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Forgotten Films, Interviews, Kings of Cult

Cranking the Filmbar up to 70!

On what should have been a sunny and hot day in the beginning of June (it was in fact a day filled with torrential rain) I found myself heading towards the London based Roxy Bar and Screen. I was braving hell and high water to begin my interview with the lovely gents who form Filmbar70. Once I arrived (sheltering oneself away from the liquid nonsense also known as rain) I was greeted by the always groovy, Justin Harries (one half of FilmBar70). I was quickly given a much-needed beverage.

Situated in London’s Roxy Bar and Screen, Justin and his Filmbar 70 partner Adam host a selection of film nights centered on the obscure, the psychedelic and the plain strange. So even if you only have a passing interest in ‘cult’ film, FilmBar70 really is worthy of nights viewing as these two gentlemen clearly have a passionate love of all things film

This is a different take on a conventional interview as Adam and Justin were interview separately. Adam’s answers will be written and Justin’s will be vocal excerpts as I interviewed him in the Roxy Bar and Screen (which will account for the changes in sound quality). As usual sound off in the comments section below. Now sit back, relax and enjoy this insightful drive into cinematic craziness (hopefully with a pint in hand).

Dom: What made you both want to start Filmbar70 and where did the inspiration come from?

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: I think the Internet was responsible for re-exploding our minds to a certain degree. Having greater access to otherwise unavailable or unaffordable amounts of material was amazing. Although I must stress before anyone goes ‘boohoo’ about Internet downloads that I’ve spent an absolutely stupid amount on films and have done for decades!

We’d been having our own lounge based film nights for quite a while; the films on show tended to be in and around the 70’s. Nostalgia was maybe part of it but really it was just an interesting time in film-making, from the politicized groovy films of the late 60’s to the flat out exploitation of the 70’s, all within quite a slim time frame. It was a hugely productive and creative time, a mixture of high and low art, one trying to justify the other, often within the same film.

Justin first came up with the idea of doing a film night and he also had an ideal venue in mind, The Roxy in London Bridge. We had no knowledge of other film clubs at the time, we just drew on what we thought would make an ideal film evening. And also it was just a case of ‘why aren’t these films being shown anywhere in London?’

Dom: One of the many highlights of a Filmbar70 film nights are the sourced retro advertisements and trailers that play before each screening. Do you feel that this get the audience into the mood and draw them in more then most other film screenings?

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: The initial concept that we’ve stuck to quite rigorously was to create the feel of an evening in a 1970’s cinema with retro adverts, short films and trailers before the main feature. The support material is usually themed in some way or contextualizes the film that evening. It locates the film within the period, the trends and the attitudes of the time.

Dom: What have been some of your most enjoyable past screenings at Filmbar70?

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: Some of the all-nighters for Scala Forever have been an absolute riot… Night of the Bloody Pint, particularly the absurd Slugs: The Movie (1988), or when we showed The Stabilizer (1986) which is pure Indo-trash gold. I love sharing films where I catch myself thinking ‘I can’t believe we’re actually showing this!’ We are quite rigorous in our programming and there are a lot of boxes to be ticked to mark it with Filmbar70 approval. But occasionally come across films that defy any of those boxes and they can be valid too.

Dom: Going off on a bit of tangent here, but what are your views on the BFI Flipside label?

Justin Harries:

Dom: In the future would you like to get more special guests at the events? Justin I know you are a huge fan of the Italian Poliziotteschi genre film and in particular cult actor Tomas Millian.

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: We’d love to have special quests. All the names of the period are pretty old now. Tomas Milian for instance is now 80. But the truth is we have no budget to play with. Maybe guests closer to home would be way more plausible.

Dom: Are there any features you feel that just wouldn’t cut the mustard with FilmBar70’s film screenings

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: I’m always up for showing daft musicals such as The Apple (1980) or Stunt Rock (1978), I think a lot of people find these more challenging than say exploitation or horror. In fact it’s so challenging they often don’t turn up! We wouldn’t screen films that have an overt focus on sexualized violence. We’d never screen Last House on the Left, Last House on the Beach, or other films with the words ‘Last’ and ‘House’ in the title.

We have to sit and watch these films with an audience and be held accountable for the content. Besides those films are tiresome and depressing. We like to be challenging in other ways such as choosing films that often don’t play by perceived conventional rules of film making.

Dom: A curious question this one; has there been any thought to producing a fanzine for the audience to read and take away at special screenings?

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: We do already create handouts with written pieces for the nights, but it’d be nice to do something a bit grander and we’ve certainly thought about producing a fanzine. But it’s all about time and money…

Dom: The Scala Forever season once again starts this August running all the way through September (this year entitled Scala Beyond). What is your participation this year and what can fans of last years season come to expect (worth noting is the brilliant Ken Russell season last year as well) And personally what are you looking forward to most?

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: We’re actually programming more films than last year in a shorter time frame. Night of the Bloody Pint will return as will a World Wide Action film all-nighter. We’ll be showing Giallos, British apocalypse films, VHS exploitation of the 90’s, Bollywood, Follywood and lots more…

Dom: What do you look forward to for the future of FilmBar70?

Justin Harries:

Adam Schofield: For me Filmbar70 is an excuse to indulge myself in collecting films. It’s all about the films, so I’m looking forward to finding more magnificent and wonderful obscurities that I can share.

I would like to say thank you to both Adam and Justin for taking time out to talk to Musings Of A Film Fanatic.

For more information on Filmbar70 please check out their website found here

More information can be found for Scala Beyond (here) and Cine-Excess (here)

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