Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birmingham Flatpack Festival

Even after 20-odd years living in Birmingham I'm still finding out fascinating new things about the city. Today marks the start of the annual Flatpack Festival, which celebrates all things cinematic.

One of the highlights this year is a bus tour around three gems of the Odeon cinema empire. The founder of Odeon, Oscar Deutsch, was born in Birmingham (Balsall Heath, to be precise) in 1893 and the early cinemas were all built in the West Midlands in the high art deco style of the 1930s. Over the years the lavish interiors have been toned down (they used to have glamorous uniformed usherettes as well as carpet, chandeliers and potted plants) but the buildings themselves remain as landmarks in many places.

As well as the tour (more details here if you're interested!) English Heritage have a complete collection of photographer John Maltby's pictures of every Odeon cinema in the UK. You can see the photos at the English Heritage viewfinder site - just type 'Odeon' into the search box.

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