Screening online as part of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Susan Omand took her short-film medicine with 3 Teaspoons of Sugar from Cabblow Studios...
In a household where mealtime is a delightful feast full of bonding, fellowship & good eating, 3 members of this tight knit family are diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus.
Diabetes Mellitus (the disease we all commonly know as Diabetes) affects more than 4.7 million people in the UK* and 34.2 million people in the US** with the vast majority (i.e. over 90% in both countries) of those people having type 2 Diabetes (called sugar diabetes in this film), the version of the disease that happens when your pancreas is no longer able to produce enough insulin to cope with too much sugar in the diet***.
Why am I starting a review by blinding you with science AND statistics? [Because it's you? - Ed] Basically, because Diabetes, and how it affects different people’s ways of life, is the subject of this beautifully conceived animation by Kabelo Maaka and Dr Tshepo Maaka. Also, given the prevalence of it in the population, you will likely know someone who has the disease, or is at risk of it, which makes this short film even more relevant.
I personally know several people with Type 2 Diabetes who manage their symptoms in a range of ways, from changes in diet and lifestyle to medication with pills or injections, so I was immediately interested to listen to the interviews and stories about members of the same family, all different generations, who were dealing with the disease, their own diagnosis and management, in their own ways. Listening to real people, including a Doctor, talk about their experiences of Diabetes openly and honestly, helped to demystify the disease for me in a very personable way, with a lot of practical information wrapped up in an engaging hand-drawn looking animation. The style of interviews too, with the family members talking to, and about, each other, also shook the formality out of what is, essentially, a medical documentary, and made it a lot more relatable and easy to take on board.
I know that I certainly learned a lot from watching this 12 minute film; from causes and symptoms, demystifying the medical terms, to how you know you may be at risk, what happens in tests that may be used in diagnosis, to how to best deal with a diagnosis and any complications that may arise. I also picked up tips for how to avoid diabetes (including something I hadn’t thought of which is portion sizes – it’s easier for the pancreas to deal with a little at a time rather than a lot all at once) and got a new understanding of quite how serious this disease can be. This new knowledge has, I think, made me more empathetic towards my friends who deal with this serious disease on a daily basis and I now feel I know better how to support and, more importantly, how NOT to sabotage their management of Diabetes.
You can watch a short interview with the film makers below and see the full film online as part of the Annecy Festival until the end of the month or rent it via Vimeo video on demand.
*** There is also Type 1 Diabetes which is when you are born with a damaged pancreas and are not able to produce your own insulin right from birth. This version is NOT cause by diet related issues. The third type is Gestational Diabetes, which happens sometimes during pregnancy but usually goes away after the baby is born. It can still, however, be dangerous to both mother and baby.
Image - Cabblow Studios