Silent films at the Flatpack Festival, Birmingham, 23-27 March 2011

Sherlock Jr (1924)
Sherlock Jr (1924)

Another excuse for a trip outside the big smoke, Flatpack Festival is a quirky event, showing “cinematic wonders” of all kinds at venues across Birmingham at the end of March. And there is plenty on the schedule to entice a silent film fan.

First up is an evening at Birmingham Town Hall called Digging for Gold. This event is a tribute to film historian Iris Barry and features  a screening of Buster Keaton’s magnificent Sherlock Jr along with some European shorts. Music will be provided by Nigel Ogden and Alcyona Mick

Digging for Gold is at Brimingham Town Hall on 24 March at 7.30pm.

On the final day of the festival you can enjoy The Keystone Cut Ups at the Electric Cinema, which mixes early slapstick film with scenes from surrealist films of the same era.

People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz have been regular collaborators for some time, and when commissioned by Berwick Media Arts & Film Festival last year the result was The Keystone Cut Ups; a kaleidoscopic split-screen voyage through silent cinema which combines celluloid moments both familiar and uncanny with an original score performed live in the auditorium. Striding purposefully into its second century, the Electric Cinema should provide the perfect setting.

You can see a short video excerpt here. The Keystone Cut Ups screens at the Electric Cinema on 27 March at 7.30pm.

Depending on which way your interest in early cinema runs, you may also be interested in a couple more events. There’s a screening of the classic Mae West film She Done Him Wrong (1933) on Sunday 27 March and the spooky Shadow Shows opens the festival on Wednesday 23 March with its Lotte Reiniger inspired silhouettes:

The performance is built around a triple-screen film projection, incorporating techniques of early cinema and a variety of shadow effects. The original music score and sound effects are performed live by Pram as hidden conspirators behind a giant film screen, occasionally also glimpsed as silhouetted figures incorporated into its fractured scheme of images. The musicians employ an eclectic mixture of electronic and acoustic instruments, while the sound effects are created using hand-crafted devices from the theatre of a bygone age.

All this as well as screenings of new and classic films, a vintage mobile cinema, and some very special cakes. More details at the Flatpack Festival website here.

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