Birmingham’s brilliant Flatpack Film Festival returns for an eighth year for 11 days of inventive film delights, from 20 to 30 March. As always, expect a mind-stretching mix of new features, shorts and special guests, as well as avant-garde Austrian animation, a solipsistic installation, a Victorian magic lantern show, a psychedelic music night, walking tours and pop-up screenings in unexpected venues across the city.
Among the highlights:
• PHONO-CINEMA-THEATRE, the first UK screening of short films, many of them in hand-tinted colour, which were made for the 1900 Paris Exposition and featured theatre and variety stars of the day. The films include Sarah Bernhardt’s Hamlet and a can-can by Gabrielle Réjane; many of them have original sound thanks to an ingenious gramophone system.
• The UK premiere of THE GREAT FLOOD, a portrait of the devastation caused by the Mississippi floods of 1927 presented by experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison. Also screening are Morrison’s poetic take on archive footage of Durham miners’ lives from the 1900s to the 1970s THE MINERS’ HYMNS and his ode to cinematic decay DECASIA (we have an article on Decasia in our book, The End: An Electric Sheep Anthology, available from Strange Attractor Press).
• CAFÉ NEURO: a weekend of talks, screenings and activities that will exploit recent developments in brain-imaging and eye-tracking technology to explore what cinema does to our brains.
• JAPANIMATION: a retrospective of Japan’s offbeat DVD label Calf including work by Mirai Mizue, Tochka Collective and Atsushi Wada.
• DVD BANG, a Korean-inspired viewing lounge, where you can book in to watch a movie day or night.
Feature films include an immersive, semi-horizontal screening of Douglas Trumbull’s 70s eco-sci-fi movie SILENT RUNNING, electrifying Kathleen Hanna documentary that will make you happy to be alive THE PUNK SINGER, Haskell Wexler’s counter-culture classic MEDIUM COOL, fascinating, thoughtful UFO doc about disinformation and the creation of truth MIRAGE MEN, Ken Russell’s mind-bending ALTERED STATES, sensuous neo-giallo THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS, Krzysztof Zanussi’s 1970s exploration of the mind ILLUMINATION, F.W. Murnau’s classic silent horror NOSFERATU, part faux doc on East German 80s skate subculture THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA and Eiichi Yamamoto’s amazing-sounding psychedelic animé BELLADONNA OF SADNESS, based on a French novel about medieval witchcraft.