Scalarama festival kicks off on Monday 1st September, for 30 days of uk wide film screenings – now in it’s third year and even bigger than ever before. It’s stated aim – to FILL THE LAND WITH CINEMAS – sounds utopian (perhaps even naive?) at first, and yet, looking at the map of screenings taking place, that is exactly what Scalarama – and the hundreds of participating exhibitors – have managed to achieve. It is remarkable, and I think it could have a HUGE impact.
The amazing thing of course is that these ‘cinemas’ (using all possible definitions of the word) already existed. The festival has simply managed to unite these screenings – in all their forms – under one epic banner. From established cinemas, to community film clubs, niche programing events and radical enthusiasts, the range of people taking part is phenomenal, and the films are just fantastic. The festival as a whole throws into sharp contrast the regular programing of mainstream (and even some independent) cinemas, and highlights the imagination, creativity, spirit, and downright perverse tastes of film events organisers across the UK. And there are so many! It is as if Scalarama has shone an ultra-violet across the country to reveal the splattered evidence of a mass outbreak of independent film culture. It is infectious, colourful, weird, and everywhere. Friends you are not alone.
Yes, it looks like a fun thing, when you see the land mapped out in shades of Divine, with scratch n sniff screenings up and down the country, or a bottle-shop screening of The Golem (paired with a dark German beer), but I think it’s also a radical thing too. This is a bottom-up grass-roots festival – a co-ordination of film activity led by people who love film – that is the primary force behind it – not a market model of distribution and exhibition, but simply a love of film – fantastical, challenging, classic, inclusive, transgressive film experiences in a huge variety of forms, galvanised by a sense of community.
So let me extend a huge well done hug, chest thump of victory and bow of respect to everyone taking part in the festival, and of course to Michael and the Scalarama team for creating such a gorgeous, radical and exciting banner to march under. It’s a stroke of genius inspired by your many acts of cinematic madness. Together you’ve filled and the land with cinemas.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be enjoying the festival and following its impact, plus I’ll be having guest writers choose their highlights for the week. If anyone fancies sharing their experience of taking part in Scalarama, either as a filmgoer or an events organiser, please get in touch. This site is a place to share events but also to share stories.
So, find yourself a Scalarama newspaper (they look brilliant), enjoy the trailer below, and check out the map for events taking place near you.