10 things you cannot miss at Birmingham On Film
A FESTIVAL exploring how Birmingham has evolved on film and TV over the last decade is currently taking place in venues across the city.
The event, which is on until October 15, will be showing modern day productions to rare gems from the archive and will trace the story of a city that is continually reinventing itself.
The festival, which is being ran by Flatpack, based at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, will include screenings, exhibitions and talks where visitors will learn all about Birmingham’s history in the film industry.
Here are our choices of what you cannot miss during the event…
Birmingham’s Film Knight
12 September – 21 October, Birmingham City University Parkside – Free
Sir Michael Balcon produced over 250 films, gave Alfred Hitchcock his first film role, and in 1948 he was knighted for his contribution to British cinema. He was also a born and bred Brummie. This exhibition, curated by Roger Shannon, examines Sir Michael’s life and career through a Birmingham lens, from his early filmmaking adventures to his work at the iconic Ealing Studios.
I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle
23rd September, 19:00-21:15, Newman Bros Coffin Works – £7/£5
A feature film spin-off of 80s comedy-drama series Boon, this cult classic features a young man (Neil Morrissey) who buys a motorbike only to discover that it’s possessed by the evil spirit of a man who was killed by a motorbike gang. The film was largely filmed in Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter.
Wednesday 28 Sept, 20:00-22:00, Birmingham Town Hall – £10 / £8
This music business satire was the first feature by maverick director Peter Watkins and stars Paul Jones of Manfred Mann as Birmingham-boy-turned-pop-messiah Steven Shorter. The film features a range of distinctive local locations, from a memorable opening sequence in the Town Hall to a bizarre finale in the Birmingham City ground.
4th October, 18:30-21:00, Handsworth Library – £4/£3
This one-hour documentary was unusual at the time in offering recent arrivals to Birmingham from the Caribbean the chance to speak for themselves. Featuring a tapestry of candid interviews with characters including teacher Bernice Smith and signalman Stan Crooke, it caused some controversy locally. Today it stands as a fascinating time-capsule from a turbulent period.
Take Me High
6th October, 19:00-22:30, Regency Wharf – £15 including burger
Clearly being punished for something he did in a previous life, smooth London banker Tim Matthews (Cliff Richard) is sent to Birmingham and finds himself living on a narrowboat in Gas St Basin. It isn’t long before he’s won over by the city’s gritty concrete charms.
A Private Enterprise
9th Oct, 12:00-13:45, Electric – £5.90-£13.90
Shiv Verma is a recent graduate fending off marriage offers, bogus spiritualism and parental expectations, while hatching his own plans for a small Birmingham factory selling Indian trinkets. This engaging, understated tale is seen by many as the first British-Asian film, co-written by Dilip Hiro and starring the charismatic Salmaan Peerzada in the lead role.
City of a Thousand Locations
10th October, 17:30-19:30, The Mockingbird – £4
Birmingham is becoming increasingly popular as a backdrop for all kinds of film and television, from the zombie dystopia of The Girl With All the Gifts to 70s spy thriller The Game. This evening is a chance to peek behind the scenes of some of these productions, and gain an insight into the shadowy world of the locations scout.
Millions Like Us
13th October, 18:30-21:30, Greenwood Academy – £3/£2
Filmed during the height of World War II, this touching home-front drama follows a group of women as they get to grips with working in a munitions factory. The factory in question was the Spitfire works in Castle Bromwich, and many of the women you see in the film were actual employees.
15th October, 14:00-16:00, mac birmingham – £8/£6
A rare chance to see two episodes of Empire Road, Britain’s first and last black soap opera, filmed on Handsworth’s Westbourne Road and starring Norman Beaton. Actress Corinne Skinner-Carter will also take part in a Q&A after the screening.
Birmingham’s What I Think With
15th October, 18:00-20:30, Centrala – £5/£3
An evening of ambulatory entertainment from Video Strolls, built around Tom Pickard’s 1991 film Birmingham’s What I Think With. This one-hour documentary follows poet Roy Fisher around various hidden corners of Birmingham, dragging a front door from the Handsworth home where he grew up. In support you will find a selection of short films and talks exploring place and people.