Birmingham’s long-established film festival, Flatpack, kicks off a four-month season of events on Friday 21 May.

Highlights include the BAFTA-award-qualifying short-film competition - featuring more than 30 UK premieres - a feature & documentary film programme, and a selection of special events, including live-performance premieres, beer & film pairings, and a life modelling class.

The festival can be enjoyed online, outdoors and, all being well, in the city’s cinemas and auditoriums.


The UK premiere of 7 Sounds. Academy Award Nominee Sam Green is known for his innovative live documentaries, having collaborated with bands such as Yo La Tengo, Fugazi, and Kronos Quartet. He’s currently working on a new project with JD Samson (Le Tigre) called 32 Sounds, but in the process they have created something like a cross between a radio documentary, a sound walk, and ASMR. Audiences are encouraged to listen to 7 Sounds in bed, whilst Sam and JD take you on a sonic journey exploring some of the most fascinating sounds your ears will ever hear. 

The world premiere of ANNAM and Emily Scaife.  A couple of years in the making, this British Council funded project sees an unlikely collaboration between two of the most interesting emerging musicians making waves in Vietnam at the moment, and British visual artist and animator Emily Scaife. They have been commissioned to make a live audiovisual performance piece using the brilliant Saigon Supersound project as a starting point. The world premiere will be unveiled at the VCCA in Hanoi, and streamed to the rest of the world during the festival.  

Short film Competition The BAFTA-qualifying short film competition programme continues to be one of, ifnot the most distinct in the UK. Boasting over 30 UK premieres, and exploring subjects such as deepfake technology as grief therapy, personal responses to the Black Lives Matter protests, and how we inhabit our own bodies. Spanning all genres, these films are boundary-pushing, and represent the very best in contemporary filmmaking. 

Screendance Competition Joining forces with the Birmingham International Dance Festival, and independent curator and filmmaker Sima Gonsai, Flatpack will present two programmes of short films (several of which are UK premieres) that span both Flatpack 2021 and BIDF (which starts a few days later). The winner of the brand new Screendance Award will be announced at Flatpack’s awards ceremony on the closing weekend.


Colour Box The festival’s family strand features the very best short films from around the world, and the UK premiere of the Mexican animated feature A Costume for Nicholas about a young boy with Down Syndrome who helps his cousin overcome his frequent nightmares through a series of otherworldly Studio Ghibli-esque adventures.

Voices of Isolation Sonita Gale’s feature doc reveals the vast social and economic inequalities in our system that have been further exposed by the pandemic, focusing in particular on how it has revealed the need for reform in the way our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are valued. A work-in-progress screening will be followed by a discussion featuring the director, social commentator Patrick Vernon, and Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson’s daughter Natalie Barnes.

Skittish Over the last year, American technologist and co-founder of XOXO Festival Andy Baio has been working tirelessly on a brand new project - a playful virtual space for online events called Skittish. Flatpack will be the first UK festival to make use of the technology, ensuring the online experience of the festival still has a strong social element.

Trash Film Night Birmingham’s irregular Trash Film Night features hosts David and Luke, with a special guest comedian, talking the audience through the very best bits of one of the very worst films ever made.

Short Film Beer Pairing Teaming up with independent brewery DigBrew, Flatpack has curated a selection of classic short films paired with some of the brewery's finest beverages. Enjoy a pint of the very special Waka / Jawak (named after Frank Zappa’s fourth album) while feasting your eyes on the mind-melting work of Zappa’s collaborator Bruce Bickford.

Nude Triumphant Produced during the first lockdown in 2020, Nude Triumphant is a short film that combines painting from life with experimental digital animation. Produced by a community of Queer and intersectional life models and artists, the film encourages us to pause and reflect, discovering our unique identities in stillness and building a healthier relationship with time and with ourselves. After the screening, there will be a life modelling class hosted by ‘Professor Jo Calderwood’.

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