The Little Angel Puppet Film Festival

Posted on March 15, 2011


By: Akshata Rao

Little angel theatre - Puppet Film Festival

Little Angel Theatre and Reel Islington launched London’s first ever puppet film festival from March 25-27, 2011 to commemorate Little Angel Theatre’s 50th birthday. Little Angel Theatre based in Islington also transformed its intimate 100-seat theatre into a cinema hall for this purpose. On the eve of the festival Louise Radinger, co-chair of Reel Islington told the Islington Gazette, “I have always been drawn to puppetry and think it has great potential. Hence when I heard of collaborating for this unique puppet film festival I was more than happy.”

The festival opened on March 25 showcasing three films for Faraway Fromural (Finland, 2008) directed by Katariina Lillqvist, Promised Paradise (Netherlands/Indonesia, 2006) by Dutch filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich and The Music of regret (USA, 2006) by celebrated artist, photographer and filmmaker Laurie Simmons.
“The films are made all over the world and include one set in America, A World without Regret, where Meryl Streep co-stars with puppets. It has been a great experience being a part of this film festival. I caught up on some amazing movies and had a fun time too” said one of the participants at the festival.

Five talks and workshops and ten full-length films were screened throughout the weekend, including a puppet conference where puppets discussed the nature of their existence. Louise Radinger of Reel Islington adds, “The festival’s aim is to challenge the idea that puppets can only be used in comedy or children’s entertainment. Many of the films using puppets also deal with serious issues. What draws me to puppets is their amazing ambiguity.”

Puppet Conference

On March 26 the famous toy theatre film Dante’s Inferno (USA, 2007), written and directed by Sean Meredith and Paul Zaloom a must for paper cinema fans was screened. A rare screening of the haunting and beautiful feature length film from Japanese puppet animation master Kihachiro Kawamoto, The Book of the Dead (Japan, 2005) followed.

The most awaited ‘Puppet Shorts Night’ where wonderful new short films contributed by a wide range of interested filmmakers and budding puppeteers from London and further afield were screened. Dr. Dan North, film lecturer and specialist on puppetry and animatronics in film, who conducted tours on puppet films and their themes from early film to the present day exclaims, “Although puppets are people’s inventions they have a life. It is simply amazing to watch them come to life on the screen.”

And, finally on March 27, the festival closed with the UK Premiere of Rehersal For A Sicilian Tragedy written by the Italian American actor John Turturro and noted puppeteer Roman Paska. The film explores the essence of Sicily through puppet theatre.

Puppet Show

Lynette Shanbury, General Manager at Little Angel Theatre said, “It’s very exciting and a completely new thing for us. We are delighted to have Roman Paska introducing his film and talking about it with the audience. It’s great to partner with Reel London, to bring puppets to people.”

Posted in: Film