You, me and the undead

GFF Diary days 5&6: David Tennant, Robert de Young and zombies on the loose

by Jennie Kermode

Zombies on the loose in Glasgow
Zombies on the loose in Glasgow Photo: Ingrid Mur

Another day at the Glasgow Film Festival, another groundhog – the gift that keeps on giving – but for many film fans, Sunday began with a special free screening of James Dean classic Rebel Without A Cause, a film that has been on a lot of people’s minds since the re-opening of the Natalie Wood murder investigation. It was warmly received, as was documentary Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches, charting the life of the Australian actor who gave Hollywood a few surprises. Writer/director Robert de Young and writer Stephan Wellink answered audience questions after the screening.

Taliking You, Me And Him
Taliking You, Me And Him Photo: Pete Copeland

The most popular film of the evening, without a doubt, was Harry Dean Stanton’s swansong, Lucky, with some viewers in floods of tears as they watched the 96 year old actor doing his thing alongside David Lynch and a tortoise. There was also a lot of praise for the Oscar-nominated Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, with its stunning performance by Daniela Vega as a bereaved women battling prejudice; and for the haunting archive footage documentary Arcadia, which some described as ‘folk horror’. Also screening were Chinese new wave realist drama Old Beast, Romani coming of age tale The Ciambra, refugee crisis documentary Another News Story (with director Orban Wallace and producer Verity Wislocki in attendance) and Agnès Varda’s award-winning documentary Faces, Places.

Although responses to romcom You, Me And Him were mixed, there was universal enthusiasm about the appearance of star David Tennant, director Daisy Aitkens and producer Georgia Moffett. The former Doctor Who, who was full of praise for his successor in that role, spent a long time outside the cinema signing autographs and taking selfies with fans before the screening, and stuck around for a lengthy discussion afterwards. He compared beards (his now gone but visible onscreen) with festival director Allan Hunter, but was caught off guard when one fan professing love for the film claimed to have seen it five times already. “Legally?” he asked.

The Margaret Tait Award reception
The Margaret Tait Award reception Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

For those who like their cinema with a little more bite, Sunday was a very special day. It saw several teams of friends summoned to participate in what some called a treasure hunt but others insisted was an attempt to trace the source of a zombie outbreak. Unfortunately, tracking down zombies is sometimes successful, and as the various participants got closer to the city centre, they found themselves encountering more and more of the shuffling undead. Eventually they found some security in the Buchanan Galleries shopping mall, where local anti-zombie leader (and film festival director) Allison Gardner provided them with bags of supplies including syringes of liquid that just might have been the cure. They were then treated to an atmospheric screening of George Romero classic Dawn Of The Dead.

The following day was a little more sedate. Groundhogs aside, there was a chance to see the work of Margaret Tait award winner Sarah Forrest and catch powerful documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, whose director, Alexandra Dean, we interviewed recently. We’ve also recently chatted to Samuel Maoz, director of Foxtrot, which was among the evening’s highlights.

The evening also saw a screening of César nominated AIDS activism drama 120 BPM, whose director Robin Campillo we interviewed, and blistering Icelandic drama The Swan. The big excitement, however, came from a special screening of Attack On Titan: The Roar Of Awakening, a chance to see season two of the much-loved drama on the big screen.

There are still six days of the festival to go, so lots more excitement to look forward to. We’ll keep bringing you all the latest right here at Eye For Film.

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