The secret ingredient

GFF Diary days 3&4: Chiara Malta, Francis Annan, Simon Pegg and ladies who laugh

by Jennie Kermode

Our Ladies stars Marli Sui, Tallulah Grieve, Eve Austin, Sally Messham and Abigail Lawrie on the red carpet
Our Ladies stars Marli Sui, Tallulah Grieve, Eve Austin, Sally Messham and Abigail Lawrie on the red carpet Photo: Eoin Carey

Most film festivals take a couple of days to get started properly as people travel in from around the world, but by Friday morning the Glasgow Film Festival was in full swing. Despite distinctly less cooperative weather than the previous day, there was a good sized crowd at the GFT for the morning screening of Planet Of The Apes – the Charlton Heston original, of course – with fans discussing how much they loved it and how great it was to get the chance to see it on the big screen.

Roy's World director and producer Rob Christopher and Michael Glover
Roy's World director and producer Rob Christopher and Michael Glover Photo: Kat Gollock

After all the excited talk about The True History Of The Kelly Gang the previous night, many fans who had missed it took the opportunity to see it at the lunchtime catch-up screening, whilst others caught up with Polish drama Supernova, Norwegian bestseller adaptation Out Stealing Horses or the distinctly unusual Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway, which left some viewers perplexed and others looking as if they’d just fallen in love.

Some screenings were beginning to sell out, including Lithuanian thriller Isaac, which was showing in the early evening. It focuses on the story of a film director, like Simple Women, screening in the same slot, whose director Chiara Malta attended to discuss her work. Jack London adaptation Martin Eden and music documentary The Changin’ Times Of Ike White also proved popular, whilst literary documentary Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago delighted a lot of viewers who hadn’t known what to expect of it.

"I've had a blast at GFF," Roy's World director Rob Christopher told me later. "It's a hugely diverse and ambitious festival, and to a person the staff and volunteers have all been friendly and helpful. And the venue where we screened (the CCA) had excellent projection quality. It's been really cool having my documentary about growing up in 1950s Chicago make its debut halfway across the world in Glasgow, because I think it's caused folks to pay attention to it a bit more closely. Sometimes you have to sort of be a fish out of water to get noticed. The audiences at both screenings really seemed to 'get' the film, which just goes to prove that the language of cinema is universal. I sure hope I can bring my next film to Glasgow too!"

The biggest audience hits of the night were delightfully silly yet paranoid French thriller The Translators and Scotland’s own Our Ladies, which follows a group of Catholic schoolgirls gong to Edinburgh determined to break every rule in the book, and whose ebullient cast were a hit with fans both on the red carpet and when discussing the film after its screening – the sort of comedy ensemble that doesn’t stop entertaining just because the credits have rolled.

For those seeking something still more irreverent, a chance to see the gore cut of legendary girl-meets-dinosaur romcom Tammy And The T-Rex proved too good to miss. There was also a special screening of Total Recall in the Arches, which had been specially decked out to turn them into Neo-Glasgow, a vision of our cyberpunk future. Enthusiastic support from the audience gave Arnie’s adventures on Mars even more atmosphere than usual.

Francis Annan
Francis Annan Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

The following morning offered attendees the chance to break their fast with wasabi peas and some suspicious-looking green smoothies at a screening of Soylent Green. If you know the film, as I’m sure most of you do, then you might think that the ending would put people off snacking, but in fact there were tasty things on offer all day and the evening screening of bakery-based romcom Love Sarah got everybody craving cake.

The afternoon screenings provided an opportunity to catch up with Icelandic charmer Dive: Rituals In Water and literary documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, whilst I took the opportunity to chat to director Francis Annan ahead of the evening’s screening of his nerve-racking thriller Escape From Pretoria, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and tells the true story of three political prisoners trying to break out of a South African jail during the Apartheid era. Francis was on the red carpet later to talk to fans before going in to see his film alongside a traditional (non-invited) audience for the first time.

Also on the red carpet that night were Simon Pegg and Katharine O’Brien, there to support their film Lost Transmissions, which explores the subject of mental illness. Simon said that whilst he loved the script, he took on the film partly because Katharine was directing and he loved working with her. He spoke out about the limited number of opportunities for female directors and stressed that this needs to change.

We spent the evening with Spanish/Chilean co-production Blanco En Blanco, which sees a photographer getting a little too close to his subject, and later it was time to head back to Neo-Glasgow for post-apocalyptic fun with the unique piece of cinema that it Tank Girl. Meanwhile, those with a hankering for old-style horror films as brutal to the medium of cinema as to their unfortunate teen stars had the chance to check out Spookies at the CCA cinema, and music lovers packed into the CCA theatre to see documentary I Want My MTV before heading to the Blue Arrow for a specially themed afterparty that went on late into the night.

There’s a lot more festival to come, so watch this space or drop us a line to let us know which films or events you loved the most.

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