Approaching Zero

GFF diary days 7 & 8: Terry Gilliam, David Graham Scott, Roger Christian and the return of Goblin.

by Jennie Kermode

Terry Gilliam introduces The Zero Theorem
Terry Gilliam introduces The Zero Theorem Photo: Neil Thomaas Douglas

Wednesday at the Glasgow Film Festival was a good day for catching up on good things missed earlier in the week, with second screenings for romance The Lunchbox and documentary These Birds Walk, whilst there were fans doing Kate Bush impressions on the ordinarily peaceful Rose Street in anticipation of the 1939 Wuthering Heights. Iboga Nights director David Graham Scott popped into the GFT to talk about making that film and about the reality of his own experience in tackling his drug addiction through the use of the African hallucinogen. Chilean film Things The Way They Are screened at Cineworld and Mrgaret Tait Award-winning artist Rachel Maclean brought together a group of creative types in the CCA for Tae Think Again, an event focused on exploring contemporary Scottish identity. Although inspired by the forthcoming independence referendum it wasn't a political event and there was very little focus on the vote; instead it aimed to draw out social, cultural and historical issues.

King Creosote in action
King Creosote in action Photo: GFF14

Wednesday also saw the launch of Cargo, Camera...Action!, with a preview of art installations set to form part of Glasgow's Summer Festival, and music was provided by King Creosote. There was a literary focus to the evening with a screening of Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia, and it was also the night of the regular festival Surprise Film, with fans excited as ever. After last year's choice of Spring Breakers it was difficult to imagine how the festival could out-troll itself, and as it turned out it didn't try. Despite a challenging first line, this turned out to be the first Surprise Film for years with no walkouts. It was Calvary, John Michael McDonagh's blackly comic drama about a troubled priest.

Thursday's highlights included a visit from Michael Z Wechsler to introduce The Red Robin, the first of two films dealing with the social legacy of World War II; Wakolda: The German Doctor was shown in the evening. The day was also notable for a screening of Black Angel, the Scottish-shot short fantasy film originally shown before The Empire Strikes Back. Lost for over 20 years, it's a incredibly influential work which inspired the likes of Excalibur and which has only recently been restored after a 34 year absence from the screen. Director Roger Christian was there to introduce it and to talk about his design work on Star Wars and Alien.

In the evening, the festival held one of its most eagerly anticipated gala events - the première of Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem. "It' about whether or not we can ever truly be alone now," Gilliam told the audience about his latest take on a techno-centric dystopian future. "Most films reassure you:the world is under control, it's a lovely place and tomorrow you'll fall in love. The real world is more interesting than that."

Underground cinema
Underground cinema Photo: Stuart Crawford

Also held that evening was the last of the potholing expeditions, so we can now reveal what some of you will already have heard or guessed - that the film being screened down in the bowels of Central Station was The Descent. Audience reactions were mixed - not everybody gets along with horror - but everybody loved the location, which was reached by following a rope along a dark corridor, with the film itself screened in a green-lit cave. To make things slightly more comfortable that they were for the film's unfortunate heroines, soft cushions were provided.

Goblin on stage
Goblin on stage Photo: Stuart Crawford

The other big event of the night was the return, after a massively successful comeback performance last year, of Goblin, the band whose giallo scores made them a movie legend. Playing to a packed house at Oran Mor, with Golden Teacher in support, they performed several genre favourites including a piece from Dawn Of The Dead. It was a suitable warm-up for the forthcoming Frightfest, with lots of good stuff still to come before the festival curtain comes down.

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