Picture Playhouse Programmes: Reflections

Written by Ian Francis During his visit to Flatpack last May, composer and accompanist Neil Brand talked about the early days of silent cinema in Birmingham. He brought along a stash of 1914 and 1915 programmes from the Acocks Green Picture Playhouse, a suburban 500-seater that didn’t manage the transition to sound and was demolished […]

The Music Man: An Audience with Eric Turland

Written by Ian Francis I visited Eric Turland at his home in Poole in the late summer of 2022. A proud Brummie, he was still basking in the glow of the Commonwealth Games and happy to see his hometown showing its best side on national telly. On the eve of his 98th birthday it was […]

The Dream Factory

Wonderland researcher Shelley Budgeon reflects on the common threads in three oral histories about formative film experiences. The social and cultural significance of cinema reaches far beyond its role as a form of entertainment. Going to the cinema provides the opportunity to be transported to distant places; to be fascinated by the lives playing out […]

Cyril Barbier: Small Wonder

Article by Ian Francis with photographs by David Rowan and film above by Luke Unsworth. Our journey through Birmingham’s cinema stories began with a misty drive into the Rhondda Valley. We were on the trail of a scale model of the Odeon New Street, which had made its way from a spare bedroom in Sutton […]

Latenight Tales with Cecil Morris

During the 16th Flatpack Festival (17-22 May 2022) we had the pleasure of staging a conversation between Cecil Morris and Garry Stewart of Recognize Black Heritage & Culture. Since arriving in Birmingham from Jamaica in the early 60s, Cecil has been a musician, DJ and cultural entrepreneur for over fifty years. During the event he […]

The Waldorf Revival

The first Balsall Heath Film festival’s grand finale perfectly encapsulated why we so love delving into people’s cinema stories, and why getting together to watch a film is such an important, joyous occasion. The Waldorf A busy local picture house before WWII, the Waldorf had a second life under the stewardship of Avtar Singh Randhawa […]