Blast off!

GFF Diary days 1&2: Alice Winocour, Imoge Poots, George MacKay and an emotional ride

by Jennie Kermode

Allison Gardner, Alice Winocour and Allan Hunter on the GFF red carpet
Allison Gardner, Alice Winocour and Allan Hunter on the GFF red carpet Photo: Eoin Carey

The 2020 Glasgow Film Festival opened on Wednesday night with a screening of Proxima, which was shot at the European Space Agency’s training camp and stars Eva Green as an astronaut coping with the stress of parting from her daughter in order to go on a lengthy mission. We recently spoke with director Alice Winocour about the film and she was present on the red carpet last night, talking to fans, before going on to discuss her film after it had shown. “I’m super happy to be here, especially for the opening. It’s a great honour,” she said, and went on to praise her star. “Eva was trained by real trainers from the European Space Agency and Russian trainers as well, so she had a hard time. She did a lot of work.”

The audience response to the film was highly positive, even from those who said they wouldn’t normally go to see a film with that kind of subject matter. Of course, there was also a lot of excitement about the festival opening itself, with fans showing off the piles of tickets they’ve bought (the most we saw was eight but we’re sure there are people out there planning to attend more films than that), whilst the invited audience were excited about the free drinks and the caramel wafers in their goodie bags.

George MacKay arrives to introduce The True History Of The Kelly Gang
George MacKay arrives to introduce The True History Of The Kelly Gang Photo: Eoin Carey

The following morning the sun was bright and the sky was blue, something that only happens in Glasgow in February when the festival audience is getting ready to go and sit indoors in the dark. There was a great turnout for Val Guest’s classic science fiction thriller The Day The Earth Caught Fire, with many attendees saying that they think it’s very relevant in light of the climate change issues we’re facing today. it’s one of a series of classic science fiction films, one of which will be shown to kick off each day’s events.

Several attendees went straight from that screening to watch literary documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, which we recently discussed with its director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, whilst others took the plunge into this year’s special strand about Iceland with Dive: Rituals In Water, about an Icelandic man’s success in teaching tiny babies how to swim. It really hit the spot with the audience and was probably the day’s most emotive hit apart from invisible Life, which had several attendees in tears.

Star Imogen Poots and director Lorcan Finnegan were on the red carpet in the evening before their film Vivarium, which will soon be showing in cinemas across the UK, and other highlights on the early evening session included dramatic Polish tragedy Supernova and lyrical Norwegian book adaptation Out Stealing Horses. There’s always that one film at the festival that’s just odd, however, and later that night there were two, with the brutal yet darkly humorous Cook F**k Kill and the trippy Jesus Shows You The Way to The Highway entertaining and confounding audiences in equal measure.

Also among the late screenings was Rialto, with director Peter Mackie Burns and writer Mark O’Halloran present for a post-screening discussion, whilst The True History Of The Kelly Gang saw young star George MacKay walking the red carpet. Fresh from the Oscar attention which surrounded 1917, George, who confessed himself rather overwhelmed by his sudden fame and a life full of celebrity encounters, spoke about how he related to his character and how much the opportunity to take on a role like this had meant to him.

With numerous other guests due to attend over the next few days and a lot of great films in the line-up, this looks set to be a thrilling festival. Watch this space to find out how it goes.

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