BPREVIEW: Flatpack Film Festival 2018 @ various venues across Birmingham from 13-22.04.18

Words by Ashleigh Goodwin

Despite the slight frustration of it being April already, the start of spring brings with it a myriad of cultural, musical and recreational events within the second city. But kicking off this fruitful month, Flatpack return for their 12thannual film festival – running from Friday 13th April to Sunday 22nd April 2018.

Tickets and venues vary across the Flatpack Film Festival 2018 programme, but for direct information on all screenings and events, click here.

With over a hundred events on offer, Flatpack Festival 2018 is definitely not to be overlooked – not that you could if you tried (and why would you ever want to?) as the nine-day festival spans across the city centre, Digbeth and wider Birmingham. Flatpack Festival 2018 comprises of ‘films, performances, contraptions and surprises’, whilst being described as ‘magnificently eclectic, and joyously inventive’. With an impressive reputation to uphold, Flatpack does not disappoint with this year’s festival, providing an eclectic roster of carefully curated content.

It would be near impossible to cover each aspect of the programme in detail (no matter how tempting), so here are our cited highlights of Flatpack Film Festival 2018.

Over the festival’s opening weekend (Friday 13th– Sunday 15th April) Flatpack presents Birmingham 68 – an eye-opening reflection of the turbulent and culturally fertile year of 1968, in a city-straddling programme that will take you from Digbeth bikers to Erdington psychedelia, from black masses in Solihull to the lost streets of Balsall Heath’ and featuring a range of special guests for ‘walks, talks and screenings tapping into a range of subjects that still resonate today’.

Birmingham 68 was launched prior to Flatpack Film Festival 2018 festival with the free entry photography exhibition Ghost Streets of Balsall Heath by Janet Mendelsohn, which is on display at the Ort Gallery until Saturday 28th April.

Birmingham 68 encompasses sixty-eight exhibitions over the next couple of weeks, including film screenings such as Lindsay Anderson’s if… with a Q&A from Chris Menges at The Electric, and a double-bill of 1960’s unease, media and paranoia in David Holzman’s Diary and The Secret Cinema at The Mockingbird.

Birmingham 68 presents a further multitude of exhibitions, such as Richard P Rogers’s Frank Cook and the Birmingham Scene – which showcases a panorama of Birmingham at a time of disorientation and change, alongside discussions from Ernie Hudson & Bob Linney – two integral faces behind the screen-printed posters of the Birmingham Arts Lab.

There is also a discourse around Carlton Ballroom’s launch as a rock club in Mothers, that brings together former punters and performers in an ‘attempt to piece together what went on in this UV-lit monochrome den’, as well as a series of city walks such as Early Worm which ‘reconstructs art collective Worm’s tale of teenage pranks, mods, beatniks and the influence of William Burroughs’. For a full programme of all the Birmingham 68 events, visit www.2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/strand/birmingham-68

As part of their impressive roster of thirteen Special Events including performances, parties and a quiz, the festival organisers have named The Paper Cinema’s reimagination of Macbeth as a particular highlight. This runs from Thursday 19th April to Saturday 21st April at various times in the Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre venue – accessible through the main theatre on Hurst Street, with tickets priced between £10-14.

After their critically acclaimed success with Odyssey, The Paper Cinema returns to combine distinctive live animation with elements of projection, music and puppetry, bringing this silent, two-dimensional world to life with charm, wit and invention. This adaptation of Macbeth further translates as a ‘cautionary tale for our times’ and was acclaimed upon its Edinburgh debut last summer. Flatpack Film Festival 2018 provides audiences with one of the first opportunities to catch this widely popular, compelling attraction as it goes out on the roadFor more information on the rest of the festivals special events, visit www.2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/strand/special-events

Another beauty of Flatpack Film Festival 2018 is the inclusivity of the event; their colossal programme spans all mediums, requirements and preferences, and this is reflected in the weekend long Colour Box running from Saturday 21st April-Sunday 22nd April at various times in both the Birmingham Hippodrome and mac.

Colour Box unleashes an immersive combination of family-friendly activities and events with the intention of inspiring the next generation of film makers through a ‘doing as much as on viewing’ approach. Colour Box is comprised of workshops, special screenings and performances’ including VR: Rain or Shine, Moonmin Puppets, DIY Cinema and Fantastic Voyages – a selection of short films for ages 7+ that explore characters leaving the comfort of home for the first time to explore the world.

Colour Box is also screening the ‘best family shorts and features from around the world’ combining coveted, breakthrough pieces such as Horus, Prince of the Sun – showing on Sunday 22nd April, from 16:00-17:30 at mac Birmingham. A landmark anime that is both essential to the history of animation and the first collaboration between Studio Ghibli founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, interweaving a coming of age narrative with sub-plots of environmentalism and community.

There is also newer material from Japan’s Studio Ponoc, such as the fantastical fable Mary and the Witch’s Flower – showing on Sunday 22nd April, from 11:00-12:45 again at mac. Tickets for both respectively start at £4 and can be brought directly through the Flatpack website. For more information on Colour Box, visit www.2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/strand/colour-box

Whilst Flatpack Film Festival 2018 showcases the richness of film as a medium and its all-encompassing elements, it would be easy to forget to actually see a feature film amongst all the workshops, walks and talks. However, ensure time is made for this as the festival’s Features section – primarily based at The Electric and The Mockingbird – which boasts some cherry-picked recent releases from across the world.

Similarly, Flatpack Film Festival 2018 offers a range of documentaries that are stranger than fiction’ by explaining that ‘the world is currently offering an inexhaustible supply of great stories, so why bother making them up?’ Whether this is exploring the streets of France with Agnes Varda and her partner in crime, JR, in Faces Places, following a multinational team of scientists striving to create a nuclear fusion project that could revolutionise the future of clean energy in Let There Be Light, or watching the sobering journey of migrant workers building a tower block in Beirut against the current Syrian climate and civil war in The Taste of Cement.

With these documentaries, Flatpack Film Festival 2018 presents the heart-warming, reflective, and often astounding facets of the world – screened at The Electric, The Mockingbird and Centrala throughout the festival, with tickets starting from £8.

Alongside the programme of feature films and documentaries, a round-up of Flatpack Film Festival 2018 cannot be written without mentioning the Shorts section of the event – a programme that sits at the very core of what Flatpack does and is aptly described as their ‘first love’. This is why the handpicked selection of short films at this year’s festival ‘are an end in themselves, overflowing with great ideas and indelible images’ and span a host of genres including drama, sci-fi, animation, documentaries and  experimental, with each event encompassing central themes and topics different to the next. For the full selection of the twelve shorts at Flatpack Film Festival 2018, visit www.2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/strand/shorts

Unsurprisingly, this does not even scratch the surface of the plethora of events and screenings, with strands such as Optical Sound and Unpacked also to look forward to at Flatpack Film Festival 2018running at venues across the city from 13th to 22nd April.

For direct information on the entire programe at Flatpack Film Festival 2018, including venue and ticket details, visit the festival’s official website at www.2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk