By Tony Clayton-Lea
It might be a tad ironic to have Slum Cinema as the umbrella title for an adventurous night of movie entertainment, but 24-year- old Canadian, Dublin-resident Anna Davies may just have hit a particularly hard and recession-driven nail on the head by doing so.
Davies' love of cult movies was nurtured during her teenage years in her native Calgary, Alberta, as she soaked up films in the city's three arthouse cinemas: the Plaza, the Uptown, and the Globe. The first cult movie Davies viewed was the original (1978) version of the controversial rape/revenge movie, I Spit On your Grave (which remains banned in Ireland).
"Then they did a double bill of grindhouse movies," recalls Davies, "one of which was a documentary about the origins of the genre." The second feature was Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino's nouveau addition to the breed, Death Proof . "I was blown away by it - it's dirty, fast, fleshy, gory."
Fast-forward a few years, and Davies lands in Ireland, and slowly starts to organise. When her nine-to- five day job is taken care of (she heads up the vintage clothes department of St Vincent de Paul - look out for Vintage at Vincent's stores nationwide by the end of the year), she is chief mischief-maker at Slum Cinema, a community- driven, somewhat guerilla slice of fun.
"It's been going for about a year, pretty much on a monthly basis," she says . "There have been a couple of months where it hasn't been on for various reasons - venue change, lack of funding. It's all out of my pocket, and so I run it as cheaply as I can because I wanted to run a cinema night that I can afford, and I can't afford much."
Now located in in the distinctive 1940 s Hendrons Building on upper Dominick Street in Dublin 7, Slum Cinema operates on the basis that certain amounts of people appreciate badly made movies. Over the past year or so, it has hosted cult gems such as 1963's The Sadist (cinematography by, no less, Vilmos Zsigmond, who went on to work on The Deer Hunter and Close Encounters of the Third Kind ), 1962's Eegah (tagline: "the crazed love of a prehistoric giant for a ravishing teenage girl "), 1974's Female Trouble ("Where do these people come from? Where do they go when the sun goes down?" asked movie critic Rex Reed in his critique of the movie's actors and director/writer, John Waters) and 1971's Vampyros Lesbos (the soundtrack of which includes a tune titled The Lions and the Cucumber ).
Davies is a real champion of cult, then, eager to get back to the basics of putting on movies you tend not to see these days, to ask for a donation rather than an entrance fee, and to make the event as consumer-friendly as possible (via a BYOB policy and the provision of free popcorn).
The most recent Slum Cinema presentation a month or so ago was 2003's The Room , a terrifically poor American film that not only makes most soap-opera storylines sparkle by comparison but which has evolved into one of the most popular cult movies of recent times. Audience participation throughout showings of the film has become part of its appeal, with well-versed fans calling out lines and other related reference points.
"I wouldn't be doing these nights if I wanted to keep these movies to myself," she reasons. "I want to do as much as I can to make sure that people know there is horribly great cinema out there."
The next instalment of Slum Cinema is on May 29th, with a double bill of Rubber and Teeth . See facebook.com/SlumCinema
Originally published by Tony Clayton-Lea.
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