It is a Flatpack tradition for each festival to have a 'patron saint’, people from Birmingham past who have contributed to film in some way. This year it is the turn of Iris Barry (1895-1969). Barry was born in Washwood Heath (north-east Birmingham). After moving to London in the 1920s she began to write for The Spectator about film. By 1925 she had become the film critic for The Daily Mail. Before World War II she travelled Europe rescuing many great films, (as well as helping many people to escape to the US) and became a pioneer in the field of film preservation. For her heroic work she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur.
Barry moved to New York in 1930 and founded the Museum of Modern Art Film Library. She was also a founding member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF, 1938), worked with the United Nations on their film programmes, and in 1947 acted as the first American representative to the Cannes Film Festival, which had started the previous year.
During the festival we will be exploring her life and legacy and featuring some of the films she saved. This includes a screening of Buster Keaton's Sherlock Junior with live organ from Nigel Ogden.
As well as paying tribute to a remarkable woman, the festival will explore the changing role of archives over the last 75 years. The programme will feature artists and filmmakers who appropriate and repurpose archive material including work by Thom Andersen, Duncan Campbell and Peter Tscherkassky.