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A festival is always an out of the ordinary experience: a mixture of artistic concentration and artificial complexity, of local roots and international integration, an experiment-happy laboratory and a communicative stage. Over a span of seven days, VIS will once again celebrate this unique set of  circumstances – and this at a time when the exception has become the norm.

The economic crisis has turned out to be a permanent systemic phenomenon, the fear of terrorist attacks has become an everyday part of society, and hysterical exclusion seems to be the only political platform around. When the exception becomes the norm it is rarely a good sign, as history and many of the films in this year's competition point out. Using this year's focus Fear Is Not an Option, we consciously confront fear and anxiety with seven optimistic and hopeful film programs.

In total, 346 short films, animations, and music videos will screen at this year's festival: 114 as part of the four different competition categories. This year's Spotlights are dedicated to animation legend Bill Plympton, and the artist Anouk De Clercq, while lots of special programs and events serve to promote an informed dialogue and act as a counterpoint to the fiery formations of constant crisis.

So, let's savor this short time of extraordinary circumstances together – and enjoy VIS in its 13th year as a place of experimentation, discussion, and exchange. Welcome!

Daniel Ebner