Managing director Liz Harkman is stepping down on a high, after 6 years heading up Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol.

Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival has attracted record numbers of both audience and industry to its 2013 edition which wrapped last weekend.

700 industry delegates attended the 5 day festival, which ran September 17-22. Total audiences, including for free screenings, added up to 8,000. The festival also received a record number of submissions – 2,300, up from 1789 in 2012.

Encounters moved from its November slot to September in 2012, which resulted in a dip in admissions in 2012.

“Last year everyone was a bit out of sync, but this year, people have come back. And there has been a huge number of filmmakers. There are so many people making short films, but the quality is still fantastic,” said artistic director Mark Cosgrove.

The festival attracted 198 film-makers, partly thanks to an initiative to help British film-makers, financially, with their accommodation.

“The festival is very high profile with the industry, but we want to push public audience awareness too,” says outgoing managing director Liz Harkman. “So we have been tracking trends throughout the festival, and seeing when the public comes and what they want to see.”

“We are in a really good place,” added Harkman, who is relocating to Sydney, after heading up the festival for the last 6 years.

Her successor will take up the post early November.

“One of Liz’s legacies is that she has really taken the films out throughout the year. A film festival can be quite alienating for a general audience and Liz has done a brilliant job of keeping the festival alive throughout the year,” said Cosgrove.