Birmingham may not be LA, but it’s still a movie town

By Helga Henry

Birmingham has a suburb called Hollywood but frankly, that’s where the similarity with Los Angeles ends, right?

Wrong.

The region has a great film offer – but not necessarily in the mainstream. We have “hidden gems” which are well worth finding out.

There’s nothing nicer in this weather than to lose yourself in a great film. Even nicer when tucked up on the sofa seats at the Electric Cinema where you can enjoy a big glass of wine served up at your own sofa, film-star style!

There are other places to catch a movie.

Take Screen Sundays at The Plough in Harborne – free films and popcorn from six.

Next month heralds the third Flatpack Festival by the mighty 7inch cinema.

7inch started life in 2003 as a monthly film night at The Rainbow in Digbeth and has grown to a five-day festival, kicking off in the Town Hall. They have some unusual venues – I saw a wonderful animated film with ethereal live soundtrack in St Paul’s, Hockley, last festival.

You can catch innovative approaches to film as well.

New arrival in the region, Kala Phool premiered Mother India 21st Century Re-mix (MI21) at the Drum last year.

A re-imagining of the Oscar-nominated 1957 film, it featured a re-cut of the movie and live soundtrack with DJ, cello, drums and keyboards.

It is typical of the high quality, diverse and powerful film experiences available to those who seek them out.

But while it’s nice to consume, it’s better to produce. And we make films here too.

The Brothers McLeod were nominated this year for a BAFTA for their animation film Codswallop.

I watched Clubbed and (violence aside) enjoyed seeing my city in general, and Edgbaston reservoir in particular, on the big screen.

Joy was filmed in Handsworth Park using a cast of local people and directed by Desperate Optimists.

It won the Prix UIP Rotterdam, Best Short Film at the Darklight Festival and is putting Handsworth on the map at festivals world-wide.

Finally, two films in production feature local women producers or directors.

Souled Out – filmed in Stoke and Brum, is produced by Natasha Carlish. Director Debbie Issit is following up the success of Confetti with Christmas-themed movie, Nativity.

It’s a truly exciting time for film here.

Now all we need is some LA-style sunshine…

‘Birmingham may not be LA, but it’s still a movie town’ is Helga’s new column for the Birmingham Post, it follows on from ‘Be creative this Christmas – it could be one to remember’

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