Fantasy, fright and fiction

GFF days 8 & 9: big stars, big launches and big screen games.

by Jennie Kermode

Thursday morning at the Glasgow Film Festival offered the chance to catch up on some of the best films screened there so far, plus some strong new ones, including the thoughtful drama about assisted dying A Few Hours Of Spring. A young women's boyfriend falling for another man called for a re-examination of contemporary relationships in The Sex Of The Angels, sexual tension turned domesticity upside down in In The House, and there was tense drama in A Hijacking, Andrew Robertson's favourite of the festival so far.

Shell star Chloe Pirrie having fun at the GFF. Picture by Max Crawford.
Shell star Chloe Pirrie having fun at the GFF. Picture by Max Crawford. Photo: Max Crawford

Things took a fantasy twist later in the day with a special event at the CCA including a chance to see popular game Dark Souls on the big screen, with action by its most celebrated players, introduced by Robert Florence and followed by a screening of Solomon Kane. At the GFT, Game Of Thrones got the big screen treatment, while at Cineworld Everybody Has A Plan saw Viggo Mortensen as a man pursuing the fantasy of taking on his dying brother's identity, and finding himself in trouble as a result.

Science fiction fans were able to round off their evening with a real treat - a screening of early John Carpenter work Dark Star accompanied by a new soundtrack performed live by Sheffield electronica ensemble Animat. The event proved enormously popular and certainly seemed less nerve-racking than one of the alternatives, which involved stepping aboard the Tall Ship to watch Jaws. Meanwhile, in the city's West End, a brand new Cinecafe opened in the Poetry Club with a showing of Gangster No 1, and at the GFT there was a gala screening of Shell attended by star Chloe Pirrie.

The following morning there was another special launch event as Scotland's first Mediatheque opened for business. Film fans were invited to visit the Olympia bulding in Bridegton where a vast new collection of archive material, all free to access, is housed. An introductory talk was given and there was a chance to explore, with special emphasis on the Scottish collection which includes not just features and short films but also valuable historical records of everyday life.

Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton. Picture by Eoin Carey.
Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton. Picture by Eoin Carey. Photo: Eoin Carey

Friday also saw the launch of this year's Frightfest, always one of the festival's most popular events. This year it sold out within just a few days a tickets becoming available, but some fans still waited for hours in the GFT foyer on the offchance of getting their hands on returned tickets. Spending time there also gave them a chance of meeting some of the many special guests attending the Frightfest films, including the whole leading cast of gory Scottish favourite Sawney: Flesh Of Man. Neil Jordan, Stephen Woolley, Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan were present for the première of vampire thriller Byzantium.

Also screening that day were some lesser known but highly impressive independent films, including heart warming (and truly strange) science fiction comedy The History Of Future Folk and angry, energetic Polish drama Women's Day. The social impact of music was explored in The Secret Disco Revolution, a darker side of music emerged in Cream documentary Beware Of Mr Baker and anarchy, sexuality and art merged in extraordinary Brazilian film Rat Fever.

As Frightfest attendees enjoyed Detention Of The Dead, the main part of the festival rounded off with Robert Florence taking over the CCA and inviting friends and fans alike to come by and play video games on the big screen. There were free beers for winners and free pakora all round. With live comedy and a few surprises, it was a relaxing but still entertaining end to a busy night and a chance to recover before the hectic activity of the festival's final two days.

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