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Queen Scarlet Cinema Delivers the Community Cinema Experience

Queen Scarlet Cinema is screening George A. Romero’s cult classic Dawn of the Dead later this month at Casa.

The SOS Film Collective is a local non-profit established for the cinephiles in Lethbridge. One branch of the non-profit is Queen Scarlet Cinema — a series of community film screenings open to the public.

“The very first screening was in my house,” Tess Mitchell explained, going back to before SOS Film Collective was born. “And it was me and a good friend wanting to screen some feminist films with other people and have some discussions after. Then we decided to go a little bit bigger with it and go to the Fish & Game Hut.”

Since then, Tess Mitchell and Jane Edmundson were joined by Evan Peacock and Karla Margarita to form the official body of SOS Film Collective and Queen Scarlet Cinema.

 Tess Mitchell (left) and Karla Margarita at a Queen Scarlet Cinema screening.  (Photo: Courtney Faulkner)
Tess Mitchell (left) and Karla Margarita at a Queen Scarlet Cinema screening. (Photo: Courtney Faulkner)

“The Queen Scarlet Cinema, because I’ve worked in a lot of old cinemas, is about that older community-viewing atmosphere,” Mitchell said, sharing her inspiration. “The kind of lighting, having a grand feeling to going to the cinema when it was sort of a fancy, exciting evening out. So we try to capture that with beautiful goblets and velvet and mood lighting.”

The screenings, hosted at Casa, transform an empty box of a room into a nostalgic cinema atmosphere.

“Within that there’s an inclusive mandate to try to do programming that is representative of the kinds of things you can’t find [elsewhere],” said Mitchell. “It’s really about kind of pushing the boundaries and making an immersive environment where people feel welcome, safe, and a little bit spoiled.”

“And viewing has changed with things like Netflix,” Mitchell continued. “I think we’re coming back to an idea of community viewings — that people are kind of missing that atmosphere where you’re together — shared experience. And then to talk about it together after to get different perspectives.”

Queen Scarlet Cinema screens nine films a year, taking the summer months off. The board (currently composed of Tess Mitchell, Karla Margarita, Jane Edmundson, Kristin Krein, and James Phlegan) selects the titles, usually films that are thought provoking or cult classics. Some are very digestible and entertaining, while others are a bit more challenging.

  (Photo: Courtney Faulkner)
(Photo: Courtney Faulkner)
  (Photo: Courtney Faulkner)
(Photo: Courtney Faulkner)
  (Photo: Courtney Faulkner)
(Photo: Courtney Faulkner)

They’ve mostly been funded by a Heart of Our City grant as well as memberships, admissions, and concession sales at the events.

“I’d like to describe our organization as the Lethbridge pop-up art cinema,” explained Karla Margarita. “Because we are a pop-up.”

“Yeah, we bring everything at the beginning, we take it all down at the end, rolling in the popcorn machine,” added Mitchell.

For this month’s screening, Dawn of the Dead ties into the Halloween season and attendees are encouraged to dress as zombies. The doors will open at 7 p.m. on October 23 at Casa with the movie starting at 7:30 p.m.

It’s $5 to get in or free for members (membership is $30), and drinks and candy will be for sale while the popcorn is free.

Follow the SOS Film Collective Facebook page to stay up to date with what else is being offered to Lethbian cinephiles.

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