Film pop-up event Flatpack Festival returns to Digbeth with newfound comedy focus

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The Flatpack Festival, which takes place over several venues around Birmingham, boasts a new “comedy strand” headed up by Joe Lycett and Alistair Green for its 2022 rendition.

Belgian band Frankie’s Laguna Beach, set to perform in this year’s Festival (Cr. Flatpack Festival)

The festival first began as “7 Inch Cinema”, a mixed-media night in Digbeth. The first eponymous Flatpack Festival took place in 2006 and has remained in Digbeth ever since.

Previously, comedy was a background concept amongst Flatpack’s celebrations of film, filmmakers, music, and artists – but this year the Festival is going all out on comedy with multiple Comedians set to give talks and preview their stand-up and film work.

Festival programmer Sam Groves explained: “We divide the festival up into different strands, feature films, short films, and time machine (older films), but the new strand we’ve got this year is comedy. It explores the relationship between film and comedians, live comedy and performance.”

Groves said: “We’ve got an event with Joe Lycett who’s ventured into filmmaking recently, so we’re going to look at some of the films he’s made and his inspirations.”

The pandemic ultimately made its mark on Flatpack, abruptly cancelling 2020’s events and significantly altering the programme for 2021.

Comedy taking its place amongst Flatpack’s brimming roster of mixed-media comes from the same origin, with many comedians opting to explore filmmaking over the last two years in lieu of live performances.

Groves said: “We’ve got a performance called Tattered Earth, with a Birmingham based artist called Tat Vision who produces a lot of funny videos on Instagram. The concept for the performance is a post-apocalyptic world where there is no money, the only currency is tat which you get from charity shops – and then it turns into a rave.”

Tat Vision with a large Papier-mâché head for his Flatpack Stage Show. (Cr. Tat Vision)

Groves added: “We wanted the vibe of this festival to be quite playful, a lot of fun.”

Despite the Festival changing significantly over its nearly two decade run, Groves is adamant that their values and goals, to bring about discussion of film and explore the parameters of film beyond the screen, are still as present as ever.

Just as the values of Flatpack have stood over time, its location has too. Despite taking place throughout much of the City Centre, Flatpack’s hub and core have always stayed in Digbeth.

Groves said: “We always want to try and use spaces that we can completely take over and turn into a screening or a performance space, a café or a bar. Digbeth has a few warehousy type places and it allows us to do that. It’s probably why we’ve been there so long.”

Flatpack Festival takes place from the 17th to the 22nd of May, with tickets on sale at https://flatpackfestival.org.uk/flatpack-2022.

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