Flatpack Festival
Film, and then some

Street Art and Stitching

Sunday 15th March, 2009

Made it to the Floodgate Kino just in time to catch Knitflicks, a programme of films originally put together to accompany Compton Verney’s ‘Fabric of Myth’ exhibition. The shorts – a combination of live action and animation – all focused on wool and thread. The charming programme was given an extra special touch when the audience was encouraged to knit as they watched (wool and needles kindly donated by Stitches and Hos!). I particularly enjoyed Knitting Pretty – a psychedelic Yugoslavian cartoon about Professor Balthasar and his merry band knitting eight-sleeved jumpers for a bunch of octopuses.

I left the Kino and headed down the road to the Custard Factory to catch David O’Reilly’s Secret Cinema –a mash-up programme of rare internet finds and bizarre shorts, acting as a jukebox of inspiration for animators. There was even an episode of Nightmare in there – I’d forgotten just how weird that programme was! I stayed on at the Custard factory for more montage madness, this time from filmmaker Jim Finn. His film, The Juche Idea, explores the cinematic theory of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il, which promotes film as a tool for strengthening the state. Finn put together a combination of pseudo documentary and found-footage made to the ‘Juche Theory’ – an incredible collection of kitsch melodrama, newsreel footage of women goose-stepping in military parades and a beautiful lyrical film of the solar system set to a rousing propaganda song.

After interviewing David O’Reilly for Electric Sheep, I headed back to the Kino to see a screening of Lorenzo Fonda’s Megunica, which has already been creating quite a bit of excitement on the film festival circuit. The documentary follows Fonda’s graffiti-artist friend, Blu, as he travels through South America, painting murals and meeting up with local street-art artists. The film was very visually inventive, using animation techniques to bring the murals to life and even CGI for the ‘Panajecal Great Escape’, a very funny episode which charted Blu’s escape when confronted with an angry land-owner. Although it was quite frustrating that the film chose not to show Blu’s face (it seemed a little self conscious), the film had some really interesting passages as graffiti artists discussed their work and passer-bys offered up some road-side art criticism. The film showed as part of a strand exploring street art and there was a real buzz in the audience about the earlier screening of Style Wars – I’m sorry I missed it. The hardest thing about Flatpack is deciding what to see from such a great programme!

The final screening of the day was Tokyo!, an anthology of three films aiming to give a portrait of contemporary Tokyo. However, when the filmmakers include Gondry and Carax, you should expect that portrait to be a little skewed and it certainly was. Gondry’s part of the trilogy was my favourite; based on a comic strip by his partner, Gabrielle Bell, it was slightly straighter than Gondry’s usual loopy visions but still included great surreal passages to enchanting effect. Even though the other two films were a bit weaker (although Carax’s film began and ended very strongly) Tokyo! is definitely worth a look to show just how imaginative filmmakers can be when given a simple brief to work with. A fitting end to a thought-provoking day. Definitely time to get some sleep!

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