N̶e̶t̶f̶l̶i̶x̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶C̶h̶i̶l̶l̶ Flatpack and Kickback

N̶e̶t̶f̶l̶i̶x̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶C̶h̶i̶l̶l̶ Flatpack and Kickback

Brum's foremost film fest returns

Now 15 years strong, 2021’s Flatpack Festival (Brum's annual celebration of all things filmy) is entirely available online, on your own screens and accessible from wherever you can get a signal. As we’ve come to expect, it’s innovative, inspirational and in some places, beautifully Birmingham-centric; all of which makes it the second-best reason to stay at home that we’ve had in the last year. So, give your mate their Netflix password back and cancel your Amazon Prime free trial, because Flatpack has got you for ten days straight. Here are our picks of the flicks.

Paradise Lost + Q&A Live – 24 May (£4)
Filmmaker and flâneur Andy Howlett explores (both physically and metaphorically) the ruins of John Madin’s Central Library complex, considered the last bastion of Brutalism in Brum. The collective thought process behind demolishing the well-loved, and in some circles, loathed landmark is steeped in controversy, serving to dismiss the past’s vision of B-town’s future through concrete cleansing. Howlett does a deep dive into the reasons behind the culling and rewriting of history. It’s like big Phil C once sang; “Whoa! Think twice…”. World premiere, no less. Tickets

Shorts & Hops with DigBrew Live May 29 (£14)
Beer and films make fine bedfellows. DigBrew and Flatpack know this all too well, so are sending a carefully-curated selection of beers to your door and a flurry of short films straight to your screen. From the full film line up, Bruce Bickford’s twisted, trippy claymation work is set to feature and is the stuff of Tony Hart and Morph’s nightmares. Add to that the Buffet Island Milkshake IPA and it’s enough to bring us all to the yard. Tickets

Deepfake Theory – From May 21 (Short Film Pass and Flatpass only)
Deepfake tech does online facelifts better than most Hollywood blockbusters. But aside from the Face Swap vids there are more potentially spiritual applications to Deepfake and this mid-length film by Roshan Nejal explores its use in dealing with grief and loss. Although it sounds a tad too close to a Black Mirror ep, the UK premiere of Deepfake Theory has the potential to leave real tears running down your actual face. Tickets

3am Headf**k – From May 21 (Short Film Pass and Flatpass only)
As the ever-so subtle title suggests, this psychedelic selection of short films is especially curated for the night owls among us. Whether that means those who are coming back home after a big night “out out” or those who are simply unable to get some shut eye, 3am Headf**k guarantees to sooth your senses with tumbling kaleidoscopic abstract imagery, swirling soundtracks and hallucinogenic visuals, all of which should ease you into a restful, if not slightly trippy, slumber. Late-night shopping channel, this is not. Tickets

Trash Film Club and Greg Sestero vs. Verotika — May 22 (£4)
Great films are, like, so 2020. Bad films are where it’s at in ’21. So step up, Glenn Danzig’s Verotika with its low-budget blend of violence and erotica (oh, now the title makes sense). As they do, Trash Film Club takes the film to task, layering their live commentary takedown over the top of the B-Movie belter. This time, they’ve recruited the help of none other than The Disaster Artist author and The Room star Greg Sestero and together, these guys know their trash. Tickets

Let Us Play — May 27 (Free)
This had me at the mention of ‘ghost playgrounds’. It’s nothing to do with Patrick Swayze and a potter’s wheel, and everything to do with play areas built out of unwanted wood, surplus building materials and any other junk that would do the job. Inner-city wastelands became home to these play areas, with the community and it’s kids building them from the ground up. Featuring archive footage and first-person interviews, it examines the effect these most adventurous of yards had on the city’s youth. Tickets

Gunda – From May 29 (£4)
Mesmeric, immersive and soothing, Victor Kossakowsky’s feature-length documentary slows life down a fraction to a farmyard pace and follows a mommy pig, her little piglets and a hopping, one-legged chicken. No, you’re going soft. This is escapist entertainment at its purest and surely the cure for whatever ails you. With its crisp monochrome and intimate ambient sound, Gunda is pitched as piggy ASMR. Like Babe, the hog softly oinking sweet nothings into your ear. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. Tickets

Life Drawing at the Starkers Academy – May 27 (Free)
If, like me, COVID calories have ruled out any chance of you being on the brave end of a life drawing sesh, all is not lost. Starkers Academy sets out to show the ins and outs of sketching someone in the nude, empowering both model and artist. This video is well worth a watch. To get you warmed up the award-winning Nude Triumphant will be screened beforehand as inspiration, too. Bring a pencil, some paper, and they'll do the rest. Tickets

Colour Box, May 22 – 31 (Free to £5)
An event for everyone rather than just for the little ‘uns. The animation styles range from the Ghibli-esque to mixed media and subjects include our obsession with screen time, the sweet moves of an insect dance troupe, and an incredibly aggy Octopus. One event — Touchscreen — includes some of the best Colour Box shorts from over the years and a box will be delivered to your door with different objects that allow you to experience the films through touch, taste and smell. More

7 Sounds – From May 22 (Free, donations welcome)
Sound, mate. The cool kids are into ASMR artists like Billie Eilish, while The Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed’s hearing-impairment drama, is many folk’s film of the year. With even loftier ambitions, 7 Sounds blends audio recordings that attempt to alter how we audibly perceive time, physical borders and our world in general. Oscar-winning documentarian Sam Green also sets out to uncover why some sounds reduce you to tears whilst some give you goosebumps. May or may not feature Fix You by Coldplay*. (*Spoken to the Flatpack team. Confirmed: No Coldplay) Tickets

The full programme for Flatpack is here.

Words: Robb Sheppard