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Via Amy for Flatpack Festival
Soon: Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival 2021
Flatpack kicks off a four-month season of events on 21st May with a full-to-bursting programme of the very best filmmaking from around the globe.
- BAFTA-award qualifying short film competition returns with over 30 UK premieres
- Feature and documentary film programme including artist portrait doc Tomorrow is Saturday about the life of Seán Hillen, the incredible animated feature Kill it and Leave This Town and long-awaited Birmingham Central Library doc Paradise Lost.
- Special events including live performance premieres, guest comedian commentators, beer and film pairings and a life modelling class
In 2020, Flatpack adapted their physical festival programme at speed in order to give us Flatpack Festival: the Home Entertainment Edition. Continuing to roll with the punches, 2021 will see the delivery of a 4-month season of events, online, outdoors, and, all being well, in Birmingham cinemas and auditoriums. The season kicks off on 21st May when Flatpack will return to our home screens for festival no.15 with a playful, thought-provoking assortment of screenings and special events, tailored for a virtual environment.
Audiences are invited to explore new ways of experiencing the festival, from short films over breakfast to film and drink pairings, joining a worldwide community connected through exceptional film.
Although Flatpack boasts an international programme, presenting work by artists and filmmakers from all over the world, Birmingham and the wider Midlands region plays an important role in the makeup of the festival. Below are some of the highlights featuring artists, filmmakers, and guests connected to the region.
The BAFTA-qualifying short film competition programme continues to be one of, if not the most distinct in the UK. Boasting over 30 UK premieres, and exploring all sorts of subjects:
- Xhosa Cole – Stationary Peaceful Protest: Having won the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year Award 2018, Birmingham born-and-bred Xhosa Cole has been making waves on the national jazz circuit, and has continued to pick up awards including Jazz FM’s Breakthrough Act of the Year last year. At the festival this year, Flatpack present Xhosa’s first foray into filmmaking with his audiovisual response to attending a BLM protest last year. The film plays in the Optical Sound Shorts programme.
- Matt Watkins – MOTHWASP UNLIVE: Also appearing in the Optical Sound Shorts programme is Birmingham-based artist Matt Watkins’ (aka BEAT 13) latest hypnotic short film, MOTHWASP UNLIVE, using liquid, light, and archive footage alongside self-recorded studio sessions by the band Mothwasp in between lockdowns.
- Taian Lu – Diverse: Birmingham City University student, Taian Lu’s abstract animation Diverse explores masculinity and androgynous psychology, and plays in the main competition, in the Animated Adventures programme.
- Screendance Shorts: OOO and The Protocol: Midlander Lauren Midwinter’s extraordinarily choreographed OOO plays in the Screendance competition programme, as to does Birmingham-based Avatâra Ayuso’s The Protocol.
- Jury Members: Two Midlanders also feature in the festival’s competition juries: Sound and music artist Justin Wiggan and Birmingham-born artist animator Jessica Ashman.
Flatpack always endeavours to create special events, and this year’s festival is no different.
- Birmingham Collage Collective: The ever-growing Birmingham Collage Collective which includes artist Mark Murphy (who will be in conversation with collage artist Seán Hillen during the festival) will be delivering a zoom masterclass in the art form.
- Screendance Competition: Joining forces with the Birmingham International Dance Festival, and independent curator and Birmingham-based filmmaker Sima Gonsai, Flatpack present two programmes of short films (several of which are UK premieres) that span both Flatpack 2021 and BIDF (which starts a few days later). The winner of the brand new Screendance Award will be announced at Flatpack’s awards ceremony on the closing weekend.
- Starship Impossible with The Brothers McLeod: West-Midlands based BAFTA winning animators The Brothers McLeod have been extremely busy over the last year with their hilarious new web series Starship Impossible. They will be presenting the series in its entirety for the first time during the festival and will also be giving a talk about their experience making it, as well as working with global media company Misfit.
- Trash Film Club – Verotika: Birmingham’s irregular Trash Film night features hosts David and Luke, with special guest Greg Sestero (who played Mark in The Room), talking the audience through the very best bits of one of the very worst films ever made: 2019’s Verotika.
- Shorts and Hops with Digbrew: Teaming up with independent brewery DigBrew, Flatpack have curated a selection of classic short films paired with some of DigBrew’s finest beverages. Enjoy a pint of the very special Waka/Jawaka (named after Frank Zappa’s fourth album) while feasting your eyes on the mind-melting work of Zappa’s collaborator Bruce Bickford.
Delving into archives through screenings and discussions:
- Mind The Gaps: Black Country award-winning artist and filmmaker Billy Dosanjh chats to Nirmal Puwar (who grew up in Coventry), Reader in Sociology, at Goldsmiths, University of London about film and TV archives and drawing out the untold stories which can fall through the gaps.
- Let Us Play: General Public (Elizabeth Rowe and Chris Poolman) have been delving into the secret history of Birmingham’s adventure playground movement, and during this event present a chance to see never-screened archive footage of the city at play.
- Adventures with Archives: Hidden Treasures: During the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns young and emerging creatives have been working with Shropshire-based MediaActive Projects’ Adventures with Archives programme, exploring new approaches to archive film exhibition. Their process has involved curating and repurposing archive footage for contemporary audiences by creating new soundtracks, new narratives, new experiences. Further information: mediaactive.org/adventures-with-archives.html
- 2 Visions 2 Legacies: Premiere of a new short film combining archives, animation and newly recorded interviews, part of a heritage project around the Jewellery Quarter’s two iconic cemeteries at Key Hill and Warstone Lane. Followed by a Q and A session with the filmmaker Scott Johnston and the project co-curators. Further information: th.jewelleryquarter.net/2visions2legacies
A couple of events from Flatpack’s features strand:
- Paradise Lost + Q and A: The world premiere of long-anticipated Paradise Lost – Andy Howlett’s documentary about architect John Madin’s controversial brutalist building, Birmingham Central Library.
- Voices of Isolation – Reflections on the Windrush Scandal: Wolverhampton-born Sonita Gale shares scenes from her near-complete feature doc Voices of Isolation which reveals the vast social and economic inequalities in our system that have been further exposed by the pandemic, focusing in particular on how it has revealed the need for reform in the way our Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are valued. She will be joined in conversation by social commentator Patrick Vernon, and Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson’s daughter Natalie Barnes.
Beyond the Festival
Beyond May, Flatpack will be busy with various summer outdoor community film screenings, their Wonderland project exploring the history of cinema-going in the city, interactive family project Colour Box at Home where audiences receive packs and zines, and an Autumn Weekender (24th and 25th September) full of actual live cinema events.
Discover more at: flatpackfestival.org.uk