Colourful programming: the Glasgow Film Festival

The curtain rises on the Glasgow Film Festival, with a bigger-than-ever offering of premieres, events and over 360 screenings across the city.

14 February 2013

By Sam Wigley

Populaire (2012)

Mad Men-era retro chic provides an appetite-whetting Gallic amuse-bouche to the Glasgow Film Festival, with the opening night UK premiere of Populaire, a first feature by acclaimed music video director Regis Roinsard. It’s a suitably romantic Valentine’s Day curtain-raiser to a much-expanded festival, with over 360 screenings – including six world premieres and 57 UK premieres – taking place in 27 venues across the city.

Among the festival’s high-profile offerings are first UK outings for the big-business thriller Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere; Neil Jordan’s Byzantium, backed by the BFI Film Fund and starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as mother and daughter vampires descending on a British coastal resort town; and two new Nicole Kidman starrers – Stoker, the first English-language film by cult Korean director Park Chan-wook, and The Paperboy, a heady dose of Southern Gothic directed by Lee Daniels (Precious, 2009).

Byzantium (2012)

The Place beyond the Pines sees director Derek Cianfrance reuniting with his Blue Valentine (2010) star Ryan Gosling, while The Look of Love reteams Michael Winterbottom with his regular star Steve Coogan, playing seedy real-life ‘King of Soho’ Paul Raymond. Mama is a creepy Spanish-Canadian horror film starring Jessica Chastain and boasting Guillermo Del Toro as executive producer.

Part-filmed in Glasgow, Cloud Atlas will also receive its first UK screening. This ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 novel is the result of an intriguing directorial collaboration between Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix, 1999) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, 1998; Heaven, 2002).

But the festival also presents an opportunity to catch up with less-heralded cinematic offerings from all around the globe. With Brazil poised to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the country’s national cinema gets a special spotlight this year. The Buena Onda strand provides a survey of its best new films, with Kleber Mendoça Filho’s visionary and surreal neighbourhood drama Neighbouring Sounds a particular highlight.

Neighbouring Sounds (2012)

New films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Mekong Hotel) and Jem Cohen (Museum Hours) prop up the Crossing the Line section, a tasting menu of some of world cinema’s more outré offerings. Kapow! offers geekier pleasures, with its triple bill of Marvel movies and John Wagner – creator of comic books Judge Dredd and 30 Days of Night – appearing in conversation.

Meanwhile, James Cagney, famed for his wisecracking gangsters during Hollywood’s Golden Age, gets a section all to himself, with outings for iconic underworld titles like The Public Enemy (1931), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and White Heat (1949). Another archive treat is a screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), accompanied by a live musical score, in Glasgow Cathedral. 

“Glasgow Film Festival has grown into a massive celebration of every aspect of the moving image,” says co-director Allan Hunter. “We all spend part of our lives watching films, playing games or catching up with television but there is still nothing to match sharing the experience with fellow enthusiasts, meeting the filmmakers and finding fresh inspiration. We are extremely proud of an ambitious 2013 programme that promises unforgettable moments in venues all across the city.”

The festival draws to a close on 24 February with another UK first: a modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, in velvety black and white, directed – in an inspired left-turn from the super-heroics of Avengers Assemble (2012) – by Josh Whedon.

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