Cage-a-rama 2020 Guests + UK Tour

Black an white image: Nicolas Cage and stand-in Marco Kyris stand together, looking down - Cage holds tissue paper, Marco an empty tin can
Nicolas Cage and Marco Kyris on set

Matchbox Cineclub are pleased to announce Marco Kyris, Nicolas Cage’s official stand-in for over ten years, will attend our third annual Cage-a-rama film festival at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts on 3rd, 4th & 5th January 2020 and afterwards embark on a UK-wide Cage-a-rama: Uncaged tour.

Marco, who worked with Cage on almost 20 films between 1994-2005, will join Lindsay Gibb, Toronto-based author of National Treasure: Nicolas Cage and world-leading Nicolas Cage expert, for an in-conversation event and a screening of Uncaged: A Stand-in Story at CCA Glasgow on Saturday 4th January. Kyris will also introduce several of Cage-a-rama 2020’s films across the festival weekend: Leaving Las Vegas (for which Cage won an Academy Award® for Best Actor), the first of the fan-favourite National Treasure films, and Martin Scorsese’s urban horror Bringing Out the Dead, the latter of which he will introduce alongside journalist Josh Slater-Williams (Sight & Sound, Little White Lies).

Kyris has also guest-programmed a special opening night screening of one of his favourite collaborations with Cage, Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes, followed by a Q&A. Throughout the festival, Marco will be open to any questions about his “Cage Wage” years, and share genuine call-sheets and other Cage memorabilia from his archive – and might be persuaded to part with them if audience members pose good enough questions. Cage-a-rama’s opening night is sponsored by Drygate.

Directors Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) and Stephen Campanelli (Grand Isle) will introduce their films via specially recorded videos. Joining them are Nicolas Cage aficionados from across the globe, including Timon Singh of Bristol Bad Film Club, Torïo Garcia of the Spanish NicCagepedia, and Mike Manzi & Joey Lewandowski, the New Jersey-based hosts of the much-loved #CageClub: The Nicolas Cage Podcast.

Three images featuring Marco Kyris standing in for Nicolas Cage on film sets - The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air. (https://www.mkyris.com/)
Marco Kyris, on the sets of The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air

The subsequent Cage-a-rama 2020 UK Tour will feature a 35mm screening of Con Air at the Genesis Cinema in London on Thursday 9th January, and a 20th-anniversary screening of Gone in 60 Seconds in collaboration with Bristol Bad Film Club at Bristol Improv Theatre on Saturday 11th January. Both screenings will be accompanied by Marco Kyris’s short film, Uncaged: A Stand-In Story, and a post-screening Q&A.

Cage-a-rama 2020 highlights Cage’s relationship with directors: from big guns to young guns, from huge budgets to low ones, from his career’s early days to now. The festival features 10 films over three days, closing with the UK premiere of brand-new Nicolas Cage film Primal (2019), to be released by Lionsgate in February 2020. Sunday 5th January also sees the UK premiere of Grand Isle, which pairs Cage with Kelsey Grammer, set to be released by 101 Films. The rest of the programme features Cage classics from some of his earliest roles, in Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married and Top Gun “homage” Fire Birds, to blockbuster sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets and a midnight screening of Zandalee, his erotic thriller co-starring Judge Reinhold.


Cage-a-rama 2020 Weekend and Day Passes and individual tickets are on sale via Matchbox Cineclub’s online shop. Tickets for Con Air in London are available via Genesis Cinema’s website (genesiscinema.co.uk) and tickets for Gone in 60 Seconds can be purchased via Bristol Improv Theatre (improvtheatre.co.uk).

For the first time, the entire Glasgow Cage-a-rama programme will be open-captioned for D/deaf audiences, and tickets for each film are priced on a sliding scale, £0-8, with reference to our three-tiered guide, so audience members decide what to pay.

Keep up-to-date via the Cage-a-rama 2020 Facebook event

Poster for Cage-a-rama 2020, feauring an illustration of Nicolas Cage climbing Glasgow Cathedral a la King Kong (https://veronavarro.com/)
Illustration by Vero Navarro

Gender expression in Rosa von Praunheim’s cult musical City of Lost Souls

Queer Classics’ Lydia Honeybone on queer kinship in 1980s Berlin counterculture

Growing up in the 1990s, some of my favourite films featured queer characters and, coming out as a teenager, they became my idols. I learnt about queer culture from the drag queens played by Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Robin Williams in The Bird Cage (1996), and Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christian Bale in Velvet Goldmine (1998). But, surprisingly, these roles were all played by straight actors – not a single one of them openly identifies as queer.

I began this blog post thinking I’d write a critical text on issues raised by straight actors playing queer roles and, while I still believe there is a necessary conversation to be held about appropriation, and the need for affirmative action within casting, on re-watching City of Lost Souls (Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen, Rosa von Praunheim, 1983), and looking back at queer/drag on-screen representation, another question arose: how have we arrived at this moment in cinematic history, where we ‘homonormatise’ our on-screen queers?

While it’s commendable that queer characters have moved from supporting roles to centre stage, from the gay sidekick BFF (see Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)), to more fully realised characters (such as Simon in Love, Simon (2018)), these more prominent roles seem to have been made more palatable for a wider audience, a kind of glossing-over. It seems that in the process of moving centre stage, queer on-screen representation has had to be cleaned up and diluted for a wider audience.

Viewing City of Lost Souls, we soon discover there is no attempt to gloss-over or dilute queer experience. This is apparent in the choice of characters themselves, including Angie Stardust, a black trans lesbian woman and Tara O’Hara, a trans sex worker. Then there is Lila, played by Jayne Country, a trans actress/punk musician of the era. Arguably the campest and most fabulous character in the film – as well as the most confusing – I only realised she was playing a cis woman when the character becomes pregnant! City of Lost Souls intentionally fucks with you. It’s challenging, camp, and slapstick.

Between the cabaret numbers and outlandish punk performances, there are few moments that could be described as ‘tender’, but there is one that stands out. In this scene Angie Stardust and Tara O’Hara are getting ready for a night out, reminiscent of the Werk Room on RuPaul’s Drag Race, or the dressing rooms of Paris is Burning (1990), but during this moment, they discuss their gender identities and differing attitudes to gender across their respective generations.

Angie and Tara have a complex exchange about their own gender expressions. Angie is seeking gender-realignment surgery, and is adamant that, in the narrator’s words, she “won’t become an old man”. Tara, of a younger generation, self-identifies as “transvestite”, and “third sex”, not feeling the need for surgery. Identifying as a woman with the anatomy she was born with, Tara accuses Angie of being old-school in her mindset.

City of Lost Souls (Rosa von Praunheim, 1983)

Had she not been murdered in a homophobic attack in 1983, how would Tara O’Hara feel about her gender expression? Would she have found kinship in the ballrooms of 1990s New York, in Paris is Burning, and the legendary mother Pepper LaBejia of the House of LaBejia? Schooling the children, she famously said “having the vagina, that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have a fabulous life”.

Angie is a fierce character throughout, bursting onto the screen in the opening song, telling the staff of the Hamburger Queen to stop messing around and get back to work. In her scene with Tara, this anger is channelled into educating her young prodigy on the struggles the trans community faced, ultimately allowing her to be free in her gender expression. This sensitive and nuanced exchange between these two very different women, is a rare gem of political debate in an otherwise brash, bombastic queer musical!

City of Lost Souls (Rosa von Praunheim, 1983)

The reason this otherwise inconsequential scene stands out for me, is a shocking indication of how little progress we, as queer people, have made when it comes to the wider recognition of gender diversity. I’m left questioning how queer culture has failed to make the gains we looked set to achieve in 1994, when we celebrated Terence Stamp’s portrait of Bernadette, a trans woman who performed ‘womanhood’ in her job as a drag queen in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

It is problematic to hold up RuPaul’s Drag Race as the benchmark by which we judge all representations of queerness on-screen, but with viewer numbers through the roof, 13 Emmys and a growing international fanbase, Mama Ru has reached audiences previously unimaginable to drag queens. For many people RuPaul’s Drag Race is queer culture. But, with their questionable stance on trans inclusivity and homogenised beauty standards, is Drag Race partly responsible for the ‘homonormativity’ we find across queer popular culture today? How have we strayed so far from the ’80s/’90s queer representation that was so gender fluid and wholly inclusive?

This is what makes revisiting City of Lost Souls so exciting and utterly pertinent. It is a chance to enter into an absurd world of queer kinship, where a trans woman plays the role of a woman assigned female at birth, a drag queen self identifies as “the third sex” and her best friend is a black, trans, lesbian who reigns over their household as a fierce matriarch. The rules of gender are broken and rebuilt in our viewing of this bizarre, queer extravaganza, about love, rejection, violence and self-expression.

City of Lost Souls never achieved the box-office success of Priscilla, or even the cult status of Paris is Burning, but it is an incredible reflection of the Berlin underground in the 1980s. Indeed, perhaps its relative obscurity allowed it to be so subversive.

Tangerine (Sean Baker, 2015)

Ultimately, I hope Hollywood casting directors will realise that they need to do better and start casting queer people in queer roles (like the brilliantly-cast Tangerine (2015)). Until then, maybe we will need to keep looking to the margins to find our contemporary queer idols.

Lydia Honeybone

Matchbox Cineclub and Queer Classics present City Of Lost Souls at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow on Monday 18th November, as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO. bfimusicals.co.uk

Tickets are priced on a sliding scale £0-8, and are available exclusively here.

Three of the Apocalypse

Reptilian aliens, shoegaze and the end of the world. Diet Soda Cineclub’s Teri Williams sets up our upcoming co-screening of Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy

Is Gregg Araki the patron saint of the alienated teen? His work, which now spans over three decades, has helmed a wave of new queer cinema that began with radical low budget films like The Living End and is now cutting through the abundant noise of shiny teen TV drama with the excellent Now Apocalypse, a hark to the trilogy that arguably started this whole beautiful mess: the Teen Apocalypse Trilogy. So pucker up, light up, and read on to find out more about how the godfather of rebellious youth framed a generation in neon rainbow colours that remains ever so relevant in this strange, doom-laden landscape we’re living in right now.

Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere were made and released in the mid-90s, when tie-dye and inflatable furniture was in, and Gen Z queer icons Amandla Stenberg, Chloe Grace Moretz and Hunter Schafer were mere twinkles in their parents’ eyes. It’s arguable to say that these three films, and Gregg’s subsequent features like Mysterious Skin and Kaboom! paved the way for a plethora of queer and teen-centric media today. He’s even had a guest director spot on a few episodes of 13 Reasons Why, one of the most talked about teen TV shows of recent times.

The Teen Apocalypse Trilogy was never seen as a critical success. Maybe because most of the film reviewers assessing them at the time were deliberately far removed from the worlds shown on screen – there’s nothing a middle-aged white man hates more than teen disenchantment, disengagement, disaffection. Not to mention all of that ambiguous sexuality, questions of gender identity and complete disregard for populist politics and society. Gregg’s films depict utter doom in the purest sense, where teens find themselves facing alienation and actual aliens, out to pull them free from the crazy world they’re struggling to fit into.

The first film in the trilogy, aptly titled Totally Fucked Up, stars Araki-darling James Duval, who we see throughout a large number of Gregg’s work. His inky black eyes, pouty mouth and Keanu-hair make him an instant pin up in the franchise, but what makes James stand out is his flat, carefree valleyboy accent, often used as narration, particularly in his starring role in Nowhere. He is part of a group of six young gay teenagers who have come together as a family of misfits. Largely filmed with a handheld video camera, the movie has a grainy, homemade quality to it reminiscent to the early work of the great John Waters, and as intimate as the talking head portions of modern reality TV.

The Doom Generation, which is a roadtrip movie, stars Rose McGowan and her iconic Mia Wallace haircut, hurtling through the desolate landscape of nighttime LA with boyfriend Jordan (James Duval) and new arrival X (Jonathon Schaech). Their blossoming triage-ship is wrought with jealousy, confusion, and terrifying encounters throughout the way,

The third film, Nowhere, showcases Gregg’s obsession with alienation in a comically literal sense. Its bisexual hero, again played by James Duval, is on a manic search for the alien race who is taking over his community and friends, stalking him as he navigates his failing relationship with girlfriend Mel and falling for new town arrival Montgomery.

So there you have it. Three films – a portrait movie, a roadtrip movie, and a sci-fi fantasy – each exploring themes of existential doom and teenage heartbreak that, each with their own rad, acidic soundtrack and palette of blindingly neon colours, paved the way for a multitude of queer cinema that celebrates the weird and subversive, an aloof middle finger to the mainstream. And maybe that’s what we need to celebrate right now.

Teri Williams


Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy screens at the CCA Glasgow as part of Scalamara Glasgow on Thursday 26th September, 2019. Buy tickets here.

A Basic Guide to Social Media for Film Screenings

Basic principles, dos and don’ts and tips for promoting your film screenings online

ingrid
Detail from the poster for Ingrid Goes West (Matt Spicer, 2017)

This is intended to provide basic principles and practical tips for making the best use of social media, as an independent film exhibitor. It’s not intended to be definitive, or a magic wand to conjure likes, shares and follows. Different things will work for different exhibitors and different events. If you have any tips or advice to add, please let us know!

Basic Social Media Dos

  • Have a clear identity for your page
  • Have a clear idea who you want to appeal to
  • Be concise – keep it short and economical
  • Be as visual as possible
  • Be discoverable – use hashtags (appropriately)
  • Be responsive – if people engage with your posts, engage with them – and reply to queries ASAP.
  • Be a real person – e.g. post a picture of you putting up a poster, rather than the poster itself
  • Use active language and calls-to-arms (Buy, try, “get tickets”, “check this out”)
  • Post regularly (keeping in mind the requirements of each platform)
  • Tailor/adapt your content and tone for different platforms
  • Pay attention to what works well for you, your page and your events
  • Research – see what other exhibitors, venues, platforms are doing that works and suits you
  • Experiment – most platforms share information with you so you can easily find what works and what doesn’t
  • Develop a strategy based on all of the above
  • Plan and schedule posts
  • Ask people or accounts to share your content and share theirs

Basic Social Media Don’ts

  • Post/talk only about yourself/your event(s)
  • Panic cluster-post at the last minute
  • Tag random (or friendly but not immediately relevant) people or accounts in tweets and/or pictures
  • Re-use (i.e. steal) content without attribution
  • Overuse hashtags, especially “comedy” hashtags

Content | Always ask the distributor if they have marketing material available. This can include stills, posters, trailers, press releases which you can draw quotes and/or additional information from, and also any guidance to follow, especially if it’s a new or recent release – much better to adhere to their release campaign strategy, if there is one. If it’s an older film, you should still ask if there’s material available. There are also various resources online. Look for the website of the marketing team company, if there is one, which often will host marketing materials for download. For posters in particular, try wrongsideoftheart.com, impawards.com or cinematerial.com (the latter requires a small subscription fee). Don’t use images or material from other people’s screenings, at least without permission.

Presentation | You can optimise your images for presentation on the various platforms (i.e. a portrait-oriented poster won’t display fully on Twitter). Twitter now offers automatic cropping of your images in three styles on its new desktop version. Otherwise, you can make reference to the Always Up-To-Date spreadsheet for social media image sizes, which will give you the right sizes for various uses across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr. There’s also a free-to-use online re-sizing tool, Landscape, which you can instruct to automatically resize and download images you upload to whatever specifications you need. Sprout Social have produced guides on presentation for images (here) and videos (here).

Any links you use, you can trim so that they don’t display all the unnecessary detail and they will still work. E.g. “https:// matchboxcineclub.com/weird-weekend” can become “matchboxcineclub.com/weird-weekend” and still work as a hot link on all social media platforms. Better yet, you can sign up for a free bitly.com account and, if they’re not already taken, create shortened links, with customised back-halfs, for free. E.g. bit.ly/WEIRDWEEKEND. On Facebook, you can also tag your events in posts the way you would a person, typing @ followed with the event name to find it.

Finally, you know how sometimes a link from another website won’t present properly, i.e. with no image, or the wrong image? That’s often because it’s never been shared before, and you can get around that by testing the link with Facebook’s debugger or Twitter’s card validator.

Timing/frequency | To boil it right down – post once or twice a day on Facebook, a similar frequency for Instagram and as often as you like on Twitter. Facebook in particular would like to encourage you to pay to boost posts or create sponsored posts, so it’s designed to discourage a wide audience for anything you share that involves a ticket link or an event page. You’re less restricted in posting Stories. Likewise, you have freer rein when posting in Facebook event pages – and it’s a good way to keep people interested between announcing your event and it happening. Beware over-posting, though, because non-stop notifications for attendees can be a drag. Getting the best from Twitter requires investment of your time above all else. A tweet has a half-life of about 30 minutes and to get people to engage with your posts, you also need to engage with theirs. In all cases, its good to share content that isn’t about you or (directly) about your event.

You can also use some statistical information to guide when to get the best response from your posts – Sprout Social (NB otherwise a subscription service) offers some insights for the various platforms. Read their “Best times to post on Social Media for 2019” post here.

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Subtitles/Captions | Providing these is necessary to make your posts accessible. It’s also a very basic way to increase engagement, since videos are automatically muted on most platforms. Subtitles draw people in. Facebook and YouTube will auto-generate subtitles which you can then edit, or you can upload them as a separate file. There are also ways to create subtitle files separately and burn them into the video. For more advice on any of that, email info@matchboxcineclub.com. Free subtitling software includes: Aegisub, AmaraBelle Nuit Subtitler and Subtitle Edit (Windows only).

NB “Subtitles” describe what’s spoken, while “Captions” also include sound and music labels and speech identifiers, etc.

Alt-text for images | This is a very straightforward way to make your posts accessible for the visually impaired – you add text separately describing the images (but not GIFs or videos) you post. On Twitter, you have to enable the feature via Settings and Privacy > Accessibility. On Facebook, it’s a universal feature, although the alt-text is extremely limited in terms of character count.  Read Twitter’s guide here. Read Facebook’s guide here. Read Instagram’s guide here.

How alt-text works on Facebook, preparing to post an image:

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How alt-text works on Facebook, after you’ve posted an image:

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How alt-text works on Twitter (NB you can’t edit after posting):

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Sponsored posts | These can be extremely effective compared to print marketing, especially for independent exhibitors who can’t rely on the same reach, footfall or press attention as venues, festivals or bigger exhibitors. Facebook and Twitter are both very good at targeting to specific people, whether it’s people who already follow your page (and may miss your posts due to the algorithm or the speed of constantly unravelling newsfeeds), or a particular demographic, e.g. people who live near your event, young people, or people who like horror films. Facebook is a lot more user friendly than Twitter, though both require experimentation and attention to get the best results. Some reluctance to engage with this aspect of social media is understandable, but keep in mind, if you’re doing it right, you’re showing people something they want to see.

NB If you’re participating in Scalarama Glasgow/West, Edinburgh/East, or Highlands and Islands, and you’re making Facebook events for September, please make your local Scalarama page a co-host. You can also add something along the lines of “Screening as part of Scalarama 2019” to your event description, and make sure to tag Scalarama in your relevant posts, tweets, etc, using the hashtag #Scalarama or #Scalarama2019.

Useful links

Always Up-To-Date Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet
Social Media Image Re-sizing Tool
Facebook Debugger
Twitter Card Validator
Bitly URL Shortener + Custom Links


This guide was made for Scalarama Glasgow’s July 2019 meeting, presented by Sean Welsh. Sean is responsible for Matchbox Cineclub and Scalarama Glasgow’s social media. He also planned and operated social media for Document International Human Rights Film Festival as Production Coordinator in 2016 and 2017.

Weird Weekend: Sliding Scale Ticketing Guide

Sliding-Scale_Weird-Weekend

Passes for Weird Weekend, our cult film festival, are £40 (weekend) or £20 (day), and single tickets are priced on a sliding scale, based on your circumstances – you decide what to pay, with reference to our guide. There are three tiers: Free/£2, £4/£6 and £8.

Download our guide on what to pay here (with thanks to Scottish Queer International Film Festival), or refer to the text below. If you have any questions, please email us tickets@matchboxcineclub.com.

Sliding Scale: What Should I Pay?

FREE or £2
• I frequently stress about meeting basic* needs and don’t always achieve them.
• I have debt and it sometimes prohibits me from meeting my basic needs.
• I rent lower-end properties or have unstable housing.
• I sometimes can’t afford public or private transport. If I own a car/have access to a car, I am not always able to afford petrol.
• I am unemployed or underemployed.
• I qualify for government and/or voluntary assistance including: food banks and benefits.
• I have no access to savings.
• I have no or very limited expendable** income.
• I rarely buy new items because I am unable to afford them.
• I cannot afford a holiday or have the ability to take time off without financial burden.

£4 or £6
• I may stress about meeting my basic needs but still regularly achieve them.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I can afford public transport and often private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol.
• I am employed.
• I have access to health care.
• I might have access to financial savings.
• I have some expendable income.
• I am able to buy some new items and I buy others second hand.
• I can take a holiday annually or every few years without financial burden.

£8
• I am comfortably able to meet all of my basic needs.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I own my home or property or I rent a higher end property.
• I can afford public and private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol. • I have regular access to healthcare.
• I have access to financial savings.
• I have an expendable** income.
• I can always buy new items.
• I can afford an annual holiday or take time off.

*BASIC NEEDS include food, housing, clothing and transportation.

**EXPENDABLE INCOME might mean you are able to buy coffee or tea at a shop, go to the cinema or a concert, buy new clothes, books and similar items each month, etc.


Weird Weekend takes place at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, on Friday 30/08, Saturday 31/08 and Sunday 01/09/2019.

All tickets are on sale via our online shop here.

Keep up-to-date with the Weird Weekend Facebook event page here.

Fan Fan Fanatisch: Obsession in Der Fan

Guest writer Claire Biddles (Sad Girl Cinema) writes on female desire and fandom in German horror Der Fan ahead of our co-screening on July 21st. Beware spoilers!

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 23.53.41.png
Désirée Nosbusch in Der Fan

“No letter today. I wrote to R over three weeks ago, and still no answer. Maybe he never got my letter. Maybe some jealous secretary got her hands on it and decided not to give it to him. Because she could tell I love him more than she does. Really love him.”

Although written and directed by a man – prolific German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt – 1982 cult horror Der Fan is one of the most convincing depictions of female fandom, obsession and desire in cinema. Its descent into cartoon excess represents the heightened fantasy end point of pop star adulation, but it is grounded in uncomfortable truths.

Der Fan follows German teenager Simone, who is disengaged and almost catatonic as she sleepwalks through the drudgery of her home and school life. She barely speaks, but through her narration we discover the reason for her vegetative state: her every waking moment is devoted to intense thoughts of R, a new-wave pop star who she adores above anything else. Her bedroom walls are covered in monochrome images of him, and she listens to his songs via an omnipresent cassette Walkman that separates her from the real world. She no longer pays attention to schoolwork: “What’s the use? I can’t think of anything except R and how much I need him.”

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Désirée Nosbusch in Der Fan

The signifiers of fandom are familiar, but the execution is unusual. Rather than a depiction of the (often communal) hysterical excitement of fangirls, Der Fan traces its solitary, destructive flipside. It’s telling that the film’s alternative English title is Trance: Simone’s desire is so all-encompassing that other people fail to register — her teachers, parents, more appropriate romantic suitors. Her unreciprocated obsession is so all-encompassing that it becomes destructive; cancelling out its mundane surroundings.

Simone’s desire has left her with a one-track mind in the centre of a void, wandering the streets in a fugue state. The film’s atmosphere is a dull ache: rain and suburban streets and municipal buildings. R’s music is the kind typically made by inhabitants of these post-industrial landscapes – the soundtrack by Düsseldorf group Rheingold recalls the driving empty urbanity of Joy Division or Bauhaus.

Simone has written R a letter to which he hasn’t responded. Every day she drags her feet to the post office in anticipation of his reply; a voiceover counting the days like a prison sentence. When she tires of waiting, she tracks him down outside a TV studio, and they finally meet. Simone is speechless — she collapses and he rescues her, taking her inside the studio to watch his performance being filmed.

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 23.43.20.png
Désirée Nosbusch and Bodo Steiger in Der Fan

The link between the devotion of pop fandom and the manipulative power of political dictatorship is often made in films about charismatic pop stars – most recently in Brady Corbet’s twin films Childhood of a Leader and Vox Lux. The allusion is sometimes clunky: in Der Fan, images of mass-saluting crowds are interspersed with images of R in Simone’s bedroom; in the television performance that Simone watches, R wears a militaristic uniform surrounded by saluting mannequins. The sinister creep of R’s power is more subtly expressed in the similarity between R and Simone when they finally meet, both wearing almost identical outfits of white shirts and dark leather trousers. This could be read as a symbol of R’s control over Simone (and others – his secretary is also seen in a similar outfit) but also of Simone’s desire to possess him so much that she literally starts to become him: an under-reported but fundamental manifestation of fandom.

This desire is made explicit (and then some) in the film’s audacious final act. After their meeting at the television studio, R takes Simone to his friend’s empty apartment where they have sex. After this ultimate act of wish-fulfilment, R disappoints Simone with his aloofness – his desire for a simple one night stand not matching up to her overwhelming need for him. The film’s final twist sees her react with extreme and perverted violence.

Der-Fan-poster_web

While committing this strange violence, Simone is single-minded and determined, her demeanour as trance-like as when she was yearning for R at the start of the film. She’s detached and withdrawn, an empty vessel. If obsession destroys everything around the object of desire, it’s no surprise that it will eventually start to erode the self, too. So much of Simone’s sense of self is constructed around her desire for R, and her desire for R is constructed around a fiction of her own creation. Like so many relationships between fan and fan-object, Simone projects her own base needs onto the empty vessel of a pop star. He can be anything she needs him to be. Even his single-letter name is ripe for projection – a hyper-concentrated version of the iconic mononymous pop star. Nobody knows what the ‘R’ stands for, so it could stand for anything. His post-punk voice is monotonous and anonymous, but Simone fills it with subjective meaning: “He always sings with that same voice, but to me it sounds different every time.” This projection is disrupted once Simone meets the ‘real’ R. When the fan-object disintegrates into nothing, the fan’s whole sense of self is in flux.

Although it presents an extreme manifestation of fandom and obsession, Der Fan’s depiction of desire as a nihilistic force is rooted in truth. It can also be argued as a subtly feminist film: its moral could be that female desire is deadly and destructive, something for men to be afraid of — but also that desire for men is destructive for women too. So many narratives around fandom are rooted in pop stars’ potential to ‘save’ their fans, but Der Fan suggests they can just as easily destroy them — or help them to destroy themselves.

Claire Biddles


Der Fan screens on Sunday 21/07 at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, followed by a panel discussion on obsession, fandom and thirst, moderated by Claire Biddles.

Tickets are on sale via Matchbox Cineclub’s online shop here, and are priced on a sliding scale, according to your means.

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

Under The Cherry Moon with Backseat Bingo

The tale of our collaboration with Prince expert/fashion historian/cult film programmer triple threat Casci Ritchie, in celebration of His Royal Badness

01 Intro Slide

When news of Prince’s untimely death came through in April 2016, we were hosting a mystery screening at The Old Hairdressers. We lingered after the screening to take advantage of the special set-up (brand-new projector and tiered seating brought in for GI) and settled in to scour YouTube for whatever Prince content we could find (not a huge amount back then). Coincidentally, Backseat Bingo, about five years ago, hosted cult film screenings in The Old Hairdressers (films like Cry Baby, Teenagers From Outer Space, House On Haunted Hill and Strait-Jacket). This was just before Matchbox Cineclub started our monthly night there (and long before we moved our residency to CCA), and sadly we never made it to one of their events.

Backseat Bingo was then dormant for a few years, so altogether we were very happy, in January this year, to hear from Casci Ritchie, the brains behind BB, with a co-screening pitch. Casci, also a fashion historian specialising in Prince, wanted to mark what would’ve been The Purple One’s 61st birthday on Friday June 7th, 2019, with a rare screening of Under The Cherry Moon (1986). We jumped at the chance to screen Prince’s misunderstood directorial debut, the follow-up to the acknowledged masterpiece Purple Rain, derided as a vanity project and long overdue for critical reappraisal.

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And it seemed everyone else wanted to do something special for the event too. CCA’s tech staff agreed to climb teetering ladders to add coloured gels to their lights – though the unexpectedly pouring sunshine dulled the effect a little – so the foyer greeting the audience was bathed, albeit faintly, in Prince-y purple. Saramago, the café/bar embedded in the heart of CCA, got involved by playing Casci’s specially-curated Prince playlist all day long, from doors open until our programme began at 7pm, with the best of Prince’s movie trailers. Casci even provided a stash of Tootsie Pops, Prince’s very favourite sweet, for the arriving audience to dig into.

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Casci’s illustrated talk took us on a journey through Prince’s fashion evolution, illustrating his iconic style through photos, clips and her expert knowledge. From his early days as a dedicated follower of fashion, all bell bottoms and platforms, to his instantly recognisable spandex, chains and trench coat, right through to his final years of more relaxed feminine tailor, Casci covered it all. Prince is known for his outlandish dress sense, but Casci gave the audience an insight into just how considered and deliberate his choices were, reflecting his evolving artistic intentions. The audience were then well equipped to fully appreciate His Royal Badness’ outfits in Under The Cherry Moon, and safe to say everyone wanted a backless suit.

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The event was sold out, and we sold tickets on a sliding scale from zero to £8, with an average ticket price of £4.86. That’s worth noting since typically we’d price our tickets at around £4 and so the sliding scale continues to provide accessibility while actual increasing our box office. That’s important because it proves screenings like these can be sustainable and accessible at the same time, and also because it means Backseat Bingo can reinvest in more upcoming events.

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Casci also organised a raffle in aid of East Glasgow Music School, a project we felt Prince would’ve approved of. EGMS run on Saturday mornings during term time and offer music lessons for children in the East End of Glasgow, helping build self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. The School provides instruments on free loan to children, and is fully inclusive, welcoming children of all levels of ability and from all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Matchbox Cineclub contributed our share of the box office too, making a total of £225.31 for EGMS.

Also in terms of accessibility, the main feature and the supporting programme (trailers for Purple Rain, Sign O The Times, Graffiti Bridge, our upcoming screening Der Fan and the music video for Batdance) were captioned/subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. That’s possible since Matchbox now has a professional subtitling arm, and the intention to caption/subtitle all our upcoming screenings and their supporting programmes (i.e. trailers, etc).

We have more team-ups on the way this year – with Sad Girl Cinema, Queer Classics and Pity Party Film Club – and we’re always looking for collaboration. This year, Film Hub Scotland’s support means we’ve been able to spark some co-screenings to encourage new independent exhibitors/programmers, like Venom Mob Film Club, or dormant ones, like Backseat Bingo, to screen more films around Glasgow. And, if you’d like to start a film night, or plan your own screening series, we’re running an open call for collaborative pitches to help launch your project through a co-screening with us. The deadline for pitches is Friday June 14th – read the full details here. And if you’re more established but would still like to team-up, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch here.


Thanks to Casci Ritchie & Backseat Bingo, Charlie, Kenny Christie, Dee Clark, Alex Misick, Ingrid Mur, Film Hub Scotland, Filmbank and CCA Glasgow.

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