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Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham - Unpacked Day, 19th Jan

Well this festival left me reinvigorated for what a film fest can be. Excuse me if I spiral off into hyperbole, but the programme, the people and style of fest just don't seem to fit in with the way that everything else seems so hyper-defined and funding-box-ticking, it was just programmed really imaginatively and diversely. It felt instinctive and well informed. In short, totally cool.


I was invited to talk on a panel at Unpacked on Thursday, the first day of the fest, and I found the day genuinely interesting and refreshingly well attended too. It all took place at VIVID, which is housed in a converted MOT garage in the Digbeth area of Birmingham. The first panel I caught was 'The Joy of Limitations' on people who use obsolete technology, including a skate filmmaker/VJ called Chris Keenan who uses Super8 and Lomo (not exactly obsolete but we'll let that pass), Mike Johnston who programmes video using a ZX Spectrum and Vladimir, an artist from Portland Oregon who creates stories for 3-D Viewmasters. The talk reminded me of the equally cool Low Grade symposium at last year's Futuresonic in Manchester.

Next up was a session on 'Reusing Archive' with Vicki Bennett (People Like Us), who uses loads of material from free sources such as Rick Prelinger and spoke inspiringly about the nature of creativity and how you shouldn't start from a perspective of what is not possible/legal, "Artist dictates culture, commerce follows." Next was Nicky Smyth from the BBC Creative Archive project, which I think is pretty cool (or at least has the potential to be). It's like there is a radical philosophy change happening in some parts of the Beeb, and I hope it spreads to further reaches of the organisation some time soon.

The final panel 'New Forms of Distribution' was Ian Francis (one half of 7Inch Cinema who organise the fest), Jamie Eastman from Plexi who was laidback and cool, and myself. I was a bit hyper and basically unleashed a torrent of disconnected theories and sources, spoke about festivals, DIY screenings, trains, exploitation, Big Screens, mobile phone companies and video iPods and cooler stuff like Emma Hedditch's And I Will Do (Anything To Get Girls In My Bedroom) project.

After the panels I met Sara, a festival associate (who's going to demolish a towerblock - brilliant!) who had kindly agreed to let me crash in her spare room for a couple of nights. We went back to hers and met her fella Mat and cat Victor and ate anchovies on pizza.

The opening nite party was at The Rainbow pub which I gather is a regular 7Inch venue. Some shorts were screened (including Run Wrake's genius animate! short 'Rabbit'), some yodelling records were played and I drunkenly chatted to various filmmaker artist dudes. On the bus home we met the two very cool ladies from Capsule who run the Supersonic new music festival and have just confirmed Liars for a February show.