Fierce and Flatpack

Various venues throughout Birmingham – 22 – 27 March

Spring really is just around the corner; the snowdrops are out, the blossom won’t be far behind, and come the end of the month the clocks’ll be going forward, bringing some much-needed daylight back to the evenings.

The sap is rising, and as the creative juices start to flow again, Fierce and Flatpack, sharing the same week for the first time, will present an eclectic programme of art, film and performance across Birmingham.

Fierce makes a welcome return after two years, with new Artistic Directors Laura McDermott and Harun Morrison at the helm. There’ll be spectacular projects and public interventions, along with the agenda-setting performances and wild parties on which the festival’s 10-year reputation rests.

Journeys and the notion of exploring the city are the threads tying this year’s Fierce programme together, inspired partly by Laura and Harun’s own voyage of discovery as they got to know Birmingham. They’ve invited the artists they’re working with in their ‘Caravan of Artists’ to join them on that journey.

Here are a few highlights we’ve picked out:

A Day in the Life (The Walkers of Birmingham) – performance duo plan b are inviting members of the public to take a GPS data logger out with them for a day, with the aim of eventually drawing a walking map of the city from a collection of people’s individual movements.

James Webb – Prayer – the South African artist will be in Birmingham all through March recording prayers, chants and religious songs from all the faith groups in the city, hoping to create a ‘portrait of the city in sound’, forming a sound installation by turns harmonious and discordant.

The Commentators – Stan’s Cafe will be enlarging on these characters, a pair of 70s-style sports commentators who are out of a job and looking for whatever work they can get, most likely a day in the life of Selfridges and a night in the life of Broad Street.

Lundahl & Seitl – Symphony of a Missing Room – one of the pieces the Fierce Directors themselves are most excited about, this is a sensory tour of a museum, in this case Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Each audience member is blindfolded and guided by a performer as they listen to instructions on headphones.

There’s a whole host more going on, so for full programme information and bookings please visit www.wearefierce.org. WL

This year 7 Inch Cinema‘s Flatpack Festival returns to Birmingham’s venues to celebrate its fifth birthday in style . . . as always!

It’s one of our favourite times of year in Birmingham; you can almost feel the atmosphere dripping from the ceiling as hipsters, fans and industry professionals alike are united at the screenings, performances and eccentric after-parties (remember Gangpol und Mit and Plasticine Party last year?).

We can tell you now that 2011’s festival seems set to impress with a line-up of events including the usual mental mélange of filmic goodness alongside live scores, late night parties, AV performances and a restored 60s mobile cinema.

Exciting new offerings include interactive projections, psychedelic animation and prize-winning documentaries.

For those of you who are new to the festival, venues include converted warehouses, shop fronts, art galleries and the restored vintage gem which is the 100-year-old Electric Cinema – a beautiful space which just has to be seen.

Our picks of this year’s programme include:

Rubber – the new feature from the multitalented Quentin Dupieux (aka Mr Oizo) is a one-of-a-kind B-movie about a psychotic car tyre who goes on the rampage.

Piercing, I – the critically acclaimed animated feature by Liu Jian was generated over three years on a WACOM graphic tablet and heralds China’s arrival at the forefront of animation.

We Don’t Care About Music Anyway – ear-opening portrait of Japan’s experimental music scene, accompanied by a live set by Sakamoto Hiromichi.

Pram – Shadow Shows – first full UK performance of a deliciously creepy ‘experiment in surreal horror’ using projections and silhouettes to summon up nightmarish fairy tales.

Paper Party – Saturday-night antics include a live performance by audio-visual duo Sculpture who use video zoetrope record decks, tape loops, cassettes, samples, computer programming and lo-fi electronics. Plus Origamibiro live and a VJ set from animator David Wilson.

Vintage Mobile Cinema – the magical 22-seater cine bus, perfectly restored from its 1960s heyday, will be touring across the city throughout Flatpack with a range of shorts, home-movies and archive clips.

Mind Bombs – pulsing, psychedelic eye candy in the form of shorts and music videos by a host of upcoming filmmakers including ‘cell animator’ Mirai Mizue.

For film, art and music fans nationwide – if you only come to Birmingham once this year, make sure it’s for Flatpack.

For full programme information and bookings please visit www.flatpackfestival.org. AF

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