After a stint online during the pandemic, the Flatpack Festival returns to Birmingham for 2022 with a full programme of in-person events. This annual arts festival brings an eclectic mix of shows, screenings and activities that surprise and delight audiences to venues across the city.
And this year’s line-up is no different. Experience a new interactive show that combines film and a rave with cult artist Tat Vision in Tattered Earth. Or find your Happy Place at the One Bum Cinema Club which offers a quick hit of comedy shorts for one person at a time. Alternatively, watch Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like It Hot with drinks that are perfectly matched by a cocktail sommelier, in a film night with a difference.
A feast of sound and vision
Flatpack Festival excels at delivering music, art and screenings in unique ways. Catch The ICHI Anime Show with Japanese one-man-band ICHI. Brand new scores are performed to a series of seminal Japanese anime shorts from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
Belgium band Frankie’s Laguna Beach is an interaction between live music and mechanically-powered installations. They create a scene where shrill guitars, noise, screeching, worn-out puppets, fishing line and wood play the leading parts. Ranging from utter failure to tropical idyll, the cheerful naivety of Laguna Beach is always disarming. Following on from these performances, the festival’s Saturday night knees-up takes on a beach party vibe.
Elsewhere, Netherlands-based visual artist Lichun Tseng teams up with sound artist Robert Kroos for a unique AV performance. Ebb & Flow uses five, 16mm projectors. Layering, constructing, and deconstructing visual and auditory textures, they strive for a sense-transcending experience where the spectator is no longer consciously watching nor listening.
Witness Austrian artist Jörg Piringer’s audio-visual voice performance, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz. Image and sound are created in real-time through custom written software that analyses and captures the sound of his voice to create animated, abstract visual text and sound compositions.
And there’s a chance to hear the world premiere of Flatpack’s specially commissioned score. Instrumental ‘dream-pop-post-folk-neo-everything’ band Haiku Salut and jazz pianist Meg Morley perform to Billy Wilder’s penned silent classic People on Sunday (1930).
Chemistry and coding
That’s not the only new stuff to discover at the festival either. A brand new collaboration supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry, brings together visual artist Laura Spark, Dr Zoe Schnepp, a chemist from the University of Birmingham, and musician Jon Hering. Together they’ll create the live audio-visual interactive experience The Art of the Matter, using live chemical reactions.
Slovenian interdisciplinary artist and creative coder, Tadej Droljc, will perform his unique electronic music, and computer-generated audio-visual compositions. Don’t miss Capillaries Capillaries and Singing Sand.
Overlap is an altogether different type of social night. This show-and-tell highlights the very best in Midlands’ made animation. And for dance and film fans, there’s an afternoon of Screendance Shorts. This includes the competition programme in partnership with Birmingham International Dance Festival.
The BFI Network Screening showcases the best emerging filmmakers from the region who have all found support from BFI Network. For this event, shorts are introduced by the filmmakers themselves. And designed for those with complex disabilities, touch screen makes short films more accessible by augmenting them and turning them into interactive sensory installations.
The Short Film Competition shows more than 40 films from all around the world. It has the usual dose of absurd humour and outstanding animation in all shapes and sizes. And the festival wraps up with an Awards Ceremony to celebrate the film creations. Unlike stuffy red carpet dos, everyone’s welcome to drop by this event.
Wonderlands, kung fu nights and curiosities
Other special events include Joe Lycett’s Curiosities with Shaun Keaveny. Joe and Shaun chat about Joe’s forays into filmmaking while showing his short films and talking about what’s inspired him.
Want more? Then don’t miss the Wonderland exhibition running alongside the festival. It explores how cinema has shaped the streets, social lives and dreams of Brummies over the past 125 years. It’s presented by Flatpack Projects and Birmingham 2022 Festival in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Associated events include a walking tour exploring key cinema sites in Birmingham city centre. And a conversation with DJ and entrepreneur Cecil Morris about the legendary blaxploitation and kung fu nights he hosted in the 70s and 80s. Plus, there’s a Wonderland Pecha Kucha evening at the festival hub where a range of guests will share their cinema stories.
Looking for more quirky festivals to attend this year? Take a trip over to this page!
When: 17th – 22nd May 2022
Where: At venues across Birmingham
£: Ticket prices vary, depending on the event. Some events are free
More info: flatpackfestival.org.uk/flatpack-2022