Matchbox Cineclub Online: Tales from Winnipeg

Matchbox Cineclub launch online and internationally with Guy Maddin, Ela Orleans and John Paizs exclusives

We are thrilled to announce our new online platform, launching with a trip to weirdest Canada with our inaugural programme, Tales from Winnipeg. Following our contribution to Glasgow Short Film Festival’s DIVE IN Cinema project, this marks a significant step for us into the world of screening films online. The four-day online event celebrates the output of the legendary, renegade Winnipeg Film Group, with exclusives from icons of cult cinema Guy Maddin and John Paizs. The season runs online at talesfromwinnipeg.eventive.org from August 28th to 30th, with a new film premiering each day and remaining available for the duration of the programme.

Tales from Winnipeg opens with Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee, presented with Ela Orleans’ director-approved re-score, commissioned by Matchbox Cineclub in 2017. Ela will perform a live set via Zoom before the film debuts. Guy Maddin will introduce the film, and joins Ela in conversation afterwards. John Paizs’ cult classic Crime Wave joins the line-up on Saturday, with the online debut of Toronto International Film Festival’s 2K restoration – the beloved film has never looked or sounded better. The 2017 documentary Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group debuts on Sunday evening, framed with an introduction and post-screening conversation with directors Kevin Nikkel and Dave Barber. All films in the programme come with brand-new, director-approved subtitles for D/deaf audiences.

The Tales from Winnipeg programme is full of specially-curated bonus content, in the form of pre-show reels, introductions, live performances, Q&As and short films. Matchbox Cineclub have also produced an accompanying print publication, featuring brand-new artwork by Paizs and Maddin, new poster illustrations by Glasgow-based artist Marc Baines, an exclusive interview with Guy Maddin, an article by Geoff Pevere on John Paizs and Crime Wave, and newly-commissioned writing by director and Winnipeg Cinematheque programmer Dave Barber.

Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee

Matchbox Cineclub programmer Sean Welsh says, “When the pandemic hit, like everyone else, we found our entire upcoming slate wiped clean. As independent exhibitors, we face a longer journey back to normal than cinemas do, since socially distant events are much less viable for us. At the same time, we can take the opportunity to explore all the new possibilities that online events offer, particularly in terms of accessibility and international reach. We’re very excited to present this first programme with optional captions/SDH throughout, and for the first time we can offer French subtitles on our feature presentations too. We’re also thrilled to work with some of our heroes, Guy Maddin, Ela Orleans and John Paizs, to present their work online for the first time in the best way possible.”

Weekend Passes, which grant unlimited access to all films, additional content and a physical copy of the print publication, are £20. Individual tickets to a single film for a limited period are priced on a pay-what-you-can-afford sliding-scale ticket from £0-8, with reference to Matchbox’s Sliding Scale Guide. The programme is available to audiences everywhere, with the exception of North America.


Tickets for Tales from Winnipeg are on sale via Eventive here.

Buy the Tales from Winnipeg zine (free for weekend pass holders) here.

Keep up-to-date with the Tales from Winnipeg Facebook event page here.

The season is part of Film Feels Connected, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Explore all films and events at filmfeels.co.uk.

The season is supported by Film Feels Connected, Film Hub Scotland and the High Commission of Canada in the UK. #CanadaGoesDigital

Scalarama 2020: Accessibility

This month, we invited Alison Smith, Charlotte Little and Andrew Miller to discuss making events accessible for all audiences.

This month, we hosted a roundtable for Scalarama Glasgow to discuss how organisations, independent exhibitors and programmers can ensure their events, both online and IRL, are accessible to disabled audiences. We invited Alison Smith (Pesky People), Charlotte Little (Film journalist for Flip Screen and UK Film Review) and Andrew Miller (UK Government Disability Champion Arts & Culture and Chair of BFI’s Disability Screen Advisory Forum). Our guests spoke about how organisations can sincerely build in accessability for D/deaf and disabled audiences throughout their events and the ways in which the COVID19 pandemic has exacerbated inaccessability.

You know, that whole fear of missing out? Well, we’re getting it in spades.” Alison Smith, on disabled audiences and online activities.

The sessions highlighted that the pandemic possess a real threat to the progress made in the UK in regards to disablity access to arts and disabled representation. Including serious issues with the UK Cinema Assocations re-opening guidelines, considerations to be taken for audiences who find communcation with mask-wearers difficult and some handy tips on how to bake-in accessible provisons from the planning stages onwards.

You can watch the entire roundtable here (embedded above, with subtitles), read the transcript here or browse the minutes here

Scalarama Glasgow’s monthly roundtables continue online (for now). Follow Scalarama Glasgow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date.

The next monthly roundtable, focussing the independent exhibitor’s timeline for returning to events, will be on Sunday 9th August, on Zoom. Details via the Facebook page, here.

Scalarama in Scotland is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI. 

The Obsession of John Paizs

John Paizs is a legendary figure in Canadian cinema whose pivotal and influential cult masterpiece Crime Wave (1985) continues to entrance audiences but elude mainstream recognition. Following our UK premiere of the restored Crime Wave at Glasgow Film Festival, 2017, we are delighted to present his first major work, The Obsession of Billy Botski, on its 40th anniversary, as part of Glasgow Short Film Festival’s DIVE IN Cinema season. Watch it now here.

In The Obsession of Billy Botski, “a young man meets his obsession, a ghostly 60s Playboy-bunny styled “Connie”, and is never the same!”

The film is accompanied by The Obsession of John Paizs, a brand-new 26min video created by Matchbox Cineclub, featuring a rare and exclusive interview with Paizs himself. Our DIVE IN programme is live for only 48 hours from 10am on 18th July, and The Obsession of John Paizs will not be available anywhere afterwards. The entire programme features all-new optional English SDH/captions for D/deaf audiences, created by Matchbox Cinesub.

DIVE IN Cinema is a donation-based online season, coordinated by Glasgow Short Film Festival’s Sanne Jehoul and programmed by a cohort of Scottish independent exhibitors and film festivals.

Thanks to John Paizs, Winnipeg Film Group and VUCAVU. 

The Winnipeg Film Group, founded in 1974, is an artist-run education, production, exhibition and distribution centre committed to promoting the art of cinema. 

VUCAVU is an online screening platform working with independent film and video distributors from across Canada to improve access to Canadian works and to provide greater national and international awareness of Canadian filmmakers and video artists. 

DIVE IN Cinema is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI.

Scalarama 2020: Inclusion

We invited We Are Parable, Watershed, Umulkhayr Mohamed and Inclusive Cinema to discuss making programming and organisations sincerely inclusive

This month, we hosted a roundtable for Scalarama Glasgow to discuss how organisations, independent exhibitors and programmers can work to make their programmes and events sincerely inclusive. We invited Anthony Andrews (We Are Parable), Umulkhayr Mohamed (freelance consultant, writer, curator), Clare Reddington (Bristol’s Watershed) and Toki Allison (Film Hub Wales’ Inclusive Cinema). dardishi, originally billed, were unfortunately unable to take part due to illness. Our invited guests spoke on their work for and with Black and ethnic minority audiences, their experience of institutional racism and the increasing demand for sincere and lasting change to take hold in our industry. Resources were shared to help educate, interrogate our institutions and inform develop practical ways to overhaul the sector.

This session highlighted some of the fundamental changes that need to occur to sincerely undermine oppressive and racist systems which underpin the film exhibition sector, and which make it near-impossible for Black and minority ethnic practitioners to progress with parity, professionally. These include debunking the concept of whiteness as the neutral state, professionalism (“Western professionalism is rooted in white supremacy”), increasing personal and organsational accountability, and addressing the pressures put on non-white staff and colleagues to deal with institutional, white racism.

You can watch the entire roundtable here (embedded above, with subtitles), read the transcript here or browse the minutes here

Scalarama Glasgow’s monthly roundtables continue online (for now). Follow Scalarama Glasgow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date.

The next monthly roundtable, focussing on accessibility for online and IRL screenings takes place on Sunday 19th July, on Zoom. Details via the Facebook page, here.

Scalarama in Scotland is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI. 

KeanuCon 2020 Zine

KeanuCon 2020, our second annual Keanu Reeves film festival, was cancelled due to COVID-19 – so we made this 28-page zine instead, with contributions from the world’s foremost Keanu aficionados.

The KeanuCon 2020 zine is here! It’s free to all weekend-pass-holders-that-were and £5 from our online shop, here.

As originally intended, this publication would have accompanied our second annual Keanu Reeves film festival, KeanuCon 2020, scheduled to take place 19th-21st June at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. Although the festival was ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19, we are very happy to be able to share this celebratory collection of Keanu-themed writing and artwork with you. This first KeanuCon zine is dedicated to every scientist, doctor, nurse and front-line worker currently saving our world.

The zine features 28 pages of Keanu goodness, featuring brand-new artwork from Vero Navarro and writing and articles by Bim Adewunmi (Thirst Aid Kit), Claire Biddles (FWYL), Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris (For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves), Will Harris (Mixed Race Superman), Nichole Perkins (Thirst Aid Kit) AND “Keanu as Disney Princes” colouring-in pages by Crystal Ro.

We’re really happy with how it turned out and we hope you’ll enjoy it too. KeanuCon will return. In the meantime – be excellent to each other.

Thanks to Ex Why Zed for a typically brilliant job on the printing, and yes, we will have prints of Vero’s beautiful cover artwork before too long too. 

Scalarama 2020: Film Exhibition Online

We invited AGFA, Arrow Video, Factory25, Modern Films, Northwest Film Forum and Spectacle Theater to discuss models for online screenings

Last week, we hosted a roundtable for Scalarama Glasgow to discuss different models for screening films independently online. We invited a variety of guests with recent experience delivering programmes online in various contexts, including New York’s Spectacle Theater, whose team of volunteers usually deliver their programme to a maximum of 35 people in their Brooklyn microcinema and now curate Twitch streams for hundreds of people at a time.

We also welcomed the American Genre Film Archive, based in Austin, Texas, who work with and advise distributors and exhibitors, as well as producing their own content, and Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, who have developed their own timed screening format for rentals, including the online debut of Paul Bartel’s “lost” final film, Shelf Life.

We also invited distributors like Arrow Video, based in UK but distributing internationally, Factory25, whose recent Other Music documentary was released in collaboration with a variety of independent organisations, and the UK’s Modern Films, who have quickly pivoted to their own online release platform, working with a variety of exhibitors.

You can watch the entire roundtable here (embedded above, with subtitles), read the transcript here or browse the minutes here

Scalarama Glasgow’s monthly roundtables continue online (for now). Follow Scalarama Glasgow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date.

The next monthly roundtable, focussing on accessibility for online and IRL screenings takes place on Sunday 21st June, on Zoom. Details via the Facebook page, here.

Scalarama in Scotland is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI. 

Don’t Let it Break Your Heart: Film Programmer Kier-La Janisse In Conversation

Legendary film programmer Kier-La Janisse joined us for a conversation on her career in cult film, from basement screenings to international film festivals and beyond

Fearless film programmer and Matchbox hero Kier-La Janisse joined us last week via Zoom to discuss her inspirational career in cinema. In a two-hour conversation, Kier-La very generously held forth on everything from her zine editing to basement horror screenings; to founding the CineMuerte film festival; to programming the Alamo Drafthouse; to running her own micro cinema; to publishing her landmark memoir House of Psychotic Women; to launching her own publishing house, Spectacular Optical.

Kier-La shared the secrets of her Cannibal Holocausticles, her Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine (more on that and the scene around it in Donna de Ville’s dissertation, The Microcinema Movement and Montreal), and her hilariously ill-fated stint as a scout for Drafthouse Films. We also heard some of the highlights of her career in genre film programming, including screening Until the Light Takes Us onto a screen made of snow in the dead of the Canadian winter, hosting Deep End in a swimming pool surrounded with electrical equipment and recruiting Udo Kier to help live dub an unsubtitled print of Black Bell of the Tarantula.

Watch our Kier-La Janisse-inspired playlist

We also had a chance to quiz the veteran programmer on the ethics of film programming, the evolution of horror fandom, her advice for aspiring programmers and some of her favourite films – including some of her most memorable screenings, her wishlist and the ones that got away.

You can watch the whole conversation on our Vimeo page here, or YouTube here, or you can read the transcript here.


Scalarama Glasgow’s monthly roundtables continue online (for now). Follow Scalarama Glasgow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date.

The next monthly roundtable takes place on Sunday 24th May, on Zoom. Details via the Facebook page, here.

Scalarama in Scotland is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI. 

spectacularoptical.ca
miskatonicinstitute.com
severin-films.com

KeanuCon 2020 Cancelled

Our second annual Keanu Reeves Film Festival has been cancelled until further notice due to COVID-19 – refunds will be issued automatically, full details below

We are very sad to announce that KeanuCon will not take place as planned in 2020. Refunds will take place automatically and weekend pass holders have been informed directly. We plan to relaunch KeanuCon IRL in 2021, dates TBC. If you have any questions after reading all of the details below, get in touch: info@matchboxcineclub.com.

Please enjoy this special memory of our Wyld Stallyns performing live at KeanuCon 2019 and Be Excellent To Each Other until further notice.

We have/had been working hard on alternative plans, including rescheduled dates for later in 2020, which is one reason why updates have been scarce as goalposts continually shifted, but it’s become clear that despite our best efforts and hopes, the festival will be impossible to deliver this year (more detail below).

We are looking at the best ways to bring everyone together to celebrate Keanu online (watch this space for those), around the original dates, and we’re happy to say weekend pass holders will all receive our KeanuCon brochure/zine, with new and exclusive content from Vero Navarro (beloved KeanuCon illustrator), Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris (For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves), Will Harris (Mixed Race Superman) and more TBC.

NB The brochure/zine will go out to all weekend pass holders, regardless of automatic refunds. If you would like to waive your refund by way of donation to support Matchbox Cineclub/KeanuCon, thank you very much and please get in touch here: info@matchboxcineclub.com.

In more detail:

Our original dates in June are impossible to deliver due to the current circumstances (our venue, CCA Glasgow, is closed until July at the earliest). We had confirmed rescheduled dates in August, but these are now unviable since CCA will be closed until the end of July at the earliest, with no way of knowing with any certainty that it will reopen fully in August. This makes it difficult for us to plan and promote the event in good faith, or for audience members to make plans to attend.

CCA is smaller in capacity than mainstream cinemas. Even when mainstream cinemas re-open (no earlier than July 4th, and still contingent on a significant reduction in confirmed cases of COVID-19), they will have to adhere to the COVID-19 Secure guidelines, which at present involve distancing between individuals, enhanced hygiene and limiting numbers of people in any one space. This will impact events like ours even more severely again, since we have a lower capacity to begin with. Clearing and cleaning the theatre space between screening will make back-to-back screenings and day-long events next to impossible to deliver practically and safely, for audiences and staff.

Additionally, CCA’s theatre has a capacity of 150, which would potentially be reduced to 50 under these guidelines. We already have sold in excess of 50 weekend passes and we’d expect to sell out the venue in normal circumstances. The costs involved in venue hire, film licences, marketing and everything else involved couldn’t be covered with an audience of only 50 without dramatically impacting ticket prices. 50 attendees would make for an intimate and certainly fun event, but sadly wouldn’t be practical financially (NB at the best of times no other local cinemas could accomodate KeanuCon without charging an impossible fee).

Finally, while we are optimistic that more activity will be possible towards the end of the year (including our rescheduled Remakesploitation Fest), CCA has a full calendar at the best of times and even if we were 100% confident of being able to deliver KeanuCon to the standard and capacity it deserves, there simply aren’t dates available to us for the rest of the year, among events that were already booked and those that have been rescheduled since the advent of COVID-19 (assuming, of course, any of these will be able to take place anyway).

We’re very sad about it, but know that we’ll get through this and celebrate (Keanu) together before too long.

KeanuCon will return x

Kier-La Janisse in Conversation

The legendary film writer, programmer and general hero of cult cinema worldwide joins us for an online discussion about her work in independent film exhibition

Legendary film programmer, writer, producer, director Kier-La Janisse is joining us on Sunday 10th May, via Zoom/Facebook Live, for a Scalarama conversation about her career in cinema – from video shop to pop-up events to film festivals to cinemas and beyond. Janisse has long been an inspiration and a guiding light for independent programmers and cult exhibitors like Matchbox, so we’re thrilled to get the chance to talk to her about her ethos and her experiences screening films.

The discussion will take place on Zoom, hosted by Matchbox Cineclub’s Sean Welsh, with a small audience of film programmers, curators and writers, and streamed simultaneously on Facebook. If you’d like to participate directly, send us a message here or via email: info@matchboxcineclub.com. We’ll keep an eye on any points raised on the live Facebook stream, so feel free to pose questions there instead. The conversation will be archived and subtitled for access afterwards. Full details here.

Kier-La Janisse (photo courtesy of Kier-La Janisse)

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, founder of Spectacular Optical Publications and The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival (1999-2005) in Vancouver, was the Festival Director of Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005).

She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012) and contributed to Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), Recovering 1940s Horror: Traces of a Lost Decade (Lexington, 2014), The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (University of Toronto Press, 2015) and We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale (PS Press, 2017).

She co-edited (with Paul Corupe) and published the anthology books KID POWER! (2014), Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (2015), Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin (2017) and Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television (2017). She edited the book Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive (forthcoming), and is currently co-authoring (with Amy Searles) the book ‘Unhealthy and Aberrant’: Depictions of Horror Fandom in Film and Television and co-curating (with Clint Enns) an anthology book on the films of Robert Downey, Sr., as well as writing a monograph about Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter.

She was a producer on Mike Malloy’s Eurocrime: the Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s and Sean Hogan’s We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea and her first film as director/producer, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is due out from Severin Films in 2020.

www.spectacularoptical.ca
www.miskatonicinstitute.com
www.severin-films.com

Interview: John Paizs on Crime Wave

Brian Beadie interviewed director John Paizs on his cult classic debut Crime Wave, on the occasion of the tour we organised for Scalarama 2018

One of the absolute highlights of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival was Crime Wave, an unduly neglected Canadian comedy from 1985 which, despite being over 30 years old, emerged as one of the freshest and one of the funniest films to be shown at the festival. The film was programmed by Sean Welsh of Matchbox Cineclub who, after its rapturous reception at the festival, is bringing the film back for a limited engagement for Scalarama.

Crime Wave is as visually inventive and playfully pomo as an early Coen Brothers or Sam Raimi film (no, it’s not the film they collaborated on), but its director, John Paizs, would never make it big, despite being part of the innovative Winnipeg Film Group, whose other alumni include Guy Maddin. I would go so far to say that I prefer his dark comedy on the perils of scriptwriting to the Coens’ take on the same subject, Barton Fink – it’s far less pretentious, and has far more charm.

To give you an idea of the hectic invention of the film, here’s Paizs describing the film’s genesis:

“You could say it was a slight exercise in making lemonade from lemons. I was feeling pressured because I’d just written two feature length screenplays I wasn’t happy with, one of them called Crime Wave — a completely different story — and the other, Crazy Casey. Then one night at this time, sitting at my kitchen table, in front of a blank page, I just started writing ‘THE TOP!,’ and wrote out the rest of what would become the opening narration to this second go at Crime Wave. In a jokey way, it was expressing exactly my big secret dream for myself at this time with this new movie — which was to be a big success with it, bursting onto the scene — FROM THE NORTH! Ha — OK — scene one. Then, what next? Well, often when you hit the ground running like that in a story, it turns out that that opening bit was a dream, or something staged in the story, or just otherwise not ‘real’.”

John Paizs as Steven Penny in Crime Wave

“And so I thought — well, it could have been the opening scene to a movie that someone had written — like me. OK, so what next? OK — now, in Crazy Casey, I had a guy staying in an apartment over this family’s garage, and the family included a daughter, Casey, late teens, and the guy, who’s a freshman in college, has a thing for her — and next thing, that got reversed, she has a thing for him, she’s now ten, her name is Kim, and he’s a wannabe filmmaker — Steven Penny — who’s just capable of writing fun crap like we’d just seen opening this new Crime Wave. OK, so she comes on in scene two, she’s just finishing reading what we’d just seen in scene one, which is the beginning to one of Steven’s discarded screenplays, all of them called Crime Wave, and, breaking the fourth wall, she tells us about it. OK, so then what? Well, how about then she starts reading the ending to this same discarded Crime Wave, and we jump to that? More fun crap. And then — and this may have been my best idea in all of this new Crime Wave — we come back to her, in scene four, and she says that Steven’s problem is he can’t write middles! Boom. Writer’s block comedy. At that point I knew what it was I was writing. I didn’t know it until then. That’s when I found it out. And that’s what I went ahead and wrote.”

What Paizs wrote was a wildly unpredictable comedy with a shockingly high gag rate, taking potshots at everything from film form to current fads of the eighties – you can almost feel his delight in coming up with more outlandish scenarios, throwing in everything from self-help to the death of Sid Vicious into the mix.

“I never had a method for writing screenplays in those days beyond start with the title, then just jump right into it, no outline, no treatment, just make it up as I go along. And sometimes it would turn out more like a traditional dramatic narrative, and sometimes it wouldn’t, like Crime Wave. But I was never conscious of it being one way or the other at any point. I never thought hardly at all about what I was doing. I just did it. And then, when I got to the end of each script, that was it. No second draft, no revisions pretty much. I’d just apply for grant money to make the movie and that was that. So I guess it’s no wonder Crime Wave turned out the way it did, from a story standpoint. I just did what I liked, wrote scenes that I thought were original and funny, and didn’t think hardly at all about whether they advanced the plot or anything like that. Though actually there was one idea I brought to that script that I hadn’t brought to the others before it: and that was to keep the scenes short, and to keep cycling through the same like four or five types of them — a narrated scene, followed by an action scene, followed by a music scene, followed by a dialogue scene, then back to a narrated scene — that kind of thing, over and over, in a loop. I tried my best to make it that way, to keep things hopping like that, to keep the film hopefully jumping off the screen. I was determined not to repeat my huge mistake of my film just previous to Crime Wave, which was practically nonstop dialogue. Crime Wave was supposed to have learned from that one and be fun and alive.”

Indeed, most of the biggest laughs in the film come from pure sight gags, disrupting the film’s lush but highly controlled visual style, a reflection of Paizs’ background as a graphic artist.

“Because I (almost) never move the camera in the movie, it’s like a series of tableaus, or fixed comic strip panels. And I also lit it with hard light, to give it this ‘50s Technicolor look — high contrast and bright saturated colours — which was going directly counter to the prevailing look of movies at this time. So yeah, its visual aesthetic was one of the big things I was selling with it and that was going to be new and exciting about it. Out with the old, in with the new (old), kind of thing.”

Classic slapstick comedy is definitely another influence in play here – indeed, Paizs plays the lead himself, but mute, as a homage to the master of slapstick, Buster Keaton. “I had Buster’s Great Stone Face in mind for my character. It’s something I thought I could put my own spin on, and give the movie another level of originality at the same time because a non-speaking protagonist forces you to think of alternative — and sometimes very unexpected — ways to get ideas across. And also by doing it, I got to be a lead in a movie, and be good at it, with my extremely limited acting ability were I to speak.”

This device allows the film to be narrated in faux-naif style by his landlord’s daughter, who’s got a giant crush on him (a great performance by Eva Kovacs), which leads to another of the film’s influences – Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. “If Uncle Charlie had murdered prose instead of widows it would have been almost the same movie! I got the whole darkness-in-a-small-town framework from that movie, plus the two Charlies’ relationship has a definite parallel to Steven and Kim’s.”

Eva Kovacs on set as Kim in John Paizs’ Crime Wave

So if Crime Wave is so good – and it really is that good – how come you’ve never heard of it, never mind seen it? Paizs explains the reason for the film’s neglect thus:

“It went down amazingly, actually, at festivals, got amazing reviews — like a few of them almost ridiculously full of praise. But what did it in was a nightmare scenario involving the film’s first distributor. The distribution agreement I’d signed with them had a clause in it saying I’d be paid my guaranteed minimum within eighteen months of the film’s first theatrical release, which they tried not to give it! Instead, they just quickly dumped it onto home video and made some quick pay TV sales, and that they hoped was that, saving them a bundle of dough they’d otherwise be paying in advertising, etcetera, never mind my money. Finally, after taking certain actions, I was able to trigger my payment — like three years later — but by this time it was too late for the film, and I was devastated.”

When I saw the film earlier this year, with Paizs in attendance, he looked slightly nervous about the film’s reception – he needn’t have been. It brought the house down. However, he confesses, “I was so worried about how it would go over in Glasgow, for a million reasons, and was so incredibly relieved and delighted about how well it did go over. But what I hope people can appreciate today, whether they like the film or not, is how new and radical it was back in the day, because it was, then. Time may have eroded the perception of that quite a bit, but it was, what can I say.”

I can attest that Crime Wave stands the test of time very well indeed – its wit and playfulness undimmed – as one of the most inventive cinematic debuts of the eighties, and one that richly deserves a wider audience.

Brian Beadie