14-18 March 2012
A tricky one in terms of funding, but nonetheless we endeavoured to put on 70+ events in more than 20 different venues. Daft buggers. For the first time we teamed up with Colmore BID on the Film Bug programme, kicking off wth a Cathedral-full of people making pant-ripping sound effects under the instruction of pianist Neil Brand. The film in question was peerless Laurel and Hardy two-reeler Battle of the Century, and the boys’ Birmingham connection was explored via our fourth Patron Saint Charlie Hall – a regular stooge in Hal Roach comedies who hailed from Washwood Heath.
2012 was the first time we worked with Davy and Kristin Maguire, creators of miniature projection marvel The Icebook, and it also saw a fog-bound, waterborne screening of Carpenter’s The Fog on the Ikon Slow Boat. Those intrepid souls who experienced Outer Sight: Over Night declared it transformative, while on the final day fifteen different teams recreated the entirety of Citizen Kane in a range of media for Five Stories High. (Amongst them, Paper Cinema’s Nic Rawling, who had come for a rest and found himself cooped up in the Paragon for three days rendering the Xanadu sequence in cut-out card.)
Restless as ever, the festival hub found a perfect home in the Custard Factory’s old dance studio. Over the weekend it hosted a White Hills gig, a BFI Flipside screening of Psychomania, a magic lantern show by Mike and Tre Simkin, and a packed-out OHP Draw-Off which managed to round up just about every surviving OHP in the West Midlands. In the unit next door, ingenious and unfeasibly amiable Belgian artist Pieterjan Grandry hosted a ‘Gif Shop’ for three days, creating turntable animations with all-comers.
Animation-wise it was one of our finest years, among other things featuring the films of Robert Morgan, one of the first chances to see Julia Pott’s excellent Belly, and a beautiful selection of rare 16mm cartoons from Canadian curator Kier-la Janisse. All of this capped off with a retrospective for special guest Suzan Pitt, whose intuitive commitment to ploughing her own furrow was an inspiration. Adil Ray introduced formative comedy Blazing Saddles, and another homecoming hero was surname-dodging Lawrence (Felt, Denim), who gave terrific Q&A for a full house of devotees after bittersweet portrait Lawrence of Belgravia.
Design duties were taken up by Robin and Harry from An Endless Supply, and in terms of customer experience it was gratifying to have feedback cards comment on Flatpack’s increasingly polished presentation. (Albeit with a hefty dose of ramshackle still in the mix. I still have nightmares about the Masonic rituals required to navigate the menus on HDCam players.). These signs of professionalism were thanks in part to the influence of ops whiz Selina, and more broadly perhaps we were beginning to get the hang of it. The experts say that once you get past festival no.5 things get easier, and in some ways it’s true…