Flatpack Preview pt 1

Okay, here’s part one of my planned schedule for the Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham’s celebration of the slightly odd aspects of the moving image. This isn’t necessarily a recommendation as I’m going in blind to most of these. That’s they way I like festivals – they’re about discovery, not seeing the same old stuff. The programme is remarkably full for a four day event so you might find this filter useful. Or not.

Thursday is easy. There’s the opening film, The Seashell And The Clergyman with live musical accompaniment from Minima, at St Paul’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter at 7pm. I previewed it here and if you like the idea of watching a mildly disturbing 1920s silent surrealist film in a church then you’ll be there.

After the film is the Opening Do at the Actress and Bishop from 8pm to midnight with previews of the rest of the festival and music from the intriguing mr_hopkin’s computer and the Zoom Quartet who “create live improvised soundtracks which they perform to projected video”.

Friday is where it starts getting a little mad. First port of call at around 12pm will be 22 Green Street in Digbeth (map) for the Harrachov Exchange and Jinpow, um, exhibits, I guess. Lots of mixed-media sculpture type stuff that should be a bit odd. Both are free, and also on Sunday.

From 2pm you’ll find me in the back of St Martins Church by the Bullring for a showing of Carnivorous Syndrome in 3-D, a 22 minute short by Mike Wilder. It’s “a 20-minute piece which pays homage to old-school educational movies with a mixture of documentary, computer graphics and lo-fi ingenuity. The film features dazzling time-lapse footage of a range of weird and wonderful plants captured with an ordinary digital stills camera which Wilder mounted on a Lego rig named ‘Jasper’.” Best viewed with 3D glasses apparently. Again, this is free.

Then it’s up to the Island Bar on Suffolk Street at 3pm for some shorts, animation and music videos, not to mention a drink.

Then there’s an hour or so to grab some food before Underwater Music from 5-8pm with the films of Jean Painleve, a precursor to Jaques Cousteau who produced a gamut of films about the sea from the 1930s to 1950s. A selection will be shown along with musical interludes. This is also at the Island Bar where all events are free.

As we get into the evening the not-free events start to pile up. I’m going to have to be careful on the wallet but the no-brainer is Hocus Focus at The Electric (9pm, £10). Like all intriguing things it’s a little hard to describe before experiencing it so here’s the blurb:

Back in 1995 Andy Votel was knocked sideways by a latenight screening of obscure Czech fantasy Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders, the tale of a girl whose first period heralds a sequence of strange and inexplicable goings-on. In the years since he has made his name as a label-boss, DJ, designer, musician and tireless vinyl archivist, and for most of that time he has been trying to track down the original masters of the Valerie soundtrack – a heady orchestral folk concoction by Lubos Fischer. Finally Andy released the full score on Finders Keepers late last year, and to mark this occasion he will be bringing a merry band of musical cohorts to the Electric for one night only…

Manchester’s Voice of the Seven Woods, aka Rick Tomlinson, spent 2006 hoovering up new fans all over the place with his beguiling use of guitar, sitar, oud and saz. Hocus Focus will see a rare outing for his rescore/re-edit of Armenian classic The Colour of Pomegranates. Broadcast’s latest album on Warp, Tender Buttons, got widespread thumbs-up as one of their best yet. The band have cited Valerie as a huge influence on their work (they even named a track after it), and tonight they’ll be wrestling over the decks with Messrs Votel and Thomas to play some appropriately otherworldly tunes. Then there’s the film itself, full of jaw-dropping imagery and weird erotic undercurrents.

Other feature length films that caught my eye on Friday are Ten Canoes – an intriguingly refreshing look at the Aboriginal traditions of Australia’s Northern Territories (6pm, MAC, £4.50), Shut Up and Sing – the documentary about the Dixie Chicks vs Bush’s America (6.30pm, Odeon, £5.40) and Rock The Bells – another doc about the audacious and potentially disastrous attempt to get the whole Wu Tang Clan on stage one last time. (10pm, Odeon, £5.40).

And there’s more. The Electric is pretty much running festival films all day and night with the Odeon and MAC pulling their weight. Check the full schedule to see what grabs your interest.

Tomorrow I’ll be covering what’s on Saturday and Sunday.