In the drink

GFF Diary days 4 & 5: underwater escapades, lewd old lesbians and a trip to the end of the world.

by Jennie Kermode

Sunday at the festival began with a sinking feeling. The day may have been bright and fresh (if somewhat nippy) but the Titanic was going down, A Night To Remember thrilling an older audience with fond memories of Golden Age cinema. Meanwhile, Patience (After Sebald) took a grim perspective on European history. I figured I'd cheer myself up with a screening of romantic comedy All In Good Time, only to have a stranger fall on me and further injure my damaged legs and spine. Fortunately the staff were very helpful and, since I couldn't stand up anyway, I figured I might as well stay where I was and try to enjoy the film. It's a credit to the ability of East Is East scriptwriter Ayub Khan-Din that I still found myself laughing. The film seemed to go down a treat with its largely female audience and stars Reece Ritchie and Amara Karan, who had seen only one screening of it previously, were delighted, staying to take questions at the end.

Unfortunately, once I was able to stand, I discovered that I had been slowly bleeding throughout the film. I had to give up on the rest of the day and arrange to be taken home, where bandages and medication awaited. Eye For Film's Stuart Crawford helped me before hurrying back out to do the festival photographs for Fort McCoy. Director Kate Connor was in attendance and he said she was one of the nicest filmmakers he's ever met, one of those rare directors who, rather than being fierce, gets people to do what she wants by winning their undying loyalty. The film and Q&A were very popular with the audience.

Other highlights of the day included the Dreileben films, a trio of projects made by different filmmakers in response to the idea of a killer and sex offender having broken out of a secure hospital. There was also challenging moral territory to be explored in classic Matthew Lewis horror tale The Monk. And then there was Extraterrestrial. I had been supposed to attend this; Eye For Film's Donald Munro went instead and said he thoroughly enjoyed its combination of romance, sex comedy and alien invasion scenario. You can read our exclusive interview with its director, Nacho Vigalondo, here. Nacho was around after the film and joined in a Q&A with Glasgow comic book legend Mark Millar, made more entertaining by the fact they were quite drunk and holding their microphones so close to their mouths that they sounded like daleks. Nacho had initially heckled his own film when it failed to start, saying he was sure he'd made one, and his later comments were in something of the same vein, making for a highly entertaining event.

Elsewhere, the night was getting stranger. North Woodside Leisure Centre opened its doors for something a little different as the Music strand people put on their second annual Wet Sounds event for swimmers with a love of cinema and unusual melodies. With speakers both above and below the water, the experience altered with depth, creating a truly unusual auditory phenomenon.

The following day my leg was a little better but I was still finding it harder than usual to walk, so Donald helped me into a taxi and we scooted down to the hotel where I was supposed to be doing an interview with the All In Good Time cast. I was quite pleased to find the hotel there when I arrived, as google maps had shown me nothing but a pile of rubble left behind by the lot's previous occupant, but there was no sign of my interviewees, just another journalist whose interview had been scheduled to run before mine. A few frantic phone calls later and we discovered that they'd got confused over the times and gone to see their film again (meaning, of course, that no-one had their mobile turned on). So I limped up to the GFT and finally managed to locate them. The problem was, by that time I only had 15 minutes left until I was supposed to be in a screening. We hastily rescheduled and then I made my way to the lift, only to find an Out of Order notice. Despairing, I went to ask at the box office when they thought it would be repaired. “Probably tomorrow,” they said, suggesting I borrow an usher to help me up the stairs. But just as I went to find one they started calling after me, saying they'd no been told it was fixed. So I dragged myself back there to find an engineer and festival director Alison Gardner looking things over. The latter assured me that the film couldn't start until she introduced it and she still had things to do. Up I went and, after all that, I was quite relieved when the doors opened without incident. It was time to watch Michael.

Sometimes people approach me at festivals and sound out my opinions by asking what films I have enjoyed. This is the wrong question. Nobody could enjoy a film like Michael, the grim tale of a child abuser keeping a boy locked in his basement whilst he lives his mundane life, but it is nevertheless an admirable piece of work with important things to say. I caught the festival's other director, Allan Hunter, in the bar afterwards and congratulated him on the brave decision to screen it. Former GFT stalwart Jen Davies, who now works for film company Park Circus, was also there, and I don't think I've ever seen her look so shell shocked.

It took quite an effort to snap back out of that mood and back into romantic comedy mode for my interview with Reece and Amara, on a bench in a corner where we looked so casual that people came up to chat halfway through. Both stars were tired but we still had a good conversation which you'll be able to read soon here at Eye For Film. Afterwards, Amara and her PR having graciously helped me to my feet, I went off to get some food. Meanwhile, Stuart was getting ready for Cloudburst, a light-hearted but exceedingly profane tale of two elderly lesbians who travel from the US to Canada in order to get married, with a performance from Olympia Dukakis that could rival Glaswegian legend Malcolm Tucker. Writer/director Thom Fitzgerald told the audience that he'd taken some of her best lines from lesbians he knew personally.

Next up was Wild Bill, the story of a former prisoner who reluctantly begins to bond with his teenage sons. It's written and directed by Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels star Dexter Fletcher, and many attendees said that his Q&A was the best they'd yet attended. Asked some smart questions by Amara, who was making the most of her festival trip, Dexter went on to talk to just about everybody there, signing autographs for fans outside before settling back in the bar at the end of the night.

Much of the festival inevitably revolves around the free drink, and this year nobody seems to have been enjoying it quite as much as Mark and Nacho. The latter reportedly ended the night by eating two biscuits he had stolen from dogs and declaring himself their Caesar. Who knows what will become of those two by the end of the festival? Perhaps they are like the two lost souls in the strangest film of the night, Finisterrrae – sheet-shrouded ghosts travelling to the end of the world. What lies beyond it? Find out next time.

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