Reel Talk: In Praise of Film Clubs
Last month, while thumbing through the GFT’s July/August programme, I let out a small squeal of delight. This was nothing unusual, there’s always something or other to get excited about in a new GFT brochure, but my response was more akin to seeing an old friend: the mighty Monorail Film Club returns on 24 August, following its annual summer hiatus, with a screening of experimental documentary Practical Electronica.
Unlike the normal repertory film audiences at the GFT, which wax and wane depending on the popularity of the title being screened, Monorail have cultivated a dedicated posse that consistently turn out each month no matter how gamy Monorail’s guest host’s movie selection, allowing it to screen the kind of obscure oddities that rarely get dusted off for art-house revival screenings.
Monorail isn’t unique, though. There are dozens of similar independent film nights throughout the country putting on edgier screenings than local art-house cinemas can justify, and, from 18 Aug to 29 Sep, several of them will be taking part in a nationwide celebration of cinema called Scala Beyond.
The event takes its named from the legendary Scala cinema in London, a dilapidated former movie palace with sticky floors and a resident cat that reputedly roamed the auditorium during screenings, which sold its last ticket stub 19 years ago but is still fondly remembered for its vibrant rep scene during the 70s and 80s. Local indie film clubs including KinoKlub, Edinburgh Zombie Club, Strange Vice and Pussy Whipped, as well as other regular film nights across the UK, will take part in this six-week film fringe festival celebrating the medium and the enthusiastic rep audiences that keep the unruly spirit of the Scala alive.
Not to be outdone, the GFT is also joining the Scala Beyond celebrations with a series of five gems that were banned on their initial release, including Frederick Wiseman’s rarely screened Titicut Follies and former Scala favourite A Clockwork Orange, which regularly played there despite the film being outlawed by its director Stanley Kubrick.
The full Scala Beyond programme can be found at scalabeyond.com