Flatpack Festival celebrates Birmingham

Film festival celebrates Laurel & Hardy’s Brummie screen-mate, Digbeth B-movie and one of Birmingham’s unsung musical heroes.

Flatpack FestivalOne of the most eagerly-awaited and distinctive events in the film calendar, Flatpack Festival returns to Birmingham from 14-18 March 2012. As well as bringing the second city a jam-packed programme of cinematic delights, it will celebrate Birmingham with events and film screenings with strong links to the city.

Every year, Flatpack chooses as patron saint, a little-known person from Birmingham that has changed the world of film. The sixth festival’s patron saint is Charlie Hall. Born in Ward End, he was a vital cog in the comedy machine of Laurel and Hardy. He appeared in more Laurel & Hardy films than anyone else (apart from the boys themselves). Flatpack will be celebrating him with screenings across the city.

The festival opens with Another Fine Mess, a selection of silent film classics chosen by acclaimed pianist and composer Neil Brand (BBC Radio 4’s The Film Programme, Paul Merton’s Silent Clowns). The night will feature early Laurel and Hardy comedies featuring Hall alongside some lesser known but equally entertaining shorts.

Laurel & Hardy shorts will also be screened at the Bartons Arms.  At the height of their fame and when their careers had begun to wane, Laurel & Hardy performed at the Aston Hippodrome (now the Drum). It was next door at Bartons Arms where they and many other performers of the time bedded down for the night. The event will also feature a talk from John Ullah, Grand Sheik of the Sons of the Desert’s (otherwise known as The International Laurel & Hardy Appreciation Society) Birmingham ‘tent’, author of a new book on Charlie Hall.

Other events featuring and celebrating Birmingham:

I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle – Birmingham’s contribution to the B-movie genre. Filmed partly in Digbeth and starring Neil Morrissey, it is the grisly tale of a cursed Norton motorcycle. The screening will also welcome the director and writers of the film.

Misspent Youth – A range of people have been asked to nominate their favourite film to be screened at this year’s festival. Comedian and writer Adil Ray (whose series Citizen Khan will be hitting BBC One this autumn) has chosen the comedy classic Blazing Saddles. Bournville-born rising star Felicity Jones (Like Crazy, Soulboy) has chosen Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.

Lawrence of Belgravia – a portrait of neglected Birmingham pop genius Lawrence (Felt, Denim) who had a massive influence on bands including Pulp and Belle and Sebastian. Lawrence grew up opposite the mac and will be there to present the film.

Flatpack Festival have also partnered with Colmore Business District to bring a mini festival to the area. Film Bug will take over venues across Birmingham’s commercial centre from 14-16 March and will feature films presented by West Midlands organisations including Kino10, Flip Festival, Just Film Co-operative, Stirchley Happenings and Juniper Cinema. A range of films will be shown including archive films of Birmingham.

The full programme and tickets are available from www.flatpackfestival.org.uk

In Digbeth no-one can hear you scream