Focussing on parent-child relationships, this insightful selection of short films chosen by Flatpack’s curators encapsulates both ordinary and avant-garde families. Tackling everything from intergenerational curiosity and the creation of memories, to familial expectations, responsibility and duty, these films pull their audience into recognisable and affecting worlds. Featuring Oscar nominated animation The Bigger Picture and the latest film from BAFTA Scotland’s New Talent Award winner, Duncan Cowles, the quality of this year’s selection was beyond compare.
 
After taking home the BAFTA for Short Animation, it’s a mystery how The Bigger Picture missed out on this year’s Oscar. This painstakingly produced animation brings life size oil paintings into a 3D world of papier-mâché props. The work of London based animator Daisy Jacobs is instantly recognisable. Her earlier 2D works, Tosh and Don Justino de Neve share the same, distinct style of illustration giving us grotesque characters and a superficial upper class. In The Bigger Picture, Jacobs turns her attention to the emotional intricacies of more ordinary problems. Two brothers cope with their dying mother: Richard lovingly cares for her, while his brother, Nick, carries on with his own life. Most visually striking is Jacobs’ use of animation to project Richard’s overwhelming emotions. In one scene Richard grows taller, towering over his mother in frustration, in another he pours a teapot which drowns the room in water.
 
Inventive animation aside, it’s Jacobs’ writing (inspired by her own family experiences and dying grandmother) that packs the emotional punch. That Jacobs is able to deliver this breathtaking complexity of feeling – guilt, love, regret, anger, exasperation, denial and evasion – with such a minimalist approach says much of her potential as a filmmaker. Even as its characters worry about the impact of caring on their own lives, The Bigger Picture manages to balance a darkly humorous tone with heartfelt sincerity, ‘I thought about sex every moment of my life until I was forty, now I just think about death,’ says Nick.
 
You can watch The Making Of The Bigger Picture and trailers for some of the other shorts included in Flatpack’s Family Portraits selection, including my personal favourite Directed By Tweedie, below. You can read my thoughts on all of these films over at Gorilla Film Online here.

You can find all of my Flatpack 2015 posts here.
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