Two things helped give birth to 7 Inch Cinema: masses of good films out there, particularly shorts, that never get near our cinemas or TV screens; and more and more people choosing to watch film online or on beefy home entertainment systems. We are firm believers in the old-fashioned communal film experience. Our job is to sift through festivals, archives, DVD submissions and the web for interesting work and then to screen it in a relaxed setting for people to enjoy, perhaps alongside a discussion, a bit of music or a quiz. The setting could be a pub, an art gallery, a church, a warehouse, a military decontamination tent. It could even be a cinema. The main thing is to create a sense of occasion, and to show people something they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
7inch started life in June 2003 as a monthly filmnight at the Rainbow in Digbeth, screening local and international shorts interspersed with live acts and DJs to a lively but surprisingly attentive audience. A couple of years and hundreds of films later we launched the first Flatpack Festival, applying a similar mixtape approach on a more ambitious scale in venues across Birmingham with a programme which included just about every size and shape of film you might want to imagine along with installations, performances and plenty more besides. On the strength of excellent audiences and rapturous acclaim we did it again in 2007, and Flatpack 3 is now gestating as you read this… Much as we love Birmingham it’s also nice to get away occasionally. Our pawprints have been found on a range of venues and festivals including the ICA in London, Leicester Phoenix, the Cube in Bristol, Netwerk Arts Centre in Aalst, Aurora in Norwich, the Green Man Festival and many others. We ran the film-tent at the Shambala Festival for 5 years (below), and have provided the film programme for every edition thus far of Capsule’s mighty fine Supersonic festival.
We also enjoy dusting off old films and television programmes and returning them to the places where they were made, screening in unexpected places as a way of stirring up conversations and stories. As part of the Landmarks project we found ourselves showing Philip Donnellan documentaries in a blacked-out market-stall in Cradley Heath, while other archive adventures have included projects around the Mitchell and Kenyon collection, cult Birmingham crime drama Gangsters and the early work of Madeleine Carroll.
We’ve collaborated closely with organisations including Compton Verney and Ikon to create temporary film spaces which can help shed new light on an exhibition and pull in new audiences who might not normally visit a gallery. And we have extensive experience of putting together education projects, from schools screenings and animation workshops to practical masterclasses and talks on short film.