Power and Puppets: Small Stories in a Big World, manipulate Festival, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Claire Lamond (created All That Glisters, Seams and Embers, Sea Front); Suzie Templeton (created Dog); Daisy Jacobs (created The Bigger Picture), Patricia Sourdes (created Scared); Santiago Bou Grasso (created El Empleo), Jerry Hibert (created Unison Bear), Johan Oettinger (created Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto).
Running time

Edinburgh-based Claire Lamond presents an emotional programme of animation shorts that leave you pondering the wider implications of the intimate, often painful, human stories she tells.

Since graduating from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2012, Claire Lamond has made three short animation films – and all of them have been nominated for a Scottish BAFTA. In addition to her own acclaimed body of work, Claire chose to present a selection of six other animations, by international artists, that have inspired and influenced her. Claire was there in person to talk through her choices and field questions from the audience, supported by the host for the evening, Scottish animator Iain Gardner.

The first four films all looked at people dealing with grief or anxiety in an isolated, domestic setting. Suzie Templeton’s ‘Dog’ shows a young boy worrying over the circumstances of his mother’s death, about which his father has little reassurance to offer. Oscar-nominated, ‘The Bigger Picture’ by Daisy Jacobs, brings acute sensitivity and humour to the topic of an ageing parent’s final days amid increasing sibling tension and rivalry; while Patricia Sourdes’s ‘Scared’ left an over-anxious young girl in an impossible situation that appeared to have no obvious resolution.

Within this group, Claire presented her own ‘All That Glisters’, a brief but poignant glimpse of a child facing the death of her father. There is a moment when this small girl commits a tiny act of independence and rebellion, with the help of a packet of glitter pens, which brought unexpected tears to the eyes. Had this eight minute film been the only one shown this evening, it would have been worth the journey.

The next three films broadly took a look at people dealing collectively with power. Jerry Hibbert’s ‘Unison Bear’, is a one minute, amusing advert persuading people to join the union. Alongside this, El Empleo by Santiago Bou Grasso, was an uncomfortably witty imagining of the extremes of a capitalist mindset that saw people only in terms of the use they may be put to for one’s own benefit. Claire’s ‘Seams and Embers’, made for the National Mining Museum Scotland, followed her trade-mark puppets deep underground, while snatches of the stories, thoughts and feelings of miners and their families captured through interviews, provided the voice-over narrative.

The final two films were once again brimming with emotion. The first, ‘Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto’ by Johan Oettinger was shockingly brutal, quickly followed by Claire’s ‘Sea Front’, made for Fife Cultural Trust to mark last year’s centenary of World War I. The former brought sadness, despair and anger, the latter offered signs of redemption and hope. And given the unsettling emotions evoked by the evening’s entertainment, it was a relief to be offered the opportunity to see perhaps a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Each of the films presented by Claire this evening was complex in its themes and ideas, yet executed with a simple, uncluttered clarity. During the Q&A, Claire suggested that animation, like poetry, distils a given situation or emotion, stripping it down to its essential elements. Poetry, when done well, resonates with the soul and so alters the way one looks at the world. And so it was tonight, where so many of the images and the thoughts they give rise to, have hit home and so will linger.