Frights and delights

GFF diary days 9, 10 & 11: Thomas Imbach, Paul Brannigan, politics, punk, horror and Hollywood.

by Jennie Kermode

The Under The Skin cast and crew on the red carpet.
The Under The Skin cast and crew on the red carpet. Photo: Stuart Crawford

Friday was the day of the César Awards, so it made sense that it should begin with a screening of Quai D'Orsay at the Glasgow Film Festival. The biting French political satire would go on to help Niels Arestrup win a Best Supporting Actor gong, and President Hollande was probably counting his blessings when its star Julie Gayet, with whom he had an affair (and, more scandalously, got caught) missed out on Best Supporting Actress. A sort of Gallic In The Loop, this film could well help to revive the French film industry, which has struggled over the past year, due to it added real life political cachet.

Lauren Mayberry introducing The Punk Singer.
Lauren Mayberry introducing The Punk Singer. Photo: Stuart Crawford

Also screening on Friday were Tangerines, a portrait of an village caught in the throes of the Abkhazian War, and contemplative Spanish romance Love Is Not What It Used To Be. In the evening, Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES introduced Kathleen Hanna biopic The Punk Singer whilst a Monster Mash tribute to Young Frankenstein was held amid the Gothic splendour of Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, including a screening of the film with a live organ performance. Elsewhere, in The Arches, Julien Temple's Requiem For Detroit? explored the death and rebirth of the Michigan city alongside a DJ set by one of its foremost techno talents, Carl Craig, which went on late into the night.

Festival regulars will realise this is only half of Friday's story, as it also marked the start of a two day Frightfest event that was sold out within hours of tickets becoming available. Alongside the films, which included troubling psychodrama Proxy and sinister cult thriller The Sacrament, there were prize giveaways and opportunities to meet the filmmakers. The mini-festival ran on into the small hours and then kicked off again at 11am the next day, but the crowd was not noticeably smaller for documentary Video Nasties: Draconian Days, which was introduced by director Jake West and producer Mark Morris. The favourite film of its second day seemed to be Mindscape, a futuristic depiction of what might be called analysis or interrogation, depending on one's viewpoint. We'll aim to bring you reviews of some of these films over the next few days.

Fans meet Proxy director Zack Parker.
Fans meet Proxy director Zack Parker. Photo: Stuart Crawford

Saturday saw film fans climb about The Tall Ship on the Clyde for a trio of watery themed films inspired by the success of Jaws at last year's festival. This time around, things started out in a gentler fashion with Seveties kids' favourite Pete's Dragon. This was followed by The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and then, at night, by horror classic The Fog. Although the weather didn't oblige there was plennty of cloud and no shortage of shivers.

Whilst all this was going on, the GFT held the Scottish première of Mary, Queen Of Scots, introduced by its director, Thomas Imbach. A couple of weeks ago we spoke to star Camille Rutherford about playing Mary and she expressed her worry that she might let Scots down in portraying such an important historical figure, but there was no need for such concern, as the film proved a big hit with the audience.

Also premièring that afternoon was charming French coming of age story You'll Be A Man, whose star Jules Sagot bravely soldiered on through an introduction and interview despite apparently having food poisoning and looking quite ill. He was rewarded for his efforts by another highly positive audience response.

It was a good day for French film, with Asghar Farhadi's Paris-shot The Past also screening. Fans also had a chance to see poetic Guatemalan migration story The Golden Dream and Nigerian-set drama Half Of A Yellow Sun, starring Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor. The latter was introduced by director Biyi Bandele and producer Andrea Calderwood.

The British Olympic Curling Team showing off their medals.
The British Olympic Curling Team showing off their medals. Photo: Stuart Crawford

On its final day the festival opened with the last of its Vintage Hollywood classics and one of the best loved, The Wizard Of Oz. What followed was a day for fans to catch up on some of the best films already screened, in the run up to a spectacular closing gala. Under The Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as a beautiful, lonely alien stalking the streets of Glasgow in search of human prey. It was represented by director Jonathan Glazer and star Paul Brannigan, whilst other stars walking the red carpet included comic art legend Frank Quitely and the victorious British Olympic men's curling team in full highland dress. The festival concluded with a spectacular party, with everyone in a good mood because they had just discovered that the festival has sold over 40,000 tickets, making it very close to being the biggest such event in Scotland.

And until next year, that's all, folks.

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