Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival returns this May Day Bank Holiday for its thirteenth edition. Flatpack 2019 boasts a wonderfully eclectic line-up, with 100 events taking place at 14 different venues across Birmingham.
With everything from car park theatre and cat-shaped bento art to Moomins and post-punk legends, this year’s festival will treat audiences to a week of inspiring screenings, exhibitions, live performances, installations and special guests.
Flatpack will welcome stand-up Stewart Lee and filmmaker Michael Cumming to offer an exclusive taste of their new documentary King Rocker, a unique tribute to the Black Country’s unsung post-punk heroes The Nightingales. Cumming will also screen his film Oxide Ghosts, sharing his personal insights into the process of making the cult TV series Brass Eye.
Other highlights will include the premiere of immersive theatre piece A Moment of Madness, in which participants are thrust into the heart of a spy thriller in a car park.
The Colour Box will return with a host of animated shorts and free drop-in activities to entertain all the family. Tokyo artist and animator Mari Miyazawa will present her Beautiful Bento workshops in the UK for the first time: turning traditional Japanese lunch boxes into fun, edible characters.
Other Colour Box highlights will include the Soundplay Dome, a unique interactive musical installation for children to explore; a preview of Sky TV’s Moominvalley, featuring the vocal talents of Richard Ayoade and Matt Berry; and a series of workshops on animating the canine film characters from Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs with stop animator Tim Allen.
Flatpack will open at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with the world premiere of Sinestro Home Video’s live rescore of Japanese classic A Page of Madness, complete with benshi narration. Other live cinema events will include Forecasting, where contemporary dance meets YouTube in Barbara Matijević’s one woman show; and internationally-renowned musicians Hannah Marshall (cello), Alcyona Mick (piano), and Stella Roberts (keyboard) will perform live scores to a selection of short films made by pioneering female directors.
This year’s feature film programme will present a wide picture of international cinema, including Peter Strickland’s offbeat horror In Fabric which follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person with devastating consequences; and Summer, an ode to the underground rock scene of pre-perestroika Leningrad, featuring an epic soundtrack from David Bowie, T-Rex and Iggy Pop.
Other feature highlights will include a celebration of 90s rave culture in Scottish coming-of-age tale Beats, followed by a 90s party in Flatpack’s Festival Hub.
Part cinema and part music gig, Optical Sound performances will offer a fascinating fusion of live performance and audio-visual artistry. Artist Natalie Sharp will present Lone Taxidermist: Bodyvice, her new multidisciplinary performance exploring chronic pain. Other highlights will include audio producer and artist Laura Irving’s new interactive installation and sensory road trip Lambda Drive; and an evening exploring film, sound and expanded performances from experimental film collective BEEF (Bristol Experimental Expanded Film).
This year’s festival programme also promises an inspiring selection of shorts from across the globe, including a reflection on human habits in Strange Birds, intimate stories reflecting the world in Something Happened, and strange phenomena in Under Your Spell. Highlights also include the UK premiere of Kids by Michael Frei, conceived as a film and a video game, and available to play in the Festival Hub.
Flatpack has always had a taste for digging into the archives, now reflected in a new strand gathering rare, unseen material and revealing the stories behind it. A day of Video Tales at MAC will showcase rediscoveries from the VHS era.
When: 30th April – 5th May 2019
Where: At venues across Birmingham, West Midlands
£: Ticket prices vary, depending on the event
More info: flatpackfestival.org.uk