Thrills and spills

GFF diary days 3&4: Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Vic Armstrong, Aidan Moffat and Chuckles the Xenomorph.

by Jennie Kermode

Give me some of your Earth popcorn!
Give me some of your Earth popcorn! Photo: Stuart Crawford

After a dramatic start marked by Roman antics and prison breakouts, the Glasgow Film Festival settled down a little on Friday morning. A vibrant screening of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic Swing Time was followed by a chance to catch up on some of the previous evening’ most popular films. Fans were disappointed that Peter Greenaway would not be attending the festival as planned to give a talk and introduce his latest work, Eisenstein In Guanajuato, but the screening itself still went down a treat, as beautiful as people expected even if it didn’t seem likely to have the staying power of some of his previous work.

Aidan Moffat blasts through a ballad
Aidan Moffat blasts through a ballad

Showing at the same time were two films about the challenges facing ill people and their carers. Nise – the Heart Of Madness tells the story of the woman who developed the use of art therapy in psychiatric institutions, and had some viewers in tears. James White looks at one young man’s experience of caring for his ailing mother. It has been nominated for quite a few award but was notably overlooked for this year’s Oscars, despite a terrific supporting performance by Cynthia Nixon, and will now go straight to DVD in the UK. Viewers were quite vocal about the unfairness of this as they left the screening.

The big event of the evening was a screening of Where You’re Meant To Be at the Glasgow Barrowlands, accompanied by a live performance from one of its stars, Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat. This was enormously popular with fans, who were, admittedly, bribed with copies of Moffat’s new EP. The film chart’s the indie musician’s adventures as he explores Scotland’s ballad traditions and the tension between preserving old forms and, as he seeks to do, updating them and making them appealing to a younger audience.

A screening of gentle Argentinean fable Road To La Paz was followed later that night by Rutger Hauer horror classic The Hitcher and new horror film Évolution, which proved the biggest audience ht of the day even though a lot of people went away saying that it made them feel queasy or they didn’t understand it. Others were cheering the festival’s success in finding interesting genre films by female directors, who just don’t get the level of exposure they deserve elsewhere. Lucile Hadzihalilovic turned up for a lively Q&A afterwards.

Lucile Hadžihalilović talks Évolution
Lucile Hadžihalilović talks Évolution Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

Saturday kicked off with a nostalgic screening of Lady And The Tramp and then went straight on to Disney’s latest venture, Zootropolis, which features a bold bunny trying to prove herself as a police officer in a city where herbivores are not expected to amount to much. It proved to be another big audience hit. Mickey Mouse bags with plastic carrot toy gifts inside may have helped a bit, but may people were talking about going to see it again.

Later that day the tone got more serious, with Dheepan exploring the refugee crisis (on the same day that Italian documentary Fuocoammare won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale for telling the story of those trying to reach Lampedusa) and The People Vs Fritz Bauer looking at one man’s determined work to bring Nazi officers to justice after the Second World War. Bauer, of course, is also featured in Labyrinth Of Lies, which screened earlier in the festival. Guilty adapted the true story of a possible miscarriage of justice in India, and there was also a poignant tribute to Chantal Akerman in the form of No Home Movie, which left attendees talking wistfully about what we have lost.

There were plenty of opportunities to get back in the party mood as evening set in, and few more exciting than the festival’s gala screening of Raiders Of The Lost Ark in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Harrison Ford’s own stuntman Vic Armstrong, who had given a talk at the festival the previous night, stole the show by cracking his bullwhip and making a daring escape live in the hall in a recreation of one of cinema’s most famous stunts. He wasn’t the only one dressed as Indiana Jones, however, with more fedoras in the audience than you’d see at a George Galloway convention. Live organ music from Chris Nickol set the mood, reminiscent of the old matinee movies that the film itself was inspired by, and a great night was had by all.

Balls to Indiana!
Balls to Indiana! Photo: Ingrid Mur

Across the river in the Glasgow Imax, events were taking a more sinister turn. Rumour had it that a xenomorph by the name of Chuckles was loose on the premises and must not, at any cost, be allowed to consume sugar, but fortunately the local space marines turned out to have it under control – at least temporarily. They were there to usher people into a giant size screening of Aliens which provided the big scares fans had been hoping for. Unfortunately, right at the end of the screening, Chuckles escaped and terrorised the back row before the marines were able to distract him with popcorn and make a successful recapture.

Two other classics brought the evening to a close. One was The Silence Of the Lambs, also in Kelvingrove Museum, with live organ music and a nice Chianti. The other was David Bowie concert film Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, which wasn’t supposed to involve and special events but which ended up with quite a few audience members dancing in the aisles. It was a fitting end to an exciting two days – and there’s still much more to come.

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