Depot cinema has staged a women only screening of the life-affirming street dance documentary Step.

The screening was open to all self-identifying women and non-binary people. Filmgoers were greeted by an all female front of house team.

Carmen Slijpen, Director of Depot, said: “With this screening we hope to deliver to girls and women in Sussex the film’s positive message of empowerment. We’re screening Step every evening for a whole week – six of those screenings are for everyone to enjoy.”

Earlier this year, a cinema chain in America celebrated Wonder Woman with women-only screenings, sparking controversy and attracting global media attention. There were no legal consequences for the company.

Depot has already been criticised on Facebook by men claiming they are being discriminated against. One man wrote: “This isn’t equality? How would a mans (sic) only screening go?”

But Carmen argues that the special screening is ‘pro’ women, which does not mean it is ‘against’ men. “Perhaps collaborating with Brighton-based A Band of Brothers could lead to a boy/men-only screening at some point in the future?” she added.

Step was acclaimed by audiences at the Sundance film festival and follows a group of young African American female high school students in inner city Baltimore who are members of a step dance team. In the heartfelt documentary, each pupil struggles against hardship and tries to become the first in their families to attend college. The girls strive to make their dancing a success, boosting their self-esteem against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city.

Depot puts a focus on inclusivity, with equal access around the building, caption subtitled screenings, gender neutral toilets and relaxed events for those on the autism spectrum or with sensory disorders.

Step will be screened each day at Depot until Thursday.

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