Continuing our collaboration with Film Fringe, we are delighted to host the launch of Scalarama Leeds – a celebration of independent cinema which runs throughout September. Scalarama Leeds is part of a series of Scalarama events across the globe.
Some of you may have already enjoyed one of our monthly pop-up screenings of classic, rare and independent films, but this event is set to be a special one. We’ll be showing this year’s Scalarama trailer and the captivating movie Jobriath A.D.; there’ll be live music from Leeds band, Das Pain and you can pick up a guide to find out what’s happening across the city during the September festival and plan your own schedule. The night is on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis and there’s no need to book.
In the run-up to the launch, Darren Mills interviewed Laura Ager (LA) and Alice Miller (AM) Film Programmers and Event Organisers, Leeds Film Fringe, and Ian McArdle (IM) Singer, Das Pain to find out more about Film Fringe, Scalarama and the launch at Left Bank Leeds.
Hello, good to meet you all and thanks for taking the time to do the interview.
Left Bank Leeds and Film Fringe have been working together to bring independent and less well-known films to moviegoers for some time. Can you give us an insight into Film Fringe and your activities with Left Bank Leeds?
LA – Film Fringe is a DIY pop-up cinema project, we started doing screenings in 2015 and have steadily increased our productivity ever since!
Our screenings take place in a variety of spaces around Leeds. The first venue we worked with was The Reliance, who fitted out their new private dining room with a projector, black curtains and extra speakers. It’s a really exciting little space, it feels like a secret cinema.
We like to use non-cinema spaces whenever we can because we aim to create a relaxed, sociable and unhurried film experience, as well as generating some discussion amongst the audience after the film. We work with Universities, festivals and lots of other organisations to add films, especially documentaries and so-called specialist films, to cultural events around the city.
Left Bank Cinema enables us to do this kind of work within a terrific venue and we think the building really enhances the film watching experience. It’s a very special kind of environment, people are always amazed the first time they step inside, I love to be there and watch when that happens.
Scalarama is a worldwide event, what’s it all about? How can people get involved?
AM – Scalarama started out as Scala Forever in 2011, a seven-week film season in London celebrating the legendary Scala cinema and its eclectic programming. Since then it’s expanded out across the UK and become a DIY celebration of independent film exhibition, encouraging anyone and everyone to organise a film screening and share their love of cinema with others.
Scalarama aims to bring people together to experience and discover amazing films and to empower people to organise their own film screenings, helping them bring the films they want to see to their community.
There’s still time to get involved with Scalarama. It’s never too late to organise a film screening! If anyone is interested in getting into DIY film exhibition and putting on their own film screenings then do get in touch with us. We’re very happy to give advice, share our experiences, and point people towards helpful resources. Anyone is welcome to pop along to our meetings, even if you just want to have a chat and me meet some like-minded film enthusiasts.
Can you tell us a bit more about the launch night? What do you have planned?
LA – We’ve never held a launch for Scalarama before, so we’re excited about this event. We wanted to make it a bit of a party and to invite local press and bloggers, as well as film fans, to give everyone a little preview of what is coming up in September.
Once we confirmed we’d be screening Jobriath A.D., we came up with the idea of asking Das Pain if they’d be interested in playing some of Jobriath’s songs. I’ve seen the band play in Leeds before, in fact they’ve played at Left Bank once before. What Jobriath was doing with his songwriting is not all that different to some of the Das Pain songs I’ve heard. So they said they’d try some out and the rehearsals have been going well, from what they’ve told me.
We’re also getting a special Scalarama beer made for us by Ridgeside Brewery for the whole season, and Left Bank Leeds will have it first, it will be on the bar for the launch and then it will be working its way around the rest of the Scalarama venues after that!
Scalarama month is great for the Leeds movie scene. Can you give us early sight of some of the films which will be screened during the festival?
AM – There’s such a fantastic spread of films in this year’s Scalarama Leeds programme. A few I’m looking forward to are: Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee’s treatise on American race relations, My Life as a Courgette – a lovely Swiss/French stop-motion animation, and Dementia – a surreal 1950s horror noir!
Laura has helped put together a brilliant series of City Symphony films across various venues, I can’t wait to see those!
LA – There are some great things coming up at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, such as a screening of Inherent Vice, which is part of their popular ‘Philosophy and Film’ series.
The Hyde Park and the Hebden Bridge Picture Houses are also screening silent films with live music, which is an experience that you can also sample at Halifax’s Square Chapel Arts Centre too, when they present the ever-popular Metropolis.
Towards the end of the Scalarama festival, Left Bank Leeds are hosting a screening of a brand new silent film: London Symphony. This will be the film’s first screening in Leeds, it’s really new, it has only just had its UK premiere at Edinburgh Film Festival. The music for this one is going to be part of the film, as it was made to go with the images.
The events I’m really looking forward to are the screenings in unusual spaces, such as the one at Jumbo Records, and at Tall Boys in the Thornton’s Arcade in the city centre. Tall Boys are showing a classic Sunday Western in the afternoon, A Fistful of Dollars, as well as their regular Tall Shorts selection of short films. And the Dennis Skinner film at Outlaw’s Yacht Club looks good.
Das Pain will be performing on the launch night; Ian, how does your music connect with and complement Jobriath A.D.?
IM – I know about Jobriath from listening to his first album around ten years ago. As anybody who has heard/seen Das Pain will know, we love theatricality and we love the juxtaposition of bathos and pathos. Jobriath’s story has all of that in spades. We’re performing some of his songs in a stripped back style because we feel that even when you scrape through all of the space-dust and the glitter, they’re wonderful songs that more people need to hear.
That’s great, thanks again for your time and good luck with Scalarama and your ongoing shows.
The launch night of Scalarama Leeds is at Left Bank Leeds on 23 August from 7-10pm. The event is open to all on a pay as you feel basis. There is no need to book, just turn up and enjoy the film and the music.
With thanks to:
Laura Ager & Alice Miller | Film Programmers and Event Organisers Film Fringe
Ian McArdle | Singer, Das Pain
Text by guest contributor, Darren Mills.