Flatpack Film Festival
Review: Carl Hopley 26 April 2016
Much loved and needed, scaled down but strong as ever
Since its launch 10 years ago, Flatpack Film Festival has truly established itself as one of Birmingham’s much loved and needed arts events. Although scaled down slightly and running over a shorter period than previous years, Flatpack maintained its eclectic mix of engaging exhibitions, film showings, displays and installations.
As in past years, the displays and events where to be found across a range of venues and spaces in the city; each place utilised to create the maximum impact for the visitor. BCU’s Parkside Gallery hosted this years Unpacked, Previously known as Swipeside. Here artists and filmmakers were able to deconstruct the work and explain their creative processes. Running along side these talks and demonstrations were to be found a range installations, performances and screenings. In addition, students from the BCU contributed to the displays, gaining inspiration from the artists as a starting point to develop their own new projects.
Amongst the many events and exhibitions that ran over the week was a wonderful and evocative body of work by photographer Richard Nicolson. Entitled The Projectionist, the work, part of a wider research project for the University of Warwick, was displayed in the wonderful setting of Birmingham’s old Gas Hall. Over many months, Nicholson travelled the country gaining access to that room that many cinemagoers, with a sense of curiosity, have often looked over their shoulder to – the projection box. As film has given way to the digital revolution, the work place and role of projectionist has changed dramatically. Nicholson’s images, through a combination of considered lighting and respectful sensitivity to the subject, truly captures a pivotal moment of change. His subjects seem resigned to the passing of an era. Photographed among the huge projector reels, splicers and gigantic mechanical monsters that are the film projectors, you share in a sense of loss these individuals must feel. There is certainly a feeling of melancholy but tempered with a warm sense of nostalgia too. Nicholson gave a most insightful talk on the Sunday, in which he described the development of his ideas and challenges he encountered, before he found the approach he needed for the images to work.
As Flatpack celebrates its tenth anniversary, it has to be said, that from its conception a decade ago to where it is today, it has become one of the most endearing events on the Birmingham arts calendar, here’s to the next ten years.