GFF opening and closing films announced

Handsome Devil and Mad To Be Normal bookend festival.

by Amber Wilkinson

David Tennant will attend the world premiere of Mad To Be Normal in Glasgow
David Tennant will attend the world premiere of Mad To Be Normal in Glasgow
Glasgow Film Festival has announced it will open with the European premiere of coming-of-age story Handsome Devil on February 15 and close with the world premiere of Mad To Be Normal on February 26, attended by star David Tennant.

John Butler's Handsome Devil stars Andrew Scott alongside rising stars Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine in the story of 16-year-old Ned, an artistic lad who faces his own hell on earth when he is sent to an all-boys Irish boarding school where the manly pursuit of rugby is virtually a religion. He steels himself for the loneliness, ridicule and constant insinuations about his sexuality. Everything changes with the arrival of his new roommate Conor ( Galitzine), a star player in the rugby team, and inspirational English teacher Dan Sherry (Scott). Ned and Conor bond over a mutual appreciation of cool music and an unlikely friendship blossoms and faces unbearable pressures from a school grimly attached to its narrow macho values.

Closing film Mad To Be Normal chronicles the life of Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing, played by Tennant. The Scot stars alongside Elisabeth Moss, Michael Gambon and Gabriel Byrne in the film directed by Robert Mullan.

Controversial Sixties psychologist Laing was dubbed the “high priest of antipsychiatry”, establishing Kingsley Hall in London as a medication-free community for those seriously affected by schizophrenia. His methods and theories flew in the face of a medical establishment who considered Laing a dangerous radical.

As a tribute to the late intellectual and storyteller John Berger, the festival has also announced it will host the Scottish premiere of The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger on February 24. The result of a five-year project by Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth in collaboration with the composer Simon Fisher Turner, the film comprises four essay films, each taking different aspects of Berger’s life in the Haute-Savoie (read what MacCabe told us about the film).

Glasgow Film Festival co-Director Allison Gardner said: “I am so excited to share the news about our great opening and closing galas. Handsome Devil is a real crowd-pleaser with a joyous spirit that makes it a perfect film to launch the festival.

"David Tennant gives an absolutely stunning performance as RD Laing in Mad To Be Normal and it seems only fitting that Glasgow should have the honour of hosting the premiere of a film about one of the city’s most complex, charismatic figures.

"We are also privileged to be able to host the Scottish premiere of The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, a fascinating look at one of our greatest polymaths”.

Tickets for the Opening and Closing Galas go on sale at 10am on Monday, January 9 from: glasgowfilm.org/festival, with the full programme announced on January 18.

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