Flatpack Film Festival is a week long feast of cinematic delights running from Tuesday 19th April to Sunday 24th April taking place in a host of venues all over Birmingham.
Born in a Digbeth pub and a Balsall Heath attic Flatpack is firmly established as one of this city’s cultural highlights. Now in its 10th year Flatpack continues to stay true to its aims of discovery, experimentation and above all fun.
This year there is a special focus on the relationship between sound and image with highlights such as screenings of Vampyr and Faust both of which are accompanied by a live score.
With over 130 events taking in screenings, performances, late night parties, talks and workshops Flatpack Film festival goers can expect a mix of brand new talent, forgotten classics and plenty of surprises to boot.
Here are five of my Flatpack Film Festival picks:
1. Once Upon a Time in the West (Midlands) Thursday 21st April, 18:30 – 20:00 at The Shell, BCU Parkside. Free.
I’ve attended several events at Flatpack Film Festival over the years and it struck me that the majority of screenings I’m drawn to are either by up and coming film makers or they are slightly bonkers/ experimental or a combination of both. This is a showcase of various productions by film makers from the region. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing The Brothers McLeod’s mockumentary Standing Still which tells the story of a living statue who is standing still in more ways than one and Michael Lightborne’s architectural sci-fi The Future is a Waste of Time which is billed as an ode to Birmingham Central Library.
2. Flatpack Instameet Saturday 23rd April, 10:00-11:30 at Electric Cinema. This event is now sold out.
I was lucky to get a place on this Instameet as it sold out in about 30 minutes. I can’t wait to explore the UK’s oldest cinema on a behind the scenes tour, and then discover some of the city’s “Invisible Cinemas” with Ben Waddington from Still Walking. Naturally there will be a post on this.
Gas Hall opening times: Wednesday – Friday 12:00 – 19:00, Saturday 10:30 – 21:00, Sunday 10:30 – 17:00
Speaking of The Electric my next selection uncovers the origins of this well-loved fixture in Birmingham’s film scene. The name Jacey was derived from the name of the owner who was the energetic entrepreneur Joseph Cohen. The Electric was once part of his empire across the country which included newsreel cinemas in London, Manchester and Bristol. Recently a Jacey company scrapbook came to light which tells this story through cuttings, photographs and original programmes. Flatpack will be showing reproductions of a selection of pages from the book.
I do love finding out about the history of places and seeing how it has changed over the years so I’m pretty excited to see all the artefacts on show.
4. Girl Shy Saturday 23rd April, 19:30-21:30 (film starts at 20:15) at BM&AG Edwardian Tea Rooms. £12.00/£10.00
Who are the names that spring to mind when you think of the stars of comedies from the silent era? Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin? Whilst Harold Lloyd might not be a name that is as well known today as some of his contemporaries you might be more familiar with the iconic image of him dangling from a clock which is taken from a still from the film Safety Last (1923). Girl Shy was made a year later and boasts the greatest race-to-the-rescue sequence in film history. Apparently the ending of this film is where Mike Nichols got his inspiration for The Graduate’s famous wedding scene. Flatpack are making this event a real celebration of the era with Cotton Club-era tunes and drinks prior to the screening. There will also be a musical accompaniment to the film from the silent film pianist Meg Morley.
5. Oh Dear Diary Friday 22nd April, 20:00 – 22:30 at BM&AG Gas Hall. £5/£4
Like many an angst ridden adolescent before me I kept kept a diary throughout my teenage years. In my bedroom surrounded by posters of my favourite bands at the time such as Menswear, Suede etc. I used to jot down all my dramas of the day, who my latest crush was and some pretty awful poetry. To save my future self from any embarrassment I had the foresight to burn my diaries.
Thankfully there are some brave souls out there who not only kept their diaries but have volunteered to read from them. All the diaries, scrapbooks, poetry and song lyrics read out at Oh Dear Diary are genuine.
There will also be a screening of Oliver Griffin and Neil Richardson’s Republic. As teenagers in 1991, Oliver and Neil got their hands on a Hi8 camera and documented their hometown of Blyth in Northumbria, which was recently voted the worst place in Britain. 25 years later, the results can finally be seen.
If you’re brave enough to read from your diary, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
There are a number of offers and bundles available including the Flatpass (which will give you access to pretty much everything) For more details click here.
Are you going to Flatpack Film Festival this year? Which events are you excited about? I’d love to hear what everyone is planning on going to see.