Going underground

GFF days 4 & 5: James D'Arcy, daleks and the secret of the subway.

by Jennie Kermode

On Sunday morning, strange rumours began to circulate about the GFT, where the Glasgow Film Festival is centered. Something had been seen gliding through the foyer. Was it safe to go? Would it scare away the crowds? On further investigation, it emerged that the metal monster was everybody's favourite alien menace, a dalek - and far from being deterred, film fans were queueing round the block.

A dalek stalks festival fans. Photo by Max Crawford.
A dalek stalks festival fans. Photo by Max Crawford. Photo: Max Crawford

50 Years Of Doctor Who proved to be one of the day's most popular attractions, with screenwriter Tom MacRae there to introduce his favourite episode and talk about the experience of working with the travelling time lord. It was part of an anniversary celebration extending throughout the festival and attracting young and old alike.

History was also the theme in Cinema One, which saw the first high profile screening of The Happy Lands, a story of Fife mining folk made in part by the miners themselves and their descendants. Several were in attendance to talk to the public about their memories of the 1926 General Strike. Meanwhile, at Cineworld, 80 Million provided an insight into Polish history with its true story of Solidarity activists defying state clampdowns by setting out to steal a small fortune from themselves.

Fantasy became dominant in the evening with huge crowds turning out for the eagerly anticipated Scottish première of Cloud Atlas. To add to their excitement, star James D'Arcy, who plays multiple roles within the film, was there to introduce it. Elsewhere, Nicole Kidman feature the Paperboy drew fans who said it was terrible but they loved it - see what Nicole herself told us about it here - while Compliance was hailed as a superb film that left audiences miserable.

It's a Calamity!
It's a Calamity! Photo: Max Crawford

Meanwhile, at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow's acclaimed Auricle Ensemble provided a thrilling live score for The City, a silent film celebration of the World Fair in New York. The Grand Ole Opry screened Calamity Jane with a barn dance to follow, including line dancing lessons and both kinds of music - country and western - while another group of film fans headed down into the mysterious depths of a silent St Enoch underground station to face an unknown fate. Nothing was heard from them for over an hour until, finally, a faint cry emerged - "Warriors, come out to play!" There on the platform they'd been treated to a secret showing of Walter Hill's cult favourite The Warriors, and the response was almost universal delight.

After such a busy night, fans were slow to emerge the following morning, but the action stared early with Jimmy Cagney thriller The Roaring Twenties, part of a retrospective tribute to the original tough guy star. Later highlights included documentaries Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines and About Face: Supermodels Then And Now, plus the challenging Turkish-Austrian story of an arranged marriage, Kuma. Most popular in the evening was a screening of Good Vibrations, the story of Terri Hooley and the Belfast record shop that, among other things, led to the discovery of the Undertones.

In the Central Hotel, a crowd was beginning to gather in anticipation of Entre Chien Et Loup, a special event said to have been funded by the mysterious Randolph Kemp Potter and themed around the Gold Ballroom from The Shining. There wasn't much evidence of Shining-related trappings but there were two models playing ping pong in the entrance chamber whilst staff members carried around plates of cola bottles and pink foam shrimp sweets. Further in, a series of short films (with the inevitable strobe) played to an audience heavily comprised of Scottish art critics. There was some impressive singing and, later on, a rather less impressive performance by a man attached to a papier-maché hobby horse, which one punter desribed as making him want to smoke heroin - but you can't win them all, right?

Burnistoun creator Robert Florence had been worried that his event that night might not be a success due to the rather chilly reception of new game Aliens: Colonial Marines by fans, but sometimes in cinema, magic happens, and in fact it proved once of the most celebrated events of the festival so far. Everyone loved the discussion panel and, of course, the chance to see Aliens itself on the big screen. We hope they managed to sleep afterwards, because there are plenty more festival adventures yet to come.

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We've recently covered New Directors/New Films andTallinn Black Nights, DOC NYC, Sheffield DocFest, the London Korean Film Festival, Welsh horror festival Abertoir, New York's Newfest, the October edition of Frightfest, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

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