It’s a seemingly strange premise dealt with a pertinent amount of emotional depth.

Watermelon Juice – Irene Moray

Whilst on a seemingly serene and relaxing holiday a young woman and her boyfriend confront past emotional traumas with care, patience and affection. A very powerful short packed with tender and vulnerable performances.

Roughhouse – Jonathan Hodgson

Winner of the Best of British Award in the animation category, Jonathan Hodgson’s Roughhouse follows three friends as they start University in the 80s and the manipulative new member whose inclusion in the group causes tensions to boil over. Sharply animated with an acerbic flare.

Boiling Point – Philip Barantini

Featuring a stellar performance from the always great Stephen Graham, Philip Barantini’s one-shot short Boiling Point ratchets up the pressure and hair singeing insults thrown out by a talented head chef attempting to keep his overstretched kitchen on course.

Mind My Mind – Floor Adams

If there was an award for heart-warmer of the year, Mind My Mind by Floor Adams would’ve been a shoo-in to win. It follows an autistic young man trying the win the affections of the girl he likes. If only he could avoid telling her about planes.

She Runs – Qiu Yang

Stoically shot and packed with tension. She Runs centres on a young Chinese aerobic dancer as she confronts the societal and parental expectations placed upon her.

My Moon – Eusong Lee

Will director Eusong Lee beautifully personifies the complicated relationship between the Earth, Moon, and Sun in his playful celestial bodies romance My Moon.

The Devil’s Harmony – Dylan Holmes Williams

For what is essentially Glee meets Carol Morley’s The Falling Dylan Holmes Williams’ The Devil’s Harmony is a wickedly spun tale of high school horror with a brilliantly hilarious ending that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

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