True north

GFF Days 2 & 3: Nick Higgins, James Cosmo, Billy Connolly and (not) dying at the end.

by Jennie Kermode

Introducing Lore.
Introducing Lore. Photo: Max Crawford

The Glasgow Film Festival got into full swing on Friday with audiences flooding in to see black comedy Bernie, cheeky docurnentary The Final Member and existential drama Beyond The Hills. Particularly popular was Scottish, German and Australian co-production Lore, with Billy Connelly among those taking a seat to watch the story of a teenage girl taking her younger siblings across a broken Germany after the end of World War Two. The screening was followed by a party at the Blythswood Hotel, with large quantities of wine helping to get the conversation flowing.

Later that night, comics legend Mark Millar kicked off his Kapow!@GFF strand with a screening of Highlander. Populaire director Régis Roinsard had already spoken of his childhood love for this film - "I really wanted to be Scottish. And immortal." - and there were plenty of fans in attendance with similar feelings, even though it was running opposite a screening of the eagerly anticipated science fiction adventure John Dies At The End. Fortunately, those who felt torn would have another chance to catch the latter the following afternoon.

Although there was no shortage of social events to choose from during the day, it was Popcorn II: Electric Boogaloo that lasted longest into the night. Held at the Flying Duck, it featured a selection of local bands playing cover versions of their favourite film theme tunes. Elsewhere, a carnival-themed party launched the festival's Brazilian strand with free drinks and Samba dancing.

The following afternoon, James Cosmo, star of films from The Battle Of Britain to Braveheart, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe to Trainspotting, arrived at the festival to talk about his career. Looking forward as well as back, he spoke enthusiastically about the potential of Scottish film and his hope that, if the Scottish government gets more control over finances, it can attract more productions to the country. Remembering attempts to develop a film studio outside Inverness led to a focus on the dramatic landscapes Scotland has to offer, as seen recently in Skyfall, which has already boosted tourist numbers in Glencoe.

We Are Northern Lights. Photo by Max Crawford.
We Are Northern Lights. Photo by Max Crawford. Photo: Max Crawford

Scottish potential was also the theme of a parallel event, We Are Northen Lights. If all its directors had been present at the première, there wouldn't have been room for an audience, but a few - including Eye For Film's own Stuart Crawford - did turn up to discuss their work. With what one word would Stuart describe the result? "Braw," he said, and lead director Nick Higgins was also pretty pleased, stressing that this makes a change from foreign productions turning up to present their visions of the country (as in the BAFTA winning Brave) because it's about Scots speaking with their own voices. Curiously, he said he'd actually received very little material about politics, with most people focusing on details of their own lives to create a tapestry portrait of a nation at a key moment in its history. It's a film that benefits from exemplry editing - especially when you consider that they had to work through 300 hours of footage to create what you see on the screen.

Scottish company Park Circus Pictures were around later to show their restored version of Sunset Boulevard, and had interesting things to say about their work on the alernative version of Frank Oz's Little Shop Of Horrors, due out later this year. If you're a fan of the film, this is something you won't want to miss, and a big screen will show it as its best.

Dredd fans meet John Wagner.
Dredd fans meet John Wagner.

Also screening on Saturday were insightful documentary A Tale Of Two Syrias, migration drama Here And There, and After Lucia, the challenging story of a bullied boy. Steve Coogan fans got a chance to see the actor ply a porn baron in Michael Winterbottom's The Look Of Love and a highlight of the evening schedule was Oldboy director Park Chan-Wook's twisted family drama Stoker. There was also a second chance to see recent superhero hit Dredd following a visit from producer John Wagner. Meanwhile, Obscure Couture presented a fashion show inspired by fairy princesses, mermaids and unicorns, and elsewhere The Arches opened up their dancefloors with Kluster's Dieter Mobius providing a live score for silent classic Metropolis. It was a spectacula end to a busy two days, but there's still much more to come.

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We're looking forward to the 25th edition of Fantasia, horror favourite Frightfest and the 55th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

We've recently covered the Cannes Film Festival, Tribeca, the Cheltenham International Film Festival, Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ festival Inside Out, New York's Human Rights Watch Film Festival and New Directors/New Films.

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