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GFF Diary days 9&10: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Marjane Satrapi, Flavio Alves and Frightfest

by Jennie Kermode

Film fans search the Clyde for clues to their Final Destination
Film fans search the Clyde for clues to their Final Destination Photo: Ingrid Mur

Between fears about the burgeoning Covid-19 pandemic (which today saw this year’s South By Southwest cancelled completely) and increasingly hostile attitudes towards refugees, Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 dystopian thriller Children Of Men seems more relevant today than ever, and many of those attending the morning screening of it on day nine of the Glasgow Film Festival felt that festival co-director Allan Hunter’s “Are we nearly there yet?” introduction on this occasion deserved a solid “Yes!” It might have set a grim mood but there was still a lot of excitement about the quality of the film, which some attendees were seeing on the big screen for the first time, and about Clive Owen’s performance in the leading role.

Radioactive director Marjane Satrapi in Glasgow
Radioactive director Marjane Satrapi in Glasgow Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

As previously, the early part of the day was devoted to catch-up screenings, with further chances to see the likes of gentle sporting romcom Olympic Dreams, Icelandic family drama Agnes Joy and Baljit Sangra’s powerful documentary about child abuse, Because We Are Girls. Anyone upset by the latter would have been delighted to see survivor Jeeti Pooni having a whale of a time at the festival, talking to fellow guests and fans with non-stop enthusiasm and more energy than the festival staff could keep up with.

Energy was everything in the afternoon as Kyrgyzstani drama Running To The Sky told the story of a boy trying to lift himself and his father out of poverty by competing in running races, whilst over at Glasgow Women’s Library there was a screening of Seeing The Unseen, an Icelandic documentary about autistic women which prompted some intense discussions. In the evening the Icelandic theme continued with music documentary Screaming Masterpiece, which was followed by a chance to see Glasgow Percussion Collective play a series of pieces by Björk.

There was a lot of excitement that evening about the chance to see the Oscar-winning Parasite in a specially re-graded black and white version, reflecting what director Bong Joon-ho had originally wanted to do with it, and viewers were very positive about the result. For those sticking with the festival programme, there was US indie drama Driveways, about a single mother cleaning out her recently deceased hoarder sister’s house, plus Song Without A Name, the haunting story of a Peruvian peasant woman ensnared by a baby-stealing scam, and Initials S.G., the oddball story of an Argentinean Serge Gainsbourg impersonator caught up in a series of unfortunate events. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead introduced their new time travel thriller Synchronic, which went down a treat with the audience, whilst a group of particularly daring festival fans received re GFF passports and werre sent out along the Clyde is search of clues to a secret location for a screening of Final Destination.

Friday morning began with a screening of District 9, with another informative introduction by Allan, who revealed just how much of it was improvised by Sharlto Copley on the day. It was also the first day of Frightfest, which opened with scam-exorcists-meet-real-demon romp The Cleansing Hour, a film that fans described as “daft but fun” and which went down a threat in a crowd setting. The horror mini-fest was packed as usual, with attendees having such a good time that some other festival-goers said they regretted not being horror fans because they’d love to join the party. A usual there were surprise short films fitted in between the thrillers there. We think this year’s Frightfest has a particularly strong selection, and most of its attendees also loved its second feature, In The Quarry, about a group of friends who fall apart due to toxic masculinity.

Denmark director Adrian Shergold in Glasgow
Denmark director Adrian Shergold in Glasgow Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

Of course, there are quite a few disturbing films at the festival outside Frightfest, and whilst “The Thing on a boat” shocker Sea Fever was showing there, others had a second chance to see Resin – as well as the gentler story about hermits that is And The Birds Rained Down. Later in the day cam the highly anticipated graphic novel adaptation about Marie Curie, Radioactive, plus Chinese romance Lhamo And Skalbe and the curious documentary Those That, At A Distance, Resemble Another, about the reproduction of an elephant’s tusk.

The evening saw a screening of The Garden Left Behind, about an immigrant trans woman in New York – we spoke to director Flavio Alves about it last year and he made the trip across the pond along with actress Ivana Black to introduce it to fans. Also on that evening was Denmark, the story of a Welshman who decides he’d be better off in prison in Scandinavia than staying at home, which was introduced by director Adrian Shergold, and White Riot, a documentary about Rock Against Racism, which was followed by an afterparty at The Blue Arrow run in partnership with Love Music, Hate Racism and featuring rock and punk hits from the time.

Back at Frightfest, the most popular film of the night was gentle romcom A Ghost Waits, about a janitor who tries to exorcise a ghost but accidentally falls in love with her. Director Adam Stovall attended to discuss the film. The final film of the night, The Mortuary Collection, an old fashioned anthology film featuring the legendary Clancy Brown (seen earlier at the festival in Surprise Film Promising Young Woman), which surprised a lot of fans in a good way. We spoke to director Ryan Spindell about it earlier and he was excited to be there on the night, with special toe tags to give out to some audience members.

Frightfest continues on day 11 and there’s much more still to come over the last two days, so don’t forget to return for the final part of this year’s festival diary.

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