In strange days

GFF Diary days 11&12: Rose Glass, Joe Begos, Caitlin Moran and Eighties disco action

by Jennie Kermode

Caitlin Moran and Coky Giedroyc on the red carpet for How To Build A Girl
Caitlin Moran and Coky Giedroyc on the red carpet for How To Build A Girl Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

The penultimate day of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival was the only one apart from the opening day without a free morning science fiction film, which resulted in some fans sulking that it just didn’t feel right without one of festival co-director Allan Hunter’s introductions. It also saw Frightfest get off to a rocky start, as there was a problem getting scheduled serial killer thriller Anderson Falls to play. Attempts to stream it off Vimeo straight onto the big screen were getting nowhere so the decision was eventually made to show A Night Of Horror: Nightmare Radio, which had been scheduled to be the mini-fest’s closing film, instead, but the loosely structured anthology left fans who had been spoiled by the previous night’s anthology, The Mortuary Collection, unimpressed.

White Riot producer Ed Gibbs in Glasgow
White Riot producer Ed Gibbs in Glasgow Photo: Kat Gollock

They were soon cheered up by the second film, Korean zom-rom-com and critique of modern capitalism Zombie For Sale, which follows a family’s attempt to get rich quick upon discovering that the bite of the zombie they’ve captured has rejuvenating powers. This was followed in its turn by the dark religious-themed drama Saint Maud, introduced by director Rose Glass. Fans were really impressed by the performance of its star, Morfydd Clark, and the general feeling was that we’re going to see a lot more of both these women.

The early part of the day also presented festival attendees with another chance to see Marie Curie story Radioactive, powerful Rock Against Racism documentary White Riot, Chinese fable Lhamo And Skalbe and New York immigrant story The Garden Left Behind. There’s been a lot of work focused on cults this festival and the other Lamb provided an additional take on that subject, plus there was a chance to catch family drama The Sleepwalkers and gorgeously shot Chinese drama Over The Sea, which turns from comedy to heartbreak as we follow the world’s most rascally boy on a journey into understanding and beginning to grow up.

For those not yet ready to grow up, Frightfest continued with the unforgettable Butt Boy, the story of, well, a man who puts things up his butt (or bum, as we politely refer to it on this side of the pond). The twist is that some of those things are really not supposed to go up there, and they don’t come out again. Fans laughed delightedly throughout but were afterwards divided as to whether they had see one of the best or worst films ever made. They then went on to VFW, which began with the best bribe tired viewers could ask for – free shots of whisky provided by director Joe Begos, whose ebullient introduction got everyone in the mood for this joyously gory, anarchic crowd pleaser with its distinct reminders of the work of John Carpenter.

Anderson Falls was finally shown a little after 11pm, but by then many local fans had left to catch night buses and those who remained laughed in places where they weren’t really intended to. Still, they were entertained and the feeling was that Frightfest had put together a very strong line-up overall, with most of those we spoke to saying that they intend to be back for more next year.

Talking Rocks
Talking Rocks Photo: Max Crawford

Others sticking around late that night went to a special screening of John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club just along the road in Strathclyde Student Union and enjoyed a Eighties style dance afterwards – as long as they could avoid getting caught by the principal. Some still managed to scrape themselves out of bed in the morning to join the queue for the festival’s final free science fiction film, the underrated turn-of-the-millennium thriller Strange Days. Because is was International Women’s Day the day included only films made by female directors or films with women in prominent roles, and with Kathryn Bigelow and Angela Bassett, Strange Days had both.

Most of what was showing had already been screened at the festival but there was also a chance to see Sarah Gavron’s Rocks, the story of a schoolgirl who tries to keep her single mother walking out a secret from the authorities, introduced by Eye for Film’s Amber Wilkinson, albeit slightly late because train delays held up the guests from the film.

The festival closed with a gala presentation of teen adventure How To Build A Girl, adapted from her own novel by Caitlin Moran, who joined director Coky Giedroyc on the red carpet. the closing event also saw the coveted audience award given to Arracht. “We are utterly delighted,” said surprised producer Cúán MacConghail. “It’s been a very emotional journey making this film and to get this recognition from such a brilliant festival has really made me proud not only for the film but of all the cast and crew who came on this journey with us, but especially Dónal Ó Healaí whose commitment to Arracht has been immense.”

“Glasgow Film Festival 2020 has been another brilliant year,” said festival co-director Allison Gardner as it was announced that over 43,000 tickets to festival screenings and events had been sold. Finally, it was revealed that the next edition will run from 24 February to 7 March 2021. We hope to have more coverage for you then.

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