Pete Walsh, RIP

Pete Walsh
Image via Irish Times

The doors of the Irish Film Institute will be closed today as a mark of respect to Pete Walsh, the IFI programmer who died last week. A passionate cinephile, Pete spent 18 years shaping Dublin’s film culture and it’s clear from the stream of tributes which have emerged over the weekend that he was hugely valued in this role. (See Donald Clarke’s tribute for the Irish Times.)

Birmingham also has plenty to thank Pete Walsh for. He was involved in the early days of the city’s Arts Lab, gathering an eclectic programme of international and underground film for “the world’s most uncomfortable cinema” at their Tower Street space, then stayed onboard as they moved to new premises on Holt Street and finally to the Triangle – a fondly-remembered but short-lived arthouse cinema on the Aston University campus. (This 1988 video by Dave Harte includes an interview with Pete at the venue.) When I talked to him in the IFI bar a couple of years back he had many good memories of his years in Birmingham, in particular the ‘lost weekend’ which Dennis Hopper spent in the city in the early 80s.

As you may know Flatpack celebrates a ‘patron saint’ at each festival, and next March we’re paying tribute to the Arts Lab. This will be an opportunity to doff a cap to all the work that Pete did here, but more broadly to explore the amazing range of things that went on there (from experimental music to eye-popping poster art – see below). Watch this space for more details.

Arts Lab posters

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