Given that we live in an overpriced sticky-carpeted mega-multiplex age of cinemagoing, it’s always encouraging to see London’s repertory cinemas in such a robust state. Celebrating the best in film-for-film-lovers is Scala Forever, a mammoth collaboration of some of the most acclaimed rep cinemas of the capital in tribute to one of their fallen comrades.
The Scala is known these days as a dingy gig venue and nightclub, but in its heyday it was one of the best-loved independent cinemas in the city, flitting during a 70-year history between arthouse, mainstream and even, at one stage, porn. During the eighties it was renowned for bold and audacious film programming, which ultimately brought about its unlikely demise at the hands of director Stanley Kubrick: a screening of then-banned satire A Clockwork Orange initiated a lawsuit which bankrupted the cinema.
The Scala is gone but SE1′s Roxy Bar and Screen, one of the loveliest indie cinemas around, is organising three months of screenings in acknowledgement of the sterling history of the place, and the legacy it left. Some of London’s most cherished film venues are participating, from established stalwarts like the ICA and the Dalston Rio, as well as summer pop-up screens like the Nomad and Floating Cinema. And the range of films is tremendous, with 65 screenings spanning the breadth of popular film, from the classical Hollywood class of The African Queen to the shamelessly and hilariously indulgent Zombie Flesh Eaters.
Scala Forever has a tantalising programme of movies from the people who know best how to organise one, and film lovers will have trouble resisting the variety of choices. The season begins on the 13th August; rather appropriately, the closing night will be a screening of the no-longer-banned A Clockwork Orange.
Article first appeared on Londonist, July 25th 2011. [Link]