Bold. Immersive. Original. Undeniably Scottish. The annual Glasgow Film Festival mightn’t (yet) be one of the UK’s heavy-hitters in terms of major releases in the film festival calendar (hello, London and Edinburgh) but it remains the everyday cinephile’s favourite thanks to its variety, inclusivity and willingness to veer outside the box – a shining silver screen at the end of the long Northern winter.
As a whole ensemble of local veterans and international visitors prepare to descend on the city for February 26’s opening Gala, we look ahead to the 12 days of excitement in store. Starring the irresistible Eva Green and succinctly described as a chronicle of one woman’s struggle to balance career and family, [Augustine, Disorder director] Alice Winocour’s Proxima (on UK premiere) promises to kick us off in some style, taking viewers deep into the human heart as well as to infinity and beyond.
Bookending us at the close on March 8, International Women’s Day, another highly-rated female-directed UK premiere: Coky Giedroyc’s How To Build A Girl. A long-overdue adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s cherished, semi-autobiographical bestseller is by all accounts a hilarious, inspirational coming-of-age comedy and perhaps the homegrown British comedy of the year. Starring as Johanna Morrigan, too – a 16-year-old extrovert from the outskirts of Wolverhampton with raging hormones, an unstoppable imagination and gigantic dreams – is Beanie Feldstein [Booksmart] whose big brother Jonah Hill screened his own coming-of-age cracker Mid90s at last year’s fest.
Amidst a smorgasbord of delights to dive into, there are plenty of other stand-outs.
Sulphur & White, the debut feature from BAFTA-nominated director Julian Jarrold [Red Riding] tells the “inspiring and heartbreaking” true story of trader, mountaineer and NSPCC campaigner David Tait and stars Mark Stanley, Emily Beecham, Anna Friel and Dougray Scott on World Premier. Lorcan Finnegan’s satirical sci-fi Vivarium, in which Jesse Eisenberg’s and Imogen Poots’ lives take a weird turn when they look to buy a house together. With a more considered pace, Lost Transmissions delivers a sensitive and startling indictment of how mental health is treated in the USA which follows a music producer played by Simon Peggas he battles with schizophrenia.
Elsewhere, Hugo Weaving shines as a world-weary Melbourne crime boss in a sharp contemporary re-telling of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Mrs and Miss Cops is a South Korean female buddy cop drama that’s a non-stop thrill-ride from start to finish.
We’re most excited, however, for director Justin Kurzel’s (Snowtown, Macbeth) True History Of The Kelly Gang. ‘Nothing you are about to see is true’ claims this vivid, full-blooded adaptation of Peter Carey’s Booker prize-winner: a rumination on the life and legend of the infamous Ned Kelly. Born into a family of poor Irish immigrants, Ned (the on-fire George MacKay) grows into an angry young man, constantly at odds with colonial authority. Ruthless bush ranger Harry Power (Russell Crowe) becomes a father figure/mentor as Kelly embraces his destiny as gang leader, folk hero and legend. Judging by pedigree alone, this could be a modern classic.
MacKay himself will be in attendance, as well as Caitlin Moran, Simon Bird, Cannes Best Actress Award Winner Emily Beecham, Celia Imrie, Bill Paterson and the cast of hotly-anticipated Scots comedy Our Ladies across a line-up featuring a total of 9 World premieres, 10 European premieres, 102 UK premieres and 39 Scottish premieres.
Again, the festival will lay on its selection of crowd-pleasing ‘Special Events.’ This year, we’re getting the classic horror of Final Destination in a secret destination along with Lori Petty, Naomi Watts and Ice-T smashing the system in Tank Girl, Arnie getting his ass to Mars in Total Recall, zomies on a Korean high-speed transfer in Train To Busan and Pixar classic Wall-E at the Argyle Street Arches. There’ll also obviously be the customary, fan-favourite ‘secret screening’ on March 4.
As a gore-drenched finale, the final weekend will see team Frightfest customarily commandeer Screen 1 at the GFT for a marathon run-through of twelve blood-curdling cuts from the best of upcoming horror, cult and genre filmmaking. Kicking-off with Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s Synchronic (starring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan) in the tale of New Orleans paramedics following the train of carnage wreaked by a new designer drug, it promises to test stomachs as sternly as ever, with other highlights including A Ghost Waits, The Mortuary Collection, (the evocatively-titled) Butt Boy and VFW. Sure to be a scream.
It’ll be a fitting end to a festival that’s always had a little more grit, guts and bite than most. We’ll catch you in the GFT bar for a few pints of cider and buckets of (quietly crunched) popcorn for Glasgow’s best bash of the year.