Grand finale

GFF Diary days 11 & 12: Retro revelry and the thrills and chills of Frightfest.

by Jennie Kermode

Fans gather for the closing gala.
Fans gather for the closing gala. Photo: Eoin Carey

Saturday morning at the Glasgow Film Festival was a treat for kids, with a choice between a gig screen re-run of The Incredibles and the impish insect adventures of the Maya The Bee Movie. For older people not yet willing to give up on the fun they had in childhood, a screening of lost pirate treasure adventure The Goonies proved a big attraction. Part of a day of retro fun. it was followed by documentary The King Of Kong at Drygate, with old style arcade machines brought in so that attendees could have fun playing their old favourites. Later there was Dazed And Confused and a roller disco, with some people dressing up specially and, remarkably, no serious injuries, though most skaters were quite out of practice.

Picking up speed at the roller disco.
Picking up speed at the roller disco. Photo: Eoin Carey

Most of the day was devoted to giving festival fans a chance to catch up on great films they’d missed at earlier screenings, but there were a few gems showing for the first time, including Glasgow-made Wasted Time, an ultra low budget drama created by Shooters, a company dedicated to improving chances for young people and helping rehabilitate prisoners. Mostly shot inside the confines of the notorious Barlinnie Prison, it mixed inmates with trained actors and the result is surprisingly impressive. It was the first time some of the guys there to introduce it had walked a red carpet and there was a far bit of bashfulness involved, but the film introduces some promising new talent.

All the gang from Wasted Time.
All the gang from Wasted Time. Photo: Stuart Crawford

Also on Saturday was the second half of Frightfest. It was packed as usual, with some fans bringing sleeping bags and headrests, as well as large supplies of food, so that they could move as little as possible once the screenings started. There was a lot of excitement about new body horror / slasher film Clown, produced by Eli Roth, and about the eagerly awaited [REC] 4: Apocalypse (which, to everyone’s surprise, still managed to do something new with its familiar format), whilst Mario Bava classic Blood And Black Lace went down a treat. Most people’s favourite, however, was The Treatment, which is odd because, as its visiting director, Hans Herbots, pointed out, it’s not really a horror film. He was surprised when it started being picked up by horror festivals after being ignored by others as a crime thriller whose subject matter is too horrific or any viewers to stomach. At first, he said, he felt awkward about this, but to his surprise he discovered that the horror fans he met were unusually well educated about film and asked intelligent questions. He clearly loved Frightfest, as did its regular fans, most of whom walked away that night with gifted DVDs to keep them happy over the coming weeks.

The Glasgow Film Festival team.
The Glasgow Film Festival team. Photo: Eoin Carey

Sunday provided the final chance to see the Internet Cat Video Festival, and despite there being two screenings, it was still packed. A number of pointy ears and furry tails were visible in the ticket queue despite strict notice that no actual cats were allowed to attend. Other highlights of the day were vintage Glasgow drama Small Faces, animated treat The Adventures Of Prince Achmed and London set tales of two cities The Ninth Cloud whose director, Jane Spencer, shared her thoughts on the film with us a few months ago. The festival formally came to a close in the evening with a gala screening of Force Majeure. This also saw the bestowing of the first ever GFF Audience Award, which went to independent British film Radiator. Writer/director Tom Browne said the award made him “terrifically happy” and thanked fans for being so kind and so willing to engage at the Q&As he participated in with stars Richard Johnson and Gemma Jones.

After the formalities were over and the screenings had been a success, the remainder of the festival team, a handful of the world’s most famous graphic novel creatives and assorted lingering stars set off to party, finally able to relax and consumer what remained of the lager supplied to the festival by Heineken. They had a lot to celebrate, having once again sold over 40,000 tickets despite the non-participation of Cineworld, which meant they couldn’t show as many films as last year. “This year might just have been the best Glasgow Film Festival ever,” said festival director Allison Gardner. “Thanks so much to our wonderful audience: you make all the hard work worth it.”

Next year’s festival will run from 17 to 28 February and you’ll be able to read all about it right here.

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