All abuzz

GFF Diary days 3&4: Carlos Acosta, David Dastmalchian, busy bees and a trip inside The Matrix

by Jennie Kermode

Entering the Matrix at the Glasgow Film Festival
Entering the Matrix at the Glasgow Film Festival Photo: Ingrid Mur

Friday morning at the Glasgow Film Festival began with a free screening of John Wayne classic True Grit, which probably saw the biggest age gap of any film at the festival – about 80 years, buy our estimation – and still managed to entertain everyone. Most people were in a good mood to begin with because it was unseasonably warm and sunny outside – only around 14ºC but with no wind chill, so what is known as ‘taps aff’ weather in Glasgow.

Telling it to the bees
Telling it to the bees Photo: Eoin Carey

One of the most popular and talked-about films of the day was Ali Abbasi’s Border, a mixture of folklore and neo-noir with a truly unusual protagonist. It was followed at Cineworld by Dragged Across Concrete, the brutal story of two suspended police officers who go looking for trouble in the criminal underworld. Also screening in the evening were sad but warm-hearted romance Tell It To The Bees, which viewers fell in love with and which saw the whole cast in attendance; Adrian Panek’s blend of horror and Holocaust drama, Werewolf; and documentary The Feeling Of Being Watched, the sinister story of FBI surveillance of a Muslim community in the suburbs of Chicago.

For those in the mood for something more energetic, there was a sing-along screening of Team America – not that audiences didn’t sing along when it was originally in cinemas. There was also the first of two special screenings – the second being the following night – celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Matrix. Held in the shadowy environment of the Arches, these were reportedly infiltrated by agents, but it was difficult to distinguish them in their black clothes and sunglasses because a sizeable proportion of the audience was dressed the same way. Video art installations completed the look and there was a chance to try out some slow motion high kicks, but a few less cautious audience members were led away for interrogation before the night was over.

Carlos Acosta at the UK première of Yuli
Carlos Acosta at the UK première of Yuli Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

Saturday began with a treat for younger festival fans, The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, and lots of catch-up screenings for adults who had missed festival premières. The evening saw screenings of Angel, in which a Belgian cyclist and Senegalese sex worker fall in love, and dysfunctional family drama Ray & Liz. There was a gala première for All Creatures Here Below, which blends elements of both those themes and which was attended by star David Dastmalchian, who declared that he had fallen in love with Glasgow despite being nervous about the screening. He needn’t have worried - for all its difficult subject matter, the film found a receptive audience.

Bringing day four of the festival to a close were singular martial arts comedy actioner The Man Who Feels No Pain, spots car business drama Driven and Chinese drama Cities Of Last Things, which explores the life of a man after his mysterious suicide. Legendary dancer Carlos Acosta, who recently spoke to us about his life story as told in Yuli, was on the red carpet for its UK première along with director Icíar Bollaín and writer Paul Laverty – and there’s lots more to look forward to as the festival continues.

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