From 4th to 9th April, Flatpack 11, the 2017 edition of the annual Birmingham-based film festival will be showcasing some of the best animations, documentaries, short films and experimental cinema from all over the world
Through their humble beginnings as ‘7 Inch Cinema’, the mixed-media film night in Digbeth, has gone from strength to strength becoming one of the cultural powerhouses of the West Midlands. With more than 120 events in over 20 venues, Flatpack features a wide array of films from Oscar-nominated talent to local newcomers.
The festival’s new scheme, ‘Flatmates’, is an annual subscription designed to give people the best opportunities to experience all the festival has to offer, as well as other exclusive events held throughout the year.
I was invited to the first Flatmates taster event that gave an overview of what the eleventh Flatpack festival had to offer.
Saturday 8th April is ‘Gongoozling Day’ at Flatpack, which celebrates Birmingham’s prestigious waterways. The evening kicked off with a preview of ‘Take Me High’ (D. Askey, 1974), an ode to the city itself, featuring an ever-questionable performance from the one and only Cliff Richard. While the film itself may not hold well under scrutiny, it promises to provide a nostalgic look to 1970s Birmingham.
In keeping with the ‘kooky’ theme, the animated shots ‘Bloop’s Birthday’ (Julian Glander, 2017) and ‘Analysis Paralysis’ (Anete Melece, 2016) tantalised viewers with surrealist, and yet, somehow, thought-provoking themes of love and friendship. Each were screened as part of larger collection of short films during the festival, and fans of quirky, cheeky humour did well not to miss out on the ‘Off the Beaten Track’ screening at The Electric on Friday 7 th April.
For those who prefer something more macabre, Flatpack have a treasure-trove of David Lynch themed material, including a documentary on the man himself, ‘The Art of Life’ (Jon Nguen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Rick Barnes, 2017) and a screening of ‘Eraserhead’, featuring a haunting live performance of the score by French band. ‘Cercueil’.
However, my special mention has to go to ‘Fish Story’, by the wonderfully endearing director Charlie Lyne. This short film focuses on an anecdote passed on from his great-grandmother, through which Lyne provides us with warm humour and heartfelt sentimentality with a classic visual flair. It was screened as part of the ‘Ordinary Heroes’ collection at The Victoria on the 8th April.
The diverse range of films on offer at Flatpack continues to grow each year, not just in variety, but in prowess. Audiences can expect to be blown away by the creativity, originality and sheer spirit of the films shown at this year’s festival, and future festivals to come.
For more information head over to Flatpack’s website http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/