Like many other events of late, Flatpack Festival was last month forced to cancel its fourteenth edition scheduled for May. But fear not, its acclaimed short film competition is going ahead online, with the usual stew of animation, documentary and inventive weirdness available to audiences globally for the first time.
Families will be well served with two special Colour Box programmes and a range of activities to try at home, while PechaKucha Birmingham and Overlap Animation Social will each present their first virtual events. Kicking off on Friday 1 May, a new programme will launch every day for the following fortnight – all of it free to enjoy.
What seems like many years ago back in early March, the Flatpack team was preparing to send its colourful, jam-packed programme to print. Then it quickly became clear that the festival wasn't happening, as a new era of remote working began, including a mad dash to get film programmer Lucile Bourliaud safely back to France. Since then the team have been plotting creative ways to share the festival experience digitally. "It felt really important to make a positive gesture at such an uncertain time," says Flatpack director Ian Francis, "and the filmmakers and artists we work with have been incredibly supportive about launching their work online rather than through physical screenings."
A number of exclusives and premieres can be found in the main competition programme, curated around themes that seem to have taken on a whole new meaning recently. These include: Living in the Digital Age – The Human Factor; Passing a Threshold and Returning As Something Else – The Other Side; Getting To Know Ourselves Through the Places We Call Home – Between Worlds; Looking After Each Other – Come Together, and Changing Perspectives – Seeing Things Differently.
The hugely talented filmmakers featured, whether emerging or established, explore our human condition, helping us to find meaning in chaos and beauty in the mundane.
Many contributors will be sharing interviews and special insights into the making of their work, and having cancelled their trips to Birmingham the festival's committed jury members will now be judging the work from their laptops at home. Seven prizes in total are up for grabs, and you can also have your say by casting a vote in the audience awards for both the grownup and Colour Box programmes.
As well as the week-long programmes on the Flatpack site, the festival will also be hosting a number of live-streamed events via YouTube, starting with Taster Menu on 2 May 2020.