From 1978 to 1993, no other cinema in London commanded such a diverse and devoted following as the Scala. Owned and operated by Stephen Woolley, who would later serve as the producer of such acclaimed films as Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, and Carol, the repertory cinema offered an eclectic mix of double and triple bills and all-nighters of new, classic, cult, controversial, and forgotten films. Many of the films were screened or shown uncut in England for the first time before an enthusiastic membership willing to forgive the venue in London’s grimy King’s Cross for its uncomfortable seating, insufficient heating, and strange smells. Directed by former Scala programmer Jane Giles and journalist/film critic Ali Catterall, and based on Giles’ book “Scala Cinema 1978-1993,” the documentary Scala!!! examines the venue’s importance as a cultural oasis during a time of political turmoil, the community it fostered, and the influence its programming had on emerging and aspiring filmmakers and other creatives. Giles also recalls her 1992 unauthorized surprise screening of A Clockwork Orange, which led to her conviction of breach of copyright, as well as the circumstances that resulted in the Scala’s closure in 1993. Scala!!! screens at 11:05 a.m. Sept. 22 and 1:50 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Alamo South Lamar during Fantastic Fest. Scala!!! represents the first film by Jane Giles and Ali Catterall, the editor of Giles’ book “Scala Cinema 1978-1993.”
Aired: Sept. 20, 2023.