Scalarama 2019

The September Festival celebrating all forms of moving image exhibition returns to Leeds. The city is one of the areas which has an extensive and varied selection of titles; in both theatrical and non-theatrical settings. And the programme offers classics, less-known films, documentaries and animation.

‘Animated in Leeds’ on September 7th at Chapel FM Arts Centre offers a selection of some of the short films made by this pioneering Women’s Collective. The Leeds Animation Workshop has high standards of technical accomplishments and the productions invariably address important social issues.

Cutter’s Way (1981) is what is known as a neo-noir. It features many of the characteristics of the classic film noir. There is the world of chaos into which the protagonist is drawn by the siren call of, here, a mystery rather than a mysterious woman. The  film is in colour but offers many sequences shot in chiaroscuro. And, intriguingly, one could argue that the film offers both a seeker and a victim hero; both caught up in triangular relationships. It screens at the HEART in Headingley on September 9th.

A series of events highlight the film work of Bob Fosse, ‘Fosse in film’. Fosse started out as  performer and dancer and took up stage choreography. He then worked on several Hollywood productions and progressed to direction. He directed five features between 1963 (Sweet Charity) and 1983 (Star). The screenings in the Festival are of this three most famous and successful films.

Cabaret (1972) Thu 12 September at Wardrobe, ST. PETER’S SQUARE      One of the great film musicals and the best film version of Christopher Isherwood’s memoir

Lenny (1974) Sat 14 September @ 10:30 pm. Hyde Park Picture House.       Dustin Hoffman is perfectly cast as the scabrous and subversive stand-up comic Lenny Bruce. The film is beautifully shot in black and white by Bruce Surtees. [Unfortunately the Sunday screening is gone!]

All That Jazz (1979) with post film discussion on Bob Fosse and Power & Exploitation     Thu 26 September @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm                         Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Riley Theatre, 98 Chapeltown Road. Fosse uses his own life and experiences to present the story of a Broadway director, choreographer and film director (Roy Scheider). The parts are better than the whole with some brilliantly staged sequences.

To celebrate Babylon’s recent U.S. release, and commemorate the Windrush generation, we’re holding a special screening of Franco Rosso’s film, followed by a DJ set …

Babylon(1980) Tue 17 September @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm   Square Chapel Arts Centre, 10 Square Road.                                                                                 A seminal film on black culture set in the 1980s. Directed by an Italian film-maker who had already made a documentary about the infamous ‘Mangrove 9’ case. The eye of an outsider brings a distinct sensibility to a world that British cinema had yet to address in a meaningful way.

A series of short films on life and art and music of Palestinians in Palestine and exile today: as their struggle for National Liberation continues.

Films include Colours of Resistance about art and music of Palestinians trying to retain their identity with a country that is being deprived of its right to exist, Palestine Underground showing the music and hip-hop scene in Ramallah and Made  in Palestine.                                                       Tue 24 September @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm  LS-Ten Skatepark, Unit 1 Kitson Rd, Leeds.

If you want more information or to check our other parts of the programme visit the Leeds Web Pages.

If you are away from Leeds there maybe Scalarama where you are going, so check out the National Web Pages.

2 thoughts on “Scalarama 2019

  1. LENNY:
    A great treat to see this late night showing on 35mm, part of a Bob Fosse season, about anti-establishment comedian Lenny Bruce (a possibly mis-cast Hoffman); a pity that only half a dozen people turned out. That didn’t stop Mashiya, the programmer, giving a heartfelt introduction in which she (rightly) praised Valerie Perrine’s performance as Honey, Bruce’s often befuddled but always charming and vivacious lover and wife, and pointed out that Fosse’s first non-musical picture features rhythmic, almost percussive editing. She also revealed the useful nugget that Fosse himself played the interviewer in the mock documentary scenes in which Honey and others tell their versions of events.
    To that I’d add that the editing is indeed bold and special, with one exceptional moment—an excruciating gig in which a stoned Bruce mumbles incoherently for what seems like an age is filmed in a single long shot.
    And that, while this isn’t a musical, there are plentiful musical interludes of swinging jazz.
    And that the many on-stage scenes act much like the musical numbers in Cabaret: signposting the themes to watch out for in the continuing story of Bruce’s life. They are shot in especially bold black and white. But it’s all shot in a heightened way, not as full-on chiaroscuro as when the stage lights are on but enough to enhance the tragic feel. For this is a classical tragedy, with a sympathetic but flawed hero doomed by his own weaknesses to be laid low.


    A gritty, low-budget film set among the West Indian people of Brixton (London is wonderfully realised and vivid here). We follow a group of lads trying to run a sound, with much squabbling amongst themselves. They’re not particularly pleasant characters, few around here are, but we come to love them after a fashion as we share in their setbacks. Life in the community is hard, racism is pervasive, violence and police brutality are part of the fabric. Fortunately, so is music, and the killer reggae soundtrack, bursting with incredible roots rockers and dub, make Babylon, against the odds, a joyous experience. Particularly noteworthy is an appearance by Jah Shaka at a dance—incredible that he is still going strong, playing 6-hour sets on his own, nearly 40 years later.
    This is another one that is more relevant to our times in the UK than we’d like, with our divided society, increasing resentment towards immigrants, run down neighbourhoods, and oppressive hardship for many. There’s a more subtle indictment of our times as well: where are today’s low-budget films by working class directors? Where are our British films featuring predominantly black casts?
    Shown as part of Scalarama in the Hyde Park Book Club, with a reggae DJ set to follow. There was an intro from the programmer: she told us about Franco Rosso, an Italian immigrant previously known for documentaries about immigrant groups, and certainly this background shows through here. She also mentioned that Shaka, that wily renaissance man, directed his own scene, which is the climax to the film.


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