Speakeasy Cinema crosses a big screen with a dive bar, a cafe and a creative studio. It’s inspired partly by Austin’s Alamo Drafthouses, partly by the best of Melbourne’s lo-fi drinking dens, and partly by the risk-everything attitude of 1920s saloon keep Mary Louise Cecilia “Texas” Guinan, who had never heard of a cup holder. It’s not illegal, but it is worth keeping to yourself.

Launched in 2009, Speakeasy screens at various locations around Melbourne’s inner city. The program is focused on the weird, the wonderful and the hard-to-find, sometimes screening titles that don’t make it to local cinemas at all. In the vaudeville spirit of the speakeasy, you might also catch a director Q&A, a short film or, if you’re early, a spot on Texas Guinan’s knee.

The program has included screenings of Beautiful Losers with a video introduction by director Aaron Rose, The Devil and Daniel Johnston with a live acoustic performance by Daniel Johnston, the Vice-TV-produced Australian doco Heavy Metal Gangs of Wadeye, gonzo doco The Red Chapel and Rescore, a night of silent/experimental shorts rescored live by local musicians.

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