A documentary about the Scala Cinema is coming out

Before it was a club/music venue, the Scala was a legendary cinema…

A documentary all about the Scala cinema, which has gone down in history for bringing outlandish outsider cinema to London, is coming to the city’s screens in the new year. SCALA!!! or, the incredibly strange rise and fall of the world’s wildest cinema and how it influenced a mixed-up generation of weirdos and misfits, which has been co-directed by Jane Giles (formerly a programmer at Scala and author of Scala Cinema 1978-1993) and filmmaker Ali Catterall, will be in cinemas from Fri 5th January 2024.

The Scala originally opened as the King’s Cross Cinema over 100 years ago, in 1920, and has had other past lives as the Gaumont, the Odeon and a brief stint as an adult theatre in the early 1970s. It then debuted as a live music venue, hosting Iggy Pop & The Stooges and Lou Reed, in 1972. The documentary will look at the Scala’s history between 1978 and 1993 when it was managed by filmmaker and actor Stephen Woolley.

A repertory cinema, the Scala screened a programme of cult favourites, horror, sexploitation, Kung Fu and LGBT+ cinema. It was an illegal screening of A Clockwork Orange that ultimately brought on its end when the cinema was sued by the film’s copyright holder, Warner Bros, and went into receivership.

In its 15 years, the Scala Cinema garnered a wild reputation and an international cult of fans. John Waters, who was one of them, said of the cinema: “It’s like they were a country club for criminals and lunatics and people that were high…which is a good way to see movies.” The documentary will feature interviews with Waters and former manager Woolley, as well as JoAnne Sellar, Caroline Catz, Ben Wheatley, Ralph Brown, Mary Harron, Adam Buxton, Peter Strickland, Beeban Kidron, Isaac Julien, Stewart Lee and more. Find your nearest screening here.

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