11-15 March 2009
The one with the bird perched on the 3. With the Film Council giving us three whole year’s worth of money, we can start thinking a bit bigger. A new office at the Custard Factory, an actual grown-up board, and a PR company (Margaret) who really get what we do and find ways of turning it into press stories. We move to March, where we’ve lodged ever since, and start concocting a programme double the scope of previous incarnations.
One of the things that worked best about the 2009 festival was our hub, a warehouse on Floodgate St (now Boxxed). Ok, so it was bloody cold at times, with a series of increasingly huge space heaters attempting to inject some cosiness, but a group of theatre design students from BCU did a brilliant job of translating Gas’ festival identity into a 3D space. Alongside them an army of talented folks built a cinema, created installations (including Rod MacLachlan’s ethereal rotating paint-can) and rehearsed film soundtracks. These were unveiled on opening night at the Town Hall, a series of inspired compositions by the Destroyers threaded together by the story of early film showman Waller Jeffs (the first of our Patron Saints).
The Unpacked discussion day works really well, with terrific guests including Paper Cinema and the insatiably curious and lovely David O’Reilly – just embarking on a stellar animation career. An enduring Flatpack cringe moment is painting Guy Sherwin’s mirror white just a couple of hours before his Man with Mirror performance, while he looks on patiently but with some anxiety. (One of the downsides of festival organisation is inviting your heroes to come and watch you run around like a pillock.) A projectionist friend tips us off to a stash of 50s cine-films from a Northfield boys’ club; bringing them to the big screen with live piano and original members in the audience is a joy.
The features are great this year: Lorenzo Fonda’s street art doc Megunica; Djibril Diop Mambety’s restored Touki Bouki; Welsh reverie Sleep Furiously; and a coup with vampire sell-out Let the Right One In. Kids’ screenings make their first appearance, amongst them The Red Balloon, Komaneko and Yo Gabba Gabba, and visiting directors include Kieran Evans and Jeanie Finlay. Sunday night closes with a small handful of us cleaning out the bar and bouncing around the remains of Floodgate Kino.