Peach perfect

GFF diary days 11&12: Richard Gere, Johannes Roberts, Cam Evrenol, Frightfest and musical moments.

by Jennie Kermode

Richard Gere at the Glasgow Film Theatre
Richard Gere at the Glasgow Film Theatre Photo: www.NeilThomasDouglas.com

Saturday, the penultimate day of the Glasgow Film Festival, began with something for younger viewers – a special tribute to Roald Dahl. Both Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda. There were special activities for kids who wanted to get creatively involved, and one boy went all out to show his enthusiasm, wearing a fox t-shirt, making a badge with a fox on it, and bringing his fox best friend along to see the films. There was a giant fox picture on the wall and also a giant peach – or so it was claimed, though it looked more like a stumpy carrot. Matilda fans, meanwhile, were making giant piñatas of the fearsome Miss Trunchbull, which they could later attack. Some of them had vicious pointy teeth that more closely resembled something from The Enormous Crocodile, and could compete with any of the horrors of Frightfest.

Fantastic fun with foxes
Fantastic fun with foxes Photo: Stuart Crawford

That festival within a festival was then in its second day, screening no fewer than seven features in a row, from Norwegian disaster movie The Wave to Australian serial killer thriller The Devil’s Candy. One of the most popular films was The Other Side Of The Door, in which a young mother takes a terrible risk out of desperation to see her dead son one last time. It was filmed in Mumbai, and director Johannes Roberts told fans how he had hated the city at first and then gradually fallen in love with it. He also talked about his upcoming film, 47 Meters Down, in which divers are trapped at the bottom of the sea after the cable attaching their sharkproof cage to their boat is severed.

Also present for a Q&A was Cam Evrenol, the director of Baskin, which was widely acclaimed as the strangest film in the Frightfest selection. He gave away some piece of art from the film, which had been part of an exhibition in Istanbul, and shared his opinions on the real life horrors affecting his country today, referring to a certain senior politician as “Vladimir Putin turning into Kim Jong Il.”

Having a ball with Romeo + Juliet
Having a ball with Romeo + Juliet Photo: Ingrid Mur

Elsewhere, the day developed a musical theme, from Danny Fields documentary Danny Says to Johnnie To’s elaborate music take on the global economic crisis, Office. Argentinean documentary Living Stars, a deceptively simple little film which simply depicts ordinary people dancing in their homes, their gardens and their places of work, was predictably popular, and had delighted viewers talking about wanting to do something similar in the UK.

The big event of the night was a special screening of Baz Luhrmann’s vividly reinvented William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, starring a teenage Leonardo DiCaprio more interested in angstful romance that in battling bears or dragging himself through frozen rivers. The event was held in a spectacularly dressed-up Trades Hall where the Hawaiian shirts were one thing but it soon became apparent that wings are even more anti-social among film viewers than fedoras. Nevertheless, they were perfect for the Venetian masqued ball that set the tone for the night.

"It was this big..." Photo: www.NeilThomasDouglas.com

The final day began with the last of the festival’s free morning films and another of those focused on dream teams: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, whilst younger viewers (and a few who are just young at heart) enjoyed the chance to catch Disney classic [film id=15466 ]Beauty And The Beast[/film] on the big screen.

In the evening special guest Richard Gere arrived at the GFT, stopping to sign autographs and talk to fans before attending the European première of his latest film, Time Out Of Mind. It’s the story of one man’s struggle with homelessness, and as Gere and director Oren Moverman recently told us, much of it was shot with concealed cameras as he took his time wandering around the streets of New York. The fact that only two people recognised him during the entire shoot says something about how little attention we pay to the homeless. He spoke at length about it afterwards and explained why he’d wanted to make the film for 12 years, to use his own image as a romantic lead to make people think about how anyone can end up in that position. Despite the contrast with his usual work, the film drew a packed audience and fans were impressed by what he’d said.

The final party.
The final party. Photo: Stuart Crawford

The festival’s closing gala was Anomalisa, then just hours away from the prospect of winning an Oscar (it lost out to Inside Out), which filled three screens. There was also a ceremony to announce the winner of the Audience Award, which was Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s coming of age tale Mustang.

Afterwards, staff and guests repaired to the CCA for a lengthy after party which sponsors had supplied with extensive amounts of Heineken, whisky, gin and wine. There were live bands, there was cheesy eighties music, and there was lots of dancing as they celebrated what critics have widely agreed was their best line-up yet, and what viewers have flocked to in greater numbers than ever. There was talk of plans for 2017, but right now, everybody deserves a few days’ rest.

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