The 14th Glasgow Film Festival – what you need to know

It’s the most wonderful time of the year if you’re a film fan in Scotland

NOW firmly in its adolescence, the Glasgow Film Festival is appropriately puffing out its chest and demanding to be seen as a top tier showcase of the latest and best cinema.

The headlines are flashy and plentiful: 13 world and European premieres, 77 UK premieres, and 52 Scottish premieres; over 330 separate events taking place from 21 February until 4 March; special guests include Bill Pullman, Karen Gillan, David Tennant, Paddy Considine, Imogen Poots, Ben Wheatley, and Lynne Ramsay, who will introduce the Scottish premiere of You Were Never Really Here, and also appear on an episode of Edith Bowman’s Soundtracking podcast, recorded at the festival.

Opening the festival is Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion animation feature Isle of Dogs, a mere handful of days after its world premiere. As with many of Anderson’s features, it shows off the director’s impressive list of connections with a sizeable cast list featuring Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton … and that isn’t even half of the promo poster’s listed stars.

A Fantastic Woman is a story about a trans woman actually played by a trans woman, with acclaim following Daniela Vega wherever she goes.

Bringing the festival to a close is the Scottish documentary Nae Pasaran, about the group of Scots who stood against Pinochet and Chile’s Air Force from the East Kilbride Rolls Royce factory.

And everything in between features something for everyone.

Wonderstruck is Todd Haynes’ first feature since Carol, one of the decade’s best films. A Fantastic Woman is a story about a trans woman actually played by a trans woman, with acclaim following Daniela Vega wherever she goes. Karen Gillain will attend the world premiere of her directorial debut, The Party’s Just Beginning, described as a “fiercely honest tale of loss, grief and survivor’s guilt filmed in Inverness and Glasgow”.

Fans of animation will be glad to see both The Breadwinner and Mary and The Witch’s Flower on the programme, the former from the same studio that brought us the spellbinding Song of the Sea, and the latter by Studio Ponoc, descendants of Studio Ghibli.

After holding a screening of The Thing at a ski slope last year, you would forgive the festival for missing the mark with event cinema this time around. Not to worry, since the top floors of the Former College of Building and Printing will be transformed into Nakatomi Plaza for a screening of Die Hard.

Proving that Glasgow’s festival not only has a flair for professionalism but also for being a bit of a riot, Groundhog Day will be shown daily, in Flat 0/1, at the same time each day.

Proving that Glasgow’s festival not only has a flair for professionalism but also for being a bit of a riot, Groundhog Day will be shown daily, in Flat 0/1, at the same time each day. It’s hard to imagine any other film festival committing to a joke so wholeheartedly, and it’s why Glasgow Film Festival really is a wonderful time of the year.

There is a method to all of this choice, and as usual films are divided into strands: Rebel Heroes, Ireland: The Near Shore, Special Events, Gala, CineMasters, Local Heroes, Sound & Vision, Modern Families, Stranger Than Fiction, Future Cult, Pioneer, FrightFest, Pure Baltic, Window on the World, Crossing the Line, Ida Lupino: On Dangerous Ground, and Behind the Scenes. Presented with so much to choose from, the festival has done its best to arrange films into thematic categories, adding accessibility to those a bit overwhelmed by everything on offer.

Perhaps the heart of this year’s festival lies in the Audience Award. For the last two years, the recipient films have been directed by women: 2017’s Lipstick Under My Burkha directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, and 2016’s Mustang directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven. With the events of the past year still firmly at the forefront of film discourse, it is a pleasure to see that of the ten nominees for 2018’s Audience Award, seven are directed by women. To put this into context, only 11 films directed by women have ever been nominated for the Best Picture award at the Oscars in its 90 year history, including this year’s nomination of Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig.

It’s impossible to scratch the surface of what is on offer in one article. Brochures are available now, and tickets go on sale for Glasgow Film Festival members at noon on Thursday 25 January, while general sale begins at 10am on Monday 29 January (you can visit the website here).  

Me? I am looking forward to 120 BPM, The Breadwinner, Columbus, Faces Places, A Fantastic Woman, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Mary and The Witch’s Flower, Sicilian Ghost Story, Super November, Wonderstruck, You Were Never Really Here … and that’s without having read many of the blurbs yet. See you at the festival.

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