Glasgow’s Matchbox Cineclub: The Weird, the Wacky and the Wonderful

Ever considered stepping outside of your cinematic comfort zone?

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Matchbox Cineclub is an independent exhibitor who programme and curate cult film events that take place across the country. Based in Glasgow Matchbox Cineclub have hosted Scotland's first-ever Nicholas Cage film festival, otherwise known as Cage-a-rama. Another niche yet spectacular event created by the exhibitor is KeanuCon, a festival entirely dedicated to Keanu Reeves.  


"Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. " 


Other festivals include Weird Weekend, a festival committed to unusual and unseen cinematic works, as well as The World's Greatest 3D Film Club.  


Matchbox Cineclub has toured film programmes such as Turkish Star Wars 2K across the UK and hosted film exhibitions in venues such as the Glasgow Film Theatre, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Kinning Park Complex, Nice N Sleazy, The Old Hairdressers, The Banshee Labyrinth, Sofi's Bar and Doune The Rabbit Hole.  


Matchbox Cineclub endeavour to provide captions for their events, promoting inclusivity and accessibility for D/deaf film lovers. Utilising their experience of subtitling for broadcast television and experience within independent film exhibition, Matchbox Cine has enabled accessible screenings within cinema to become the norm rather than a rarity for Deaf/Hard of Hearing audiences. 



Q&A with the Founders of Matchbox Cineclub: 


What would be the best way to describe Matchbox Cineclub? How should I explain Matchbox Cineclub to a friend? 


We’re independent exhibitors, which just means we put on film events in a variety of venues. Matchbox Cineclub specialises in cult films and cult audiences, the orphans, outcasts and outliers of cinema. We programme regular film screenings and produce film festivals across Glasgow and Scotland, including KeanuCon, Cage-a-rama and Weird Weekend, a cult film festival which focuses on strange and unseen cinema from around the world. 


We’re always trying to improve the accessibility of our events and this year we’ve committed to screening all films with captions for D/deaf audiences, as well as pricing all of our events on a sliding scale from £0-8. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our screenings.  


Why have you selected Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves for your festivals? What is so special about these two actors that they should have a festival dedicated to them? 


Cage-a-rama is a sincere expression of our appreciation for Cage’s work and a way for us to bring others who love him together. Cage-a-rama started because we both love Nicolas Cage and we wanted to do something around about his birthday, as well as try out the weekend festival format for the first time. Cage is just a very compelling character with a great and wildly varying filmography - there’s a lot to him, his work, his persona, his philosophy, the memes, all of it. On the other hand, there’s this reductive and wrong-headed idea that he’s a terrible actor which we were really keen to counter. Then, after Cage, Keanu was the next obvious choice, since he has a similar kind of mythology around him, and of course plenty of great films too. There aren’t a lot of performers that inspire such fandom, who also have such rich back catalogues. 


Why should students support independent films and exhibitors? 


The programming tends to be more interesting, and the events a lot more affordable, even though that’s inversely proportional to the amount of time, effort and care that goes into them.  Matchbox Cineclub aim to programme and produce events that no-one else does, and to make our events worthwhile. We specialise in screening films that are excellent and otherwise unavailable and a lot of times that means not on DVD, VoD or streaming, but certainly not recently screened locally. We always try to take a curatorial approach that frames the films we screen in interesting ways, with a whole range of extra stuff. Even Cage-a-rama and KeanuCon are programmed with a huge amount of care and attention, particularly for the audience, so we have tons of bonus material - specially-curated supporting programmes, intros, Q&As, etc. And often we have premiering or rarely-screened films in those programmes too. 


How can students get involved in #BringCage2Glasgow? 


Share/(re)tweet any and all Cage content you can find, with the hashtag, and please also write to your MP/MSP/MEP. 


It was fantastic to hear that all your events are captioned, making these events accessible for Deaf/Hard of Hearing audiences. Can I ask what motivated Matchbox Cineclub to implement this initiative? 


With our experience in film exhibition and subtitling, we realised it was easier for us to do than most and that we should do it if we could - and open captioning is the only option if you want to be truly accessible. Practically, it was sparked by a combination of conversations with Helen Wright of Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF), who is a strong advocate for access and inclusion in all senses, and our own experience with captioning. Sean has been a professional subtitler in various contexts for over 10 years, and since this year Matchbox Cinesub has been an arm of our business. Helen helped us understand that it’s not enough to have the occasional subtitled screening or to offer to switch captions on if someone asks for them. We’re in a unique position to strongly advocate for that particular kind of access, and to kind of set an example. And since most of the films we screen don’t have subtitles, let alone descriptive subtitles/captions, it’s hopefully useful to make these films accessible beyond our own events. We’ve also produced captions this year for Film Hub Scotland, Glasgow Short Film Festival, Take One Action, Document Film Festival and a couple of films in distribution too.  


We’re big fans of Deafie Blogger’s #SubtitledCinema campaign which aims to increase captioned screenings in cinemas across the UK, and we think independent exhibitors can really lead the way in this. Hopefully, as more exhibitors start to screen with captions, it becomes the norm. 


What can students look forward to and expect at Cage-a-rama and KeanuCon? 


?Heavy doses of the best things Cagey/Keanuey, including 10-12 films over a weekend - a mix of classics and brand-new releases/premieres - lots of extra stuff, like guest intros, cast and crew Q&As (remote and in-person), themed pop-up shops, panel events, quizzes with plenty of prizes/swag, music and more. And we’ll never rest till we get one of them to come. To their own festivals or each to the other’s, whichever they’re more interested in. 


You can keep up to date with Matchbox Cineclub’s events by following them on social media and subscribing to their mailing list.

Image was illustrated by Vero Navarro.


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