The Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) kicks off this week with the Gala Opening screening of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel on Thursday (20) – the first of an impressive 60 UK premieres on this year’s programme.
The red carpet will be rolled out at the festival’s home of the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) and remain in situ over the following 10 days, with a line-up of international stars, including the likes of Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss and Python Terry Gilliam, as well as home-grown talent, such as Paul Brannigan and David Mackenzie.
There are 187 events to choose from, before the festival draws to a close on March 2, with the Closing Gala screening of Jonathan Glazer’s adaptation of Michel Faber’s novel, Under the Skin – a perfect choice considering that much of the film was shot in Glasgow, and features unsuspecting Glaswegians, who were captured on film by hidden cameras.
This is a celebratory year for GFF as it marks its 10th birthday, and enjoys the benefits of an additional third screen at the GFT.
In the space of a decade, the festival has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the top three film festivals in the UK. Its emergence and dramatic growth is not surprising though, considering that Glasgow has long held the title of UK’s Cinema City, and Glaswegians as the most avid film-goers in the UK.
Now 10 years old, GFF has firmly established itself as one of the highlights on the Scottish cultural calendar, with this year set to be its biggest and best outing to date with an eclectic and bursting-at-the-seams programme.
This year’s diverse and relevant focus strands include ‘Cinechile’, exploring the resurgence of film-making in Chile, ‘Game Cats Go Miaow’, ideal for gamers who love their movies and ‘1939: Hooray for Hollywood’, showcasing Hollywood’s golden year. Each of the Best Picture Oscar nominations from 1939 will be screened during the festival, including Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, Of Mice and Men and Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Serendipitously, 1939 was also the year that The Cosmo Cinema opened on the site where the GFT now stands – yet another cause for celebration!
The Events and Pop-up Cinema strand returns this year, building on the festival’s reputation for curating unique ‘total cinema’ experiences. Examples include The Fog, screening on The Tall Ship, and a Monster Mash Ball and screening of Young Frankenstein at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
So where to begin? The abundance of choice at festivals can be debilitating but it can also be liberating, taking you back to a more youthful and open mind-set that existed before your decisions on what films to watch shrunk to only include those that you would definitely like, or at least, should have seen. So just pick up a programme, get the highlighter out and choose a couple of things that intrigue you. However, if this ‘hit or miss’ approach to cinema-going doesn’t suit you, then check out my top ten pick of the fest for inspiration:
- The Double – Richard Ayoade’s second feature film is an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novella, starring two of Hollywood’s indie darlings, Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska. Multi-talented Ayoade showed his flair for directing with 2011’s Submarine, but is he ready to tackle a Russian existential black comedy? Well let’s hope so, as he’s attending the Saturday (22) night screening for a Q&A.
- Potholing Expedition Seeks Recruits – Brave audience members will be going underground to watch a mystery film screened in a newly opened space deep underneath Glasgow Central Station. My bet is The Descent and if it is, then all I can say is eeeeeek!
- Le passé (The Past) – Director Asghar Farhadi made history in 2011, when his film A Separation become the first Iranian film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Expect great things from his follow-up film, Le passé – a wry and intelligent look at family life, starring The Artist’s Berenice Bejo.
- Street Food Cinema – GFF have teamed up with the Street Food Cartel to create a pop-up cinema/cafe in The Briggait. They are screening four films with complementary menus – Ratatouille, Withnail and I, When Harry Met Sally and Goodfellas. Scorsese’s epic gangster tale with glorious Italian food and red wine wins for me!
- The Wizard of Oz – Gone with the Wind may have pipped it to the post to win Best Picture, but what other film from 1939 benefits more from being seen on the big screen, as monochrome Kansas is left behind for Technicolor Oz? The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
- Tae Think Again: Rethinking Identity in Contemporary Scotland – Well known journalists and authors are lined up to attend this symposium. However, expect the unexpected, as it is curated by award winning avant-gardist Rachel Maclean, who utilises unusual techniques to examine history and imagined futures.
- Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – A documentary exploring the life and career of Broadway baby, Elaine Stritch, who, now in her twilight years, reflects on her 60 year career with her trademark frankness.
- Rab’s Videogame Empty / Tron: Off the Grid / The House of Him – Okay this is three separate events, but each of them is the brainchild of Scottish actor, writer, comedian and gamer, Robert Florence. Tron: Off the Grid will see The Glue Factory transformed into a retro-futuristic arcade for a screening of 80s classic Tron. Rab’s Video Empty involves an intimate evening of gaming and audience participation. Meanwhile, Florence adds directing to his list of credentials with his directorial debut, The House of Him – a hyper low budget horror flick shot over 16 days in Glasgow.
- L’ecume des jours (Mood Indigo) – Michel Gondry’s latest is an adaptation of the cult Boris Vian novel. Expect a surreal and touching love story, told in the director’s distinct grandiose visual style, as witnessed in his previous films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep.
- Cinema City Treasure Hunt – This interactive game can be undertaken at any time during the festival, as you simply download the Walking Heads Cinema City Treasure Hunt app and then set off exploring Glasgow’s cinema and film history. Solve the riddles of the tour and then attend the live quiz finale to find out if your team has won.
Visit glasgowfilm.org/festival to view the full programme and to book tickets.