Scalarama, the unofficial month of cinema: Film in unusual venues

Jon Whiteley
Still from martial arts fight

We pick out our highlights of Manchester’s Scalarama programme – from contemporary schlock to martial arts epics.

This September, Scalarama is coming to Manchester, with screens popping up all over the city. What started as a month-long festival of cult cinema in London has grown over the years to take in the whole of the UK – and even some international locations, with temporary cinemas appearing in Europe, Stateside and Africa.

There’s plenty to see at all kinds of unusual venues across the city: Oxford Road gallery the Whitworth is playing host to early martial arts epic Dragon Inn. Released originally in 1967, this is a rare public screening following a fresh restoration for last year’s Cannes Film Festival and is an absolute must-see for cinephiles.

The Whitworth is playing host to early martial arts epic Dragon Inn

Away from high art and high ceilings, nautical-themed basement bar Hold Fast is hosting one of the schlockiest screenings in Manchester, in the shape of 1989 gore-fest Death Spa. It’s also one of the festival’s few free screenings. Northern Quarter cocktail joint Apotheca brings home some more contemporary schlock with the UK premiere of creature feature Mutantis.

On the artsier side, the University of Salford’s Digital Performance Lab is holding I Love the Nightlife; a full evening of queer cinema including director Q&As and a networking breaks. The basement of Princess Street’s Joshua Brooks screens a series of arthouse double bills throughout the month and contemporary underground cinema gets a look-in at Affleck’s micro-theatre 3MT, which holds a night of indie shorts on 30 September.

One of the more conventional venues is HOME, heir to the late Cornerhouse’s indie cinema throne. The team here will be screening jazz documentary Ornette: Made in America on 19 September. So if you’ve got a taste for cult, horror or oddball film you’d do well to seek out these clandestine cinemas this Autumn.

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