Encounters Film Festival stages one of the world’s leading international competitions for short films. The International Competition is an official gateway to the world’s most prestigious awards: The Academy Awards, BAFTAs, and the European Film Awards.

Our mission is to provide an international platform for new and emerging talent in filmmaking. For over a quarter of a century, Encounters Film Festival has welcomed guests from around the world, connecting filmmakers with the wider industry, our wonderful audiences and, of course, each other.


Films in the competition are presented in thematic programmes including live action, animation, documentary, experimental/artists’ moving image works and judged by an international jury of industry professionals. The films compete for the following awards:

- Brief Encounters Grand Prix for live-action shorts
- Animated Encounters Grand Prix for animated shorts

The winning Brief Encounters and Animated Encounters films are both eligible for Academy Awards nominations and each receives a £2000 cash prize.

The films in the International Competition are also eligible for the International Audience Award.


The National Competition showcases work from UK-based filmmakers including live action, animation, documentary, and experimental/artists’ moving image works. Films in the competition are judged by a national jury of industry professionals and compete for the UK Award, which carries a cash prize of £1000. Entries submitted here may also be screened in the International Competition.

The films in the National Competition are also eligible for the UK Audience Award.

Films made by UK Student filmmakers are eligible for the UK Student Award, which carries a cash prize of £500.


The Southwest Showcase is Encounters' newly revamped competition to nurture and celebrate local talents. Live action, animation, documentary, and experimental/artists' moving image works from Southwest-based filmmakers are eligible to participate. Films in the competition are judged by a jury of industry professionals and compete for the Southwest Award, which carries a cash prize of £500. In addition to the Southwest Competition, the short films submitted can also qualify for the National or International Competition.

The films in the Southwest Competition are also eligible for the UK Audience Award.


27th March 2023 – Regular Deadline
15th May 2023 – Late Deadline
29th May 2023 – Final Deadline
12th June 2023 – UK Student Final Deadline

All submissions are final and there are no refunds. Films need to be submitted through FilmFreeway to be considered for inclusion. Please ensure you only submit your film once – there are no refunds for duplicate submissions. Encounters does not offer reduced entry fees to International student filmmakers.

The festival is open to short films of all production techniques, including animation, documentary, experimental or artists' films and hybrid work from low to high budgets.

Films completed after 1st January 2022 will be eligible for the 2023 festival. The maximum eligible duration is 40 minutes (including credits). Encounters does not require any premiere status, including online.

Films previously submitted for competition to past editions of the festival are not eligible for re-submission unless withdrawn prior to the programme announcement or at the festival’s discretion. Films that have appeared in guest programmes at previous editions are still eligible to submit, providing they meet all other eligibility criteria.

By submitting the film the applicant confirms that they possess all rights necessary for the screening of the submitted film at this film festival. All festival entries may be stored in the festival archive and used for research and educational purposes. Encounters will never use a film without permission.

All programming selections are at the discretion of the festival curatorial team and their decision is final. Unfortunately, Encounters can’t offer personalised feedback upon rejection.


Entries created within UK educational institutions are eligible for the UK Student Award. You may be asked to provide evidence that you were a student in UK education at the time of making the film. Submissions made through the UK Student category are automatically enrolled in the National Competition. Films from UK student filmmakers can still be submitted to the International Competition but a reduced entry fee is only available for submissions made through the UK Student category. Please make sure you select the correct category – Encounters does NOT have a refund policy.

Overall Rating
  • Neil Horton-Hill

    Big thanks to Rich and the team for screening our film, 'My Name Is Yours', at the 2022 edition of the festival. There was an amazing range of work on show from filmmakers all around the world. It was great to see everyone's work and network with fellow creatives!

    November 2022
  • Alex Crumbie

    A really fantastic festival! I was so happy to have my film, Confessions of an English Ant-Eater, screened there. Thank you to all the organisers!

    October 2022
  • Thank you so much for inviting our film "The Cook" to Bristol. We loved the festival and the city even more ! I hope to be back with future projects !

    October 2022
  • Shengwei Zhou

    Amazing experience and I am so honored

    October 2022
  • Gargantua Film Distribution

    Thanks so much for programming "Happy New Year, Jim" by Andrea Gatopoulos! Looking forward to coming back!

    October 2022