Kassie and I spent Saturday going through the Flatpack programme, highlighting what we’re watching together. With so many films, workshops, events, parties and more to choose from, you really are spoilt for choice. Do have a read of the full programme, especially if you’re a Flatpack Festival first-timer.

 ’Flatpack Festival has become one of the cultural highlights of the West Midlands’ calendar year” said the Birmingham Post last week, in an interview with Flatpack founder Ian Francis.

There really is something for everyone – even if you have the strangest of tastes we’re certain there will be something to tickle your fancy (and there are also a lot of freebies too, so you can’t even use that excuse.)

We’re going to be dashing to Arts Forum Selly Oak’s Art SOAK Festival and University of Birmingham’s Arts & Science Festival throughout the Flatpack fortnight as well, so have a look through their list of events too if you’re planning to be out and about.

Thursday 21st March 2013

Safety Last, 8pm, Great Western Arcade.

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“The opening night of Flatpack has seen us visiting various churches and concert halls across the city, but this is the first time we’ve launched proceedings in a shopping arcade. Built in 1875 on top of a railway cutting between Snow Hill and Moor Street stations, the spectacular Great Western Arcade will be transforming itself into a cinema for one night only.

Our main feature includes one iconic moment which defined the film and its creator forever. Even if you’ve seen it a hundred times the clock-hanging sequence never fails to startle, but Harold Lloyd’s 1923 romantic comedy Safety Last! offers plenty of other unexpected pleasures and delights. This evening it will be accompanied by pianist John Sweeney, and before the lights go down there will be music and refreshments from some of the arcade’s wide variety of independent retailers.

Friday 22nd March 2013

Good Vibrations, 9pm, The Electric.

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“70s fashion, oodles of charm and a brilliant soundtrack. What more could you ask for on the first Friday night of this year’s Flatpack? With Good Vibrations directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn tackle the real-life tale of Terri Hooley’s efforts to run a record shop, and subsequently label, in one of the most turbulent areas of Belfast during the Troubles. The result is a marvellous production tinged with just the right amount of nostalgia and comic moments as we follow the difficult path Hooley walked to become a punk pioneer.

Saturday 23rd March 2013

Invisible Architecture, 12pm, meet at Film Bug Hub.

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“Birmingham is a city known for its stark public buildings, planning misadventures and fervent commercial revisionism. Yet it was once a nucleus of joyful architecture, rich ornamentation and inventive urbanism. Surely none of this survives today? On Invisible Architecture, local historian Ben Waddington reveals some of the city’s lesser noticed details on our buildings, down back streets and beneath our feet and asks how this magnificent world became lost.

The Passion of Joan of Arc, 6.30pm, Birmingham Cathedral.

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“This film was made in the late silent period, just before the dawn of talkies, but it feels like, as Jean Cocteau put it, ‘an historical document from an era in which the cinema didn’t exist.’ Carl Theodor Dreyer takes a familiar story – the country girl who led an army against the English, and ended up on trial for blasphemy – and gives it a piercing, elemental quality. He had a huge, complex set built, based on Rouen Castle, but we see very little of it. Instead the focus is on faces: of the accusers, fierce, suspicious, looming over the camera; and of Joan, played by Marie Falconetti in a soaring performance that seems barely a performance at all.

The director’s approach was so stripped-down that he even preferred the film to be seen without music, but we’re confident that he would have approved of tonight’s accompaniment. Pianist Paul Shallcross (last seen in these parts at our Christmas Buster Keaton show) has written a score beautifully attuned to the agony and ecstasy of Dreyer’s vision, and we’re also delighted to be screening a newly spruced-up version of the film produced for the recent Masters of Cinema blu ray release. We hope you’ll agree that this is about as good as cinema gets.

Sunday 24th March 

The Adventures of Prince Achmed4pm, Bramall Music Building, Flatpack Festival, as part of UoB’s Arts & Science Festival.

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“Created by Lotte Reiniger and a small team using scissors and card over the course of three years, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the oldest surviving animated feature film and still captivates all ages today. Freely adapted from the Tales of 1001 Nights, the quest for a magic lamp takes us across oceans and down into volcanoes, battling with dragons, demons and witches along the way.

This very special event at the University of Birmingham’s new Bramall Music Building will include a live score composed and performed by Geoff Smith. A specialist in hammered dulcimers, Smith will be using a range of rare and wonderful instruments including one which he has developed himself, the ‘Fluid Dulcimer.’

Art SOAK Festival FINALE (free events)

Write Down, Speak Up7pm, TASCOS, Hazelwell Lane, Stirchley.

Write Down Speak Up is a Birmingham based organisation that uses poetry in all forms to inspire and encourage a wide range of community groups. They have two ‘kick-ass’ poets for your delectation, Deborah Stevenson and Steve Morrison-Burke.

Stirchley Happenings present ‘Take Me High’8pm, TASCOS, Hazelwell Lane, Stirchley.

A brilliant Brummie box office favourite starring Cliff Richard. Watch as the icon speeds on a hovercraft under Spaghetti Junction, alongside delivering some memorable tunes. This will be preceded by a short ‘80s film encouraging the middle classes to move to Edgbaston.

 

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