Auditorium DAMSLab > 15:00


Ali Catterall, Jane Giles
Introduced by

Ali Catterall and Jane Giles


Sunday 25/06/2023


Original version with subtitles

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

Film Notes

The Scala had magic; it was like joining a club, a very secret club like a biker gang or something. 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.

John Waters

This entertaining and ultimately moving documentary tells the riotous inside story of London’s legendary Scala cinema from 1978 to 1993.
During Britain’s politically turbulent post-punk and pre-digital Thatcher years, the Scala inspired a generation with its repertory programme of over 4000 titles, ranging from high-art classics to sexploitation, horror, Kung Fu and LGBTQ+ in daily-changing double bills and all-nighters. Battered 35mm and 16mm prints of films by Pasolini, Walerian Borowczyk, Russ Meyer, Derek Jarman and David Lynch formed the beating heart of the Scala’s monthly programme alongside others that pushed even further at the boundaries of taste and convention.
A cavernous, crumbling picture palace populated by resident cats and reverberating with the rumbling of the underground train lines below, the Scala became infamous for the mayhem that happened off-screen. It finally imploded in a perfect storm of recession, technical changes and challenges including the growth of home video, plus a ruinous lawsuit… But what a legacy!
Archive footage, eye-popping movie clips and the testimonies of the Scala’s audience members who went on to become famous filmmakers, musicians, writers, artists, actors and activists, combine in this universal shout-out to the power of cinemas to inspire impressionable young minds and create a sense of community among outsiders.

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Ali Catterall, Jane Giles. F.: Sarah Appleton. M.: Edward Mills. Scgf.: Andrew Starke. Mus.: Barry Adamson. Int.: John Waters, Caroline Catz, Ben Wheatley, Ralph Brown, Mary Harron, Adam Buxton, Peter Strickland, Beeban Kidron, Isaac Julien, Stewart Lee. Prod.: Alan Marke, Jim Reid, Andrew Starke. DCP. Bn e Col