Preview: Flatpack 2022

The sixteenth Flatpack Festival returns to venues across Birmingham for the first time since the pandemic begun. A place where you’ll find everything from family activities to al fresco horror, this eclectic event is designed to bring people together and showcase amazing work.

This year’s programme is jam-packed with filmmaking gems, including a new comedy strand led by Instagram comedian Alistair Green. Meanwhile, BBC broadcaster Neil Brand presents his new show about Hollywood comic icons Laurel & Hardy, alongside a selection of their silent short films. There’s even a chance to catch the brilliant Joe Lycett as he chats with Shaun Keaveny about his forays into short filmmaking. And, for a truly unique experience, what about sitting down in the One Bum Cinema Club? Showing a loop of comedy shorts, this exclusive cinema has – literally – one seat.

Alongside live events and performances, at the heart of Flatpack is the world of short films, and this year’s programme includes several ASFF alumni. In Legacies, a strand about connection and relationships, you’ll find Affairs of the Art by Joanna Quinn, which played at ASFF 2021. This incredible Oscar-nominated animation features the voice work of Menna Trussler as Beryl, and dips into her eccentric family’s love for everything from taxidermy to screw threads.

Short film strand Vertigo hits the big screen on Wednesday 18 May, featuring eight films, five of which are UK premieres. Amongst the shorts competing is ASFF 2021 Official Selection comedy Man or Tree, directed by Varun Raman and Tom Hancock. This innovative four-minute short, set in the wilds, sees a tree begin to question whether it may actually be a man tripping on hallucinogenic drugs.

In Bridging the Gap, which showcases the work of eight filmmakers, you can catch British director Alfie Barker’s Hanging On, which took home Best Documentary and Best of Festival at ASFF 2021. A stirring docu-drama about neighbourhood and community, it’s a stark reminder about the struggles poeple face on a daily basis, a subject that’s become even more relevant as the cost of living crisis escalates.

Director Camille Summers-Valli also returns with her new film Beside April in the Wired for Sound strand, where eight filmmakers will compete for the Optical Sound Short Film Award. Summers-Valli is an ASFF regular – in 2015 she brought Violet Hour to the festival and, two years later, All That Is. Her new work Beside April is an exhilarating music video for the band BADBADNOTGOOD, from their latest album Talk Memory.

Last, but by no means least, the Screendance Competition is back – featuring a series of dance films from directors and choreographers. Amongst the ten films on show is True Sound Façade by ASFF 2021 alumnus Laura N-Tamara. A unique and colourful mix of chorography and animation, featuring dancer Kino McHugh, it’s a hugely uplifting watch something that could be said about all of Flatpack 2022.

Flatpack 2022 takes place from 17 -22 May across Birmingham.

James Mottram