Flatpack's Back ALRIGHT!

Oh mah gahd they're back again...

For their first-ever autumn edition, the always thought-provoking, ever eclectic Flatpack Festival is coming back to B-Town. Taking over indie cinemas, art spaces and glorious gardens, big-screen blockbusters this ain't. Instead, we’re being treated to offbeat short films, audio-visual art experiences and “don’t-you-know” documentaries, all generously seasoned with little bits of Birmingham here and there as well as some stories you’ll want to share. We’ve got a list of our fave flicks for all you Choosers. So without further ado, let’s get unpacking.

Paradise Lost + Q&A Live – 26 September (£10)
Sat at the centre of the battle over Brutalism, the destruction of Birmingham’s Central Library in 2013 remains a sore point amongst architectural acolytes and fervent futurists. Paradise Lost unravels the story behind those who were pleased to see the building levelled and those wanting a return to paradise. A hit in Flatpack’s online spring programme, it’s now making its debut on the big screen, complete with live Q&A from documentarian Andy Howlett. An esteemed online publication once gave away badges of said Central Library complex. Handsome fools. Tickets

Here For Life – 24 September

Reflecting the working backgrounds of directors Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Adrian Jackson, Here For Life flits between film and theatre, meaning this is oh so much more than your average documentary. The outdoor screening takes place in and amongst Martineau Gardens, a therapeutic community space and a fitting backdrop to onscreen events, which see a group of wayward Londoners find friendship and camaraderie in a community garden of their own. Audiences will also be treated to a spoken word poetry performance from "Unkle Errol" Errol Glashan (who also stars). Tickets

Dreamerfly, and Other Stories – 24 September (£5)
A great philosopher once said; “Dreams can come true, look at me babe, I’m with you.” Some 2,000 years previously, lesser thinker Zhuang Zhou deliberated whether he was a man dreaming of being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming of being Zhuang Zhou. This inspired Dreamerfly. Co-produced and directed by China-born, Birmingham-based artist Shiyi Li and Gloria Yehilevsky and James Owston of Sounding Eye Collective, this is an immersive video installation (think Van Gogh Alive) and 45-minute live performance that blends digital animation and analogue video. Tickets

Optical Sound: Live – 23 September (£10)
High concept in execution and theme, this audio-visual event is optically invigorating, aurally arresting and it might just move you too. Comprised of three performances, Optical Sound: Live comes to Centrala and features Zach Walker’s cymatic concoctions (think of the rippling water cup in Jurassic Park) as well as Paul Prudence, who cinematically conjures both the physical and conceptual exploration of space. Finally, Tarik Barri and Lea Fabricant improvise an investigation into light and sound. The former has previously collaborated with some up-and-coming band called ‘Radiohead’. Never heard of ‘em. Tickets

On-Gaku: Our Sound – 25 September (£10)
“We should start a band.” This one sentence can make you feel like you can change the world, even if only for a second. Whereas we tend to forget about 'Top-Z Tur-V' (we coulda been huge in Japan) once the ale has worn off, On-Gaku: Our Sound follows a trio who first pick up their instruments, only to quickly find themselves headlining a festival. Focusing on identity, friendship and (small scale) fame, this stirring anime is made up of over 40,000 hand-drawn keyframes and made us a little emosh just from the trailer. “It should’ve been us!”. Tickets

Sidewalk Stories + Live Score – 25 September (£12)
Filmed without sound or colour, Charles Lane directs and stars in this remake of Charlie Chaplin classic, The Kid. Heartfelt, hilarious and with a moving father/daughter dynamic at its core, Sidewalk Stories remains rarely seen, highly underrated and New Black Cinema at its best. Making this even more of a must-see, the silence will also be accompanied by a Live score from an 8-piece combo (so not silent), put together by Xhosa Cole. Who he? The Handsworth native who was the BBC’s Young Jazz Musician of the Year in 2018️‍. Tickets

Colour Box: Hot Dogs and Jumping Frogs – 25 September (£5)
“Albuquerque.” Just had to get that out of the way. If you ask anyone who's previously been to Flatpack what their favourite event is, Colour Box is usually right up there. The variety of the short films being shown means that the 'something for everyone' cliche can be used without fear of reprisal. As for what’s actually showing? Other than frogs and hot dogs, you’ll just have to go and see, as the surprise is half of the fun. Also, we don’t actually know. Tickets

Colour Box: Flatpack-Fizzle Reanimated – 25 September (£5)
If you've ever been to a sensory cinema performance, you’ll know that being wafted with warm air and sprayed with stale water is not the one. Luckily, live score performances is where it’s at instead. Flatpack-Fizzle Reanimated sees musical marvels - such as Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Tom Pountney - duet with short films from animators, sculptors and artists such as the late, Oscar-nominated Ryan Larkin. The pairing of these remarkable-in-their-own-right films with these vibrant young musicians means this is well worth a look and a listen. Sho’ Fizzle. Tickets

Colour Box at Home: Sound & Music – 18 & 19 September (£0-£4)
There are some good things that have come out of the pandemic. Admittedly, we’re struggling to think of many, but Colour Box at Home: Sound & Music is a dead cert. All completely do-able from the comfort of your own home, there are all sorts of activities to help you get crafty with your kids or simply the young at heart amongst you. There are a whole host of artists lined up to guide you through making your own sound effects and make-at-home instruments. During lockdown this kept a four-year-old and an eight-year-old mesmerised in equal measure. Apologies to the neighbours. Tickets

The full programme for Flatpack is here. Words: RS