A surfeit of riches

GFF Diary days 5 & 6: Paul Merton, the Margaret Tait Award, and live Dungeons & Dragons.

by Jennie Kermode

Going back in time with The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Going back in time with The Fall Of The House Of Usher Photo: Jassy Earl

Every day at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival is starting with an Ingrid Bergman film, in tribute to the star. Sunday’s was overlooked Hitchcock gem Spellbound. More moody atmospheric drama than taut thriller, it’s perhaps the best of the master’s works to watch when drowsy, which was certainly the state f some who had been at the previous night’s ceilidh. At noon, Brazilian animation The Boy And The World enchanted audiences with its bizarre blend of styles, both visual and musical. There was also a second chance to catch the Internet Cat Video Festival, which reminded us that film fans have been called upon to help a cat in trouble. When Listen Up Philip screened at Cannes last year, viewers and critics alike praised its feline star, Fluffy. Sadly, Fluffy has since developed lymphoma, being a film star isn’t as lucrative as you might think, and his owners are seeking help to pay for his treatment. If you’d like to see him grace the screen again someday, please give what you can.

Rab Florence plays Dungeons & Dragons
Rab Florence plays Dungeons & Dragons Photo: Max Crawford

Later on Sunday, there was a chance for festival attendees to see Cannes hit Clouds Of Sils Maria and the highly acclaimed Rosewater. Also showing was Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders’ tribute to photographer Sebastião Salgado, The Salt Of The Earth, and there was a chance to see Australian film 52 Tuesdays, one of few films covering the subject of gender transition to actually star a trans person (admittedly of a different type). Actually focused on that character’s daughter, it had a strong appeal to young people in the audience.

The evening also saw two major events take place. One of these was a screening of 1928 silent classic The Fall Of The House Of Usher in the elegant surroundings of Pollockshaws Hall, where it was accompanied by a live score by composer and musician Irene Buckley, using an original Würlitzer cinema organ. Unfortunately one festival team member, who shall remain unnamed, had made an extra effort for this event and dressed up as a ghost, but went into the wrong building and accidentally gatecrashed a stranger’s wedding. The other event was Dungeons & Dragons Live, which saw comedian and film director Rab Florence sitting around with his mates doing table top roleplaying. Some readers may be surprised to learn that it drew a full house, but as several members of the audience had the chance to join the game, everybody there seemed to have a great time.

Ron Scalpello and Alan McKenna face the Pressure
Ron Scalpello and Alan McKenna face the Pressure Photo: Max Crawford

Monday brought festival circuit hit A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence to the GFT, with our review, Donald Munro, coming away looking rather confused and saying that he no longer thinks David Lynch films are strange. He also caught post-war melodrama Phoenix, his pick of the festival so far. Later, brooding Turkish drama Mardan brought a little mystery to the GFT, there was the UK première of Xavier Dolan’s surprise César winner Mommy, and director Ron Scalpello and actor Alan McKenna introduced their new deep sea thriller Pressure. There was also a rare chance to see Children Of Men on the big screen – it’s a film whose innovative technique is al the more impressive in retrospect.

Comedian Paul Merton and pianist Neil Brand were in the Old Fruitmarket that evening to perform a special live action tribute to The General star Buster Keaton, whom Merton cites as the inspiration behind his career. Meanwhile, at the GFT, the Margaret Tait Award was celebrated with the première of Nancy Holt: Sun Tunnels / Revolve, the work produced by last year’s winner, Charlotte Prodger. The artist gave a talk about her work and there was more free drink and sushi than those assembled could consume, a tragedy which, we are proud to say, our writer helped to alleviate. We don’t blame others for their caution – after all, we are only halfway through the festival, and there’s a great deal of excitement left to come.

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