Mad for it

GFF Diary days 11&12: David Tennant, Frightfest and The Princess Bride.

by Jennie Kermode

The GFF closing gala party at the CCA
The GFF closing gala party at the CCA

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival came to a close over Saturday and Sunday, but there was an impressive collection of films packed into that time. Some viewers caught up on earlier festival highlights as they got additional screenings, but there were also a few interesting choices that had been saved until the end. First among these was Mimosas, which may have seemed familiar to some viewers because it shares footage with one of last year’s festival choices, The Sky Trembles And The Earth Is Afraid And The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers. Both blend fact and fiction to tell strange tales of life in the mountains and deserts of Morocco, with the latter telling the fictional story of what happens to Oliver Laxe, director of the former, after he strays from the set halfway through filming.

Taking in a treasure map at The Princess Bride
Taking in a treasure map at The Princess Bride Photo: Ingrid Mur

The stories of other people displaced from ordinary life were told in observational documentary Spectres Are Haunting Europe, which looks at refugees trapped in a camp in Greece. A middle aged women fights to hold onto her home when it’s threatened by a scheming businessman in Aquarius, which several people cited as one of their festival favourites; star Sônia Braga recently spoke to us about making it. Also popular was The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Mäki, the story of a Finnish boxer falling in love.

Frightfest was still running on Saturday, with a seven film line-up, though several people said that they could happily have slept through the first film, tourists-in-peril thriller Cage Dive, which had them rooting for the sharks. It was followed by strange tale of addiction Fashionista, which met with quite a bit of admiration (and some confusion) and drew comparisons with the work of David Lynch. It was introduced by director Simon Rumley, star Amanda Fuller and producer Bob Portal. Director Steven Kastrissios then introduced Albania’s first ever horror film, Bloodlands, which elicited mixed responses.

Apparently last year there were complaints about the language used by some of the Frightfest team members during introductions, so this year’s mini festival had a swear jar on hand. It was fortunate that it didn’t apply to language in the films themselves, especially as the day wore on, but it was the cause of much amusement. The middle film of the day was Detour, the latest work by Triangle director Chris Smith, who was there to discuss it. It was followed by Raw, a cautionary tale about what can happen when a vegetarian tastes flesh, which wasn’t nearly as gory as some of the hype had suggested; then by disturbing Australian kidnap dram Hounds Of Love, which is based on a true story and was, according to our correspondent, a tough watch but one of the best films of the festival.

Talking Bloodlands at Frightfest
Talking Bloodlands at Frightfest Photo: Alyn J Smith

Finally, there was Night Of The Virgin, presented by director Roberto Sa Sebastian, who declared that he was thrilled to be in London and proudly introduced his film as an unwatchable piece of shit and an insult to cinema. It may indeed have been the kind of film that’s more fun after a drink or five, but he gave everybody in the audience free condoms and masks, so nobody was complaining.

Saturday also featured two special screenings of The Princess Bride at Maryhill Burgh Halls. The first welcomed children and included an exciting treasure hunt with an enchanted forest, a fire swamp and much more besides. Young attendees enjoyed dressing up and there were grown-up pirates on hand to supervise. Both this and the evening screening featured displays of sword fighting, and the latter also had pirate cocktails available for attendees to enjoy.

David Tennant is Mad To Be Normal
David Tennant is Mad To Be Normal Photo: Eoin Carey

Sunday morning featured the final film in the Dangerous Dames strand, more recent film noir The Last Seduction, which proved to have a lot of fans. There was also a screening of nostalgic Indian documentary Original Copy, which looks at the dying art of painting film posters. In the evening, fans lined up all along Rose Street to see Doctor Who star David Tennant arrive on the red carpet. He was accompanied by Robert Mullan, the producer of his latest film, Mad To Be Normal, which screened at the festival’s closing gala. Tennant was clearly thrilled to be there and spent quite some time posing for selfies with fans before going inside. He also helped bring the festival to a conclusion by giving out the Audience Award, which this year went to Lipstick Under My Burkha. As Muslim leaders in Bhopal called for a boycott of the film, which has already been denied general release in India, director Alankrita Shrivastava thanked festival attendees for the award and took it with her to the after party at the CCA, where the fun went on until people gradually drifted away to watch the Oscars or went to their beds. As for us, we’ll pick up the story again next year.

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