1967. The ‘white heat’ of Harold Wilson’s scientific revolution was at its hottest, and his Minister of Technology Tony Benn commissioned seven mobile cinemas to tour British factories promoting modern production methods. After a few years service this fleet of custom built Bedfords was sold off, and by 2003 the only known survivor was rusting in a field in Essex.
After an excitable pub conversation Devon arts graduate and vintage vehicle enthusiast Ollie Halls and his partner Emma Giffard took on the project of reviving the vehicle, and spent the next four years returning it as close as possible to its original 1960s condition. The Vintage Mobile Cinema has been back on the road since spring last year, and before it gets hijacked by Melvyn Bragg for a BBC series we’re delighted to welcome it to Birmingham for the duration of Flatpack.
There have been a few changes; rather than 16mm the cinema now employs digital projection and Dolby 7.1 sound. We also guarantee that it won’t just be screening industrial training films! Every day the mobile cinema unit will stop at a different destination around Birmingham, with a programme of films tailored to each stop.
Thursday 24 March, 12-5pm
Handsworth Library, Soho Road, Birmingham B21 9DP
Make It Handsworth – a day of watching and making in partnership with Craftspace. Various crafty activities will be on offer, and a film programme ranging from knitted animations to Handsworth home-movies. Plus Breathing Space, a 60s film about the redevelopment of Birmingham’s parks introduced by writer Catherine O’Flynn.
Saturday 26 March, 10am-4pm
Birmingham Markets, next to St Martins Church in the BullRing, B5 5BB
After visiting various locations around east Birmingham on Friday, the unit hits town at the weekend. Weary shoppers can enjoy a rolling programme of films old and new, including footage of the markets and Bull Ring in their previous incarnations.
Sunday 27 March, 11am-4pm
Cannon Hill Park, Edgbaston Road, Birmingham B5 7QU
A leafy finale to this little tour. While all manner of screenings and activities are going on in the mac, you can also wander outside, feed the ducks and catch some free films.
All screenings are free. Not surprisingly capacity is limited, and you can book yourself in for a screening by signing up on the day. No advance bookings. Following Flatpack the Vintage Mobile Cinema will continue to Herefordshire for the Borderlines Film Festival. See www.borderlinesfilmfestival.org for further details, or for more background on the VMC visit www.vintagemobilecinema.co.uk.