Scala (1989) photographer Alan Delaney

Source: Alan Delaney


BFI Distribution has acquired UK-Ireland rights to SCALA!!!, a feature documentary about the legendary London cinema which ran from 1978 to 1993, from production company Fifty Foot Woman. 

The film will make its world premiere in the ’Documents and Documentaries’ section of the 37th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna in Italy this Sunday, June 25.

The full title of the film is SCALA!!! Or, the incredibly strange rise and fall of the world’s wildest cinema and how it influenced a mixed-up generation of weirdos and misfits. Directed by Jane Giles and Ali Catterall in their feature film debut, it is based on Giles’ 2018 book Scala Cinema 1978-1993, and uses archive film, photography, film clips, graphics and animation, plus interviews with 49 Scala audience members, to tell the story of the cinema, which was situated near King’s Cross railway station in London.

Those interviewed for the documentary include John Waters, JoAnne Sellar, Caroline Catz, Ben Wheatley, Ralph Brown, Mary Harron, Adam Buxton, Peter Strickland, Beeban Kidron, Isaac Julien, Stewart Lee; and Stephen Woolley, who managed the cinema at its King’s Cross location from 1981 onwards.

The film is produced by Alan Marke and Jim Reid of Channel X and Andy Starke of Anti-Worlds. It received BFI Doc Society Fund backing, with further funding from a Kickstarter campaign.

“Cinema culture mattered to me growing up in London in the 80s and 90s when it was a window to the world, and there was no greater view than from the Scala,” said Jason Wood, BFI director of public programme and audiences. “The Scala showed that it was OK to like ‘entertainment’, the Avant-Garde and more risqué material. It all carried equal gravitas. SCALA!!! feels like being back in King’s Cross and is the perfect fit for the BFI”.

Giles and Catterall described the film as “a big screen love letter not only to the white goddess of King’s Cross but to the dizzy highs and depraved lows of a universally relatable cinema-going experience. For many disaffected young people, the Scala was a film school, foundation stone, and family. A crucial part of our DNA. A lifeline. A place to come out and stay out, all night long.”