Music and memories

GFF Diary days 5&6: Alastair Cole, Roland Moller, Lou McLoughlan and a cowgirl showdown.

by Jennie Kermode

Allan Hunter chats to Colours Of The Alphabet director Alastair Cole and producer Nick Higgins.
Allan Hunter chats to Colours Of The Alphabet director Alastair Cole and producer Nick Higgins. Photo: Stuart Crawford

Days five and six of the Glasgow Film Festival may have lacked the big events of the first few days but they more than made up for it in terms of good films and audience engagement. Sunday kicked off with the outlawry and derring-do of Errol Flynn classic The Adventures Of Robin Hood, getting everybody in a great mood. Last year’s New York Film Festival opener Miles Ahead, a breezy look at the life of jazz legend Miles Davis, screened at lunchtime, along with The White Knights, a drama based around the 2007 Zoe’s Ark controversy in which members of a charity team were arrested for trafficking in children they said were war orphans. There was also a screening of The Colours Of The Alphabet accompanied by a fascinating Q&A with director Alastair Cole and producer Nick Higgins, which focused further on the complexity of providing education in Zambia, where 73 different languages are spoken.

Lou McLoughlan answers questions about 16 Years Till Summer
Lou McLoughlan answers questions about 16 Years Till Summer Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

By far the most popular film of the day, and many people’s professed favourite so far this year, was Sing Street, which balanced music and comedy in the tale of an Irish boy who starts a band to try and impress a girl. Several people asked where they can by the soundtrack but as far as we’re aware it hasn’t been released yet. Anime The Boy And The Beast also received a lot of praise, especially for its action-packed last 20 minutes. Land Of Mine ventured into much darker territory, looking at how the Allies used German prisoners to clear landmines after World War Two, and actor Roland Moller, whose performance was widely praised, gave a talk afterwards, answering questions about both the film and the story behind it.

The evening saw an Argentinean couple’s relationship unravel under pressure in The Fire whilst shifting relationships between three friends – and the choice between love and money – illuminated modern China in Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart. A wide eyed young lawyer played detective in How To Win Enemies and a teenage girl set out to track down missing scientists in quirky French animation April And The Extraordinary World[/film] and the famous Milgram Experiment was dramatised in Experimenter, which we recently discussed with director Michael Almereyda. There was also the Scottish première of 16 Years Till Summer, which was adapted from the short Caring For Calum and follows a highland man trying to set himself back on the straight and narrow after spending time in prison. Its subject’s brother was there to see it and joined director Lou McLoughlan to talk about it afterwards.

That night, things went Wild West crazy down at the Grand Ole Opry for a special 25th anniversary screening of Thelma And Louise. This was another night when audience members – mostly female – brought along their own hats, and there was line dancing to get them in the mood before the film began. With several discounts arranged at the bar, there was also some enthusiastic drinking. Unfortunately this corresponded with the arrival of the usual festival cold (an inevitable result of bringing lots of people together from many different locations), so there were a few sore heads. The good news is that this year’s infection seems to be a short-lived one, so festival fans who are feeling under the weather shouldn’t worry about the rest of the event being spoiled for them.

Mark Millar interviews Philippe Guedj and Philippe Roure
Mark Millar interviews Philippe Guedj and Philippe Roure Photo: Stuart Crawford

Monday morning saw fans swooning over Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, another of those fabulous free morning films, after which Chevalier presented the comedic adventures of six of the sort of men who looked like easy marks for characters like hers, engaged in games of one-upmanship aboard a boat. The Brand New Testament – one of several César nominees playing at the festival entertained fans later in the day while the darker content of Paulina (about a young teacher in a rough area who is determined being raped won’t change her behaviour) and Winter (about a family trying to cope with an alcoholic dad) won those films lots of praise and kept attendees talking about them all night.

Cheerful tale of redemption through music The Violin Teacher helped to cheer people up after these challenging films but by far the most popular choice of the night was Demolition, with Jake Gyllenhaal praised by fans for a sensitive performance which brought humour and even joy to a film about bereavement. Also showing was documentary The Pearl Button, a poetic exploration of the history of Chile which we might have pushed a little too hard before the festival began because it sold out early, with some fans disappointed as a result – here’s hoping it gets a well deserved UK DVD release. Finally, we couldn’t end without mentioning The Road To Civil War: Marvel Renaissance, a huge hit with the self-professed geeks in attendance, which incorporated one of the most interesting Q&As of the festival – directors Philippe Guedj and Philippe Roure explaining to Mark Millar how they had managed to make it without any cooperation from Marvel at all, which meant they couldn’t use any film clips or show any comics – not an easy feat when filming in comic shops and artists’ studios. It’s access to this kind of insight that makes festival discussions so interesting and you can look forward to many more of them over the days to come.

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