Short but sweet

We report on the opening of this year's Glasgow Short Film Festival

by Andrew Robertson

Introducing the Glasgow Short Film Festival
Introducing the Glasgow Short Film Festival Photo: Andrew Robertson

Glasgow's Short Film Festival opened its eleventh outing with a well-attended screening at the city's historic Film Theatre. The programme featured a wide variety of films drawn from the 2018 schedule, and those in the audience who particularly enjoyed the works will have the opportunity to catch them "peppered across" the rest of the weekend's events.

Festival Director Matt Lloyd welcomed everyone to Glasgow's second film festival in the space of a fortnight, and expressed a hope that filmgoers wouldn't have to battle any Beasts from the East or Pests from the West. Talking about the global reach of this year's festival, with attendees from Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, New York and Austria, Matt talked about struggles not with the weather but with the UK Border Agency - visa woes from what were explicitly characterised as "racist policies" weren't the only issues - at least one of the International Jury went to a gate for a flight to Madrid rather than to Glasgow and so became somewhat delayed.

The issues with visas are in some ways indicative of the focus of this year's programme - the screenings scheduled for the festival include Kevin Jerome Everson's eight hour epic Park Lanes, which at GFF18 will be screening with a vegan lunch. His work covers various kinds of disenfranchisement, and his short film Stone screened at the opening. Matt described it as the kind of film that makes you want to peer over other people's shoulders, and it's a tightly shot and captivating portrait of, as Matt put it, "a man making $99 in seven minutes". Everson's prolific output (some 130 films) was compared to that of Falconer Houston, who'd won an event in GFT when it was still the Cosmo - Cry Of The Peewee won Best Film at the 1969 amateur film festival.

When Eye for Film caught up with Matt at the after-party in GFT's upstairs bar we asked about the inclusion of Park Lanes - he explained that he'd written a guest column for the Sunday Herald explaining the choice, but it had been dropped for extended coverage of the nerve agent incident. International politics aside (and they feature heavily in this year's GSFF programme) short film and experimental film are close cousins, and while it's obviously not a short there's definitely a space in cinema for logistical extremes. While films like Karl Erik Brandbo's Untitled (2011) sit at under a minute and Matt's argument went unpublished, we're still on board at Eye for Film. I'll argue that short film is the best film, and that might well be commutative.

Matt explained that the programme selections was made because they had "run out of ideas for for the opening". The films shown did a good job of representing the depth and variety of the GSFF18 programme, and worked well with this year's pre-screening piece - a choral number shot outside Glasgow's Barrowlands, running wryly through many of the features of short film - in particular their ability to experiment more freely and freqently.

Award sponsors Blazing Griffin and event sponsors WK insurance were also thanked, Blazing Griffin were credited with a youth and dynamism that made them easy to work with and Matt advised in the course of a speech he self-effacingly described as "one of his worst" that if you're producing a film in Scotland and aren't insured with WK you "don't know what you're doing".

Matt advised that he'd usually save the treat of thanks for the closing, but special mention was made of various sponsors. Auchentoshan provided 'Auchy & Ale' cocktails, whisky, beer, lemon, over ice - practically medicinal, especially if, like your correspondent, you're losing your voice. The ale component provided by Merchant City Brewing. Mention was made of the number of beer sponsors that GSFF has had, and how "really, really delighted" the festival was to have a sponsor who was not only very local but (so far) much better behaved than some others have been. With a custom label for their "Festivale" there was a joke that this now made GSFF a proper festival. We certainly think so - keep up with our coverage over the next few days here.

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