She’s all grown up! B-Town’s very own Flatpack Festival turns sweet sixteen this May. But in typical Flatpack fashion, they’re not doing the usual, such as applying for a moped licence or learning their National Insurance number off by heart. Instead, they are once again bringing a vertiginous variety of cinema, audio visuals and in-person performances to venues all across Brum, May 17 to 22. With this year’s new comedy strand mixing in the laughs with the luscious imagery (see Anna Vasoff's Amazon Woman, above), how do you know which event to go and see? Enter: I Choose... with our pick of the ‘pack.
Joe Lycett's Curiosities with Shaun Keaveny — May 17
Taking a break from winding the government up with fake Sue Gray reports and taking the Oil Giants to task, Brummie Mummy Joe Lycett showcases his first foray into filmmaking. And yes, of course it was made right here in Brum. As well as sharing the short films that inspired him to finally get behind the camera, he’ll also be grilled by 6Music alumnus and bezzie mate, Shaun W Keaveny, who’ll no doubt want to know the Five Ws: What, Why, When, Who and err, How. Tickets
The ICHI Anime Show — May 19
In our day, if you’d have said ‘one-man band’, you’d expect a drum on the back, cymbals between the knees and a harmonica in the gob. Thankfully, we’ve moved on a bit and The ICHI Anime Show features one-man musical scores performed on self-made and modified instruments... one which may or may not be a Sony Discman-onica. For that extra layer of intrigue, the live score is also set to seminal Japanese anime shorts of the 60s, 70s and 80s. One man, one band, five stars. Tickets
Frankie's Laguna Beach — May 21
Punk rock puppet show. If those four words haven’t grabbed you already, how about throwing in a beach party afterwards? Belgian band, Frankie, brings raucous live music together with filmed scenes that flit between the funny and the freaky. The live performance forms a scene with the surrounding DIY structure, which is made up of old-school TVs, makeshift ladders and a model boat being rowed with more than one cox. I went down an internet rabbit hole researching this one. Tickets
People on Sunday, Haiku Salut/Meg Morley — May 22
If you’ve heard of indie docu-rockers, Public Service Broadcasting, you’ll have no doubt come across their collaborators, Haiku Salut. A little bit synthy, a little bit ambient and big on experimentation, they’re an interesting musical outing in their own right. But they promise something special when paired up with Australian jazz pianist, composer and improvisor Meg Morley. Together, they’ll be performing the world premiere of their score to Billy Wilder’s classic silent film, People on Sunday (1930, pictured). The score was specially commissioned by Flatpack, no less. Tickets
Tattered Earth — May 20
Papier-mâché mogul, felt tip tyrant and Brummie cult artist, Tat Vision, mixes things right up by blending film with a real life rave in an interactive amalgamation of ideas that The Mighty Boosh might have rejected for being too 'out there'. With the audience fully integrated into the fabric of the show, you might not be invited up on stage, or even get a podium to yourself, but it’s probably time to dust off your big fish, your little fish and maybe even your cardboard box. Tickets
Flatpack's Optical Sound makes us feel like we’ve been flung far into the future. Audiovisual voice performance from Austrian artist, Jörg Piringer, and Googling nightmare 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz' could be a festival show-stealer. Image and sound are created in real-time through custom written software that analyses and captures the sound of Jörg's voice to create animated, abstract, visual text and sound compositions. Sounds mad, will be mad. Get it in ya. Tickets
Alistair Green — May 20
The Insta comedian went from strength to strength during the old Locky-D and now the ‘front-facing camera comic’ swaps the phone screen for a live set, followed by an in-person Q&A. It’s much like an Instagram story but in real life, so you can actually reach out and touch him*. Previously, he’s live-narrated the Fifty Shades of Grey series to his nan and sent up Middle England — so expect laughs and too-close-for-comfort chuckles. *I've just been advised: patrons should refrain from touching Mr Green. Tickets
Some Like It Hot with cocktails — May 21
Widely considered one of the best comedies ever made, Some Like it Hot is an irresistible classic from director Billy Wilder, featuring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as two hapless musicians on the run after witnessing a Mafia hit. Yikes! How do they get out of this one? By disguising themselves as women in an all-female jazz band, of course. The magic begins when it soon becomes clear that the pair have bitten off more than they can chew. Expect laughs, sizzling dialogue and Marilyn on the ukulele. Tickets are £30 per person, which includes three specially crafted cocktails provided by the wonderful Wine Events Company. Tickets
Wonderland — May 19
Wonderland is the expo that examines how Brummies’ lives have been changed by cinema over the past 125 years. Flatpack Projects and Birmingham 2022 Festival are presenting the exhibition back in the newly-opened Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, as if you needed an excuse to pile back in there, come April. There are also plenty of accompanying events to boot. Us? We’re up for the Wonderland Pecha Kucha. That gives you 20 pictures and 20 seconds each to tell your cinema story. Go. Tickets
Luisa Omielan/Sister Act 2 — May 19
Brummie comedian, Luisa Omeilan, introduces one of her all time fave funny films with Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, a positively sprightly-looking Maggie Smith and Lauryn Hill, it’s got nuns swinging from wires, entendres without the need for the double and Whoopi simply being Whoopi. But why has Omielan chosen this Catholic comedy caper over the original (and in our opinion, far Superior) Sister Act? Who knows. But we reckon there’s a story there. Haha. “Habit.” Only just got that. Tickets
BAFTA-qualifying shorts programme — May 18 to 22
Much like yours truly, this shorts programme flits from existential one minute to hysterical the next. The hypnotic Menagerie (pictured) is a study of repetitive human behaviours that, although mundane, get more rewarding the more times it loops around. No? Then look, here’s Sierra, a surreal slice of animation that sees a boy transform into a tyre to win a car race. Throw in a space graveyard, paddling to Hong Kong and a tennis ball on its day off, and every mood is catered for in film form. Tickets
The full programme for Flatpack is here.
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