GLASGOW Film Festival will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with its largest ever programme including big-name premieres, cross-overs with the city’s music and art scenes, and one-off screenings in a host of unique locations.
Hotly-anticipated new films with Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Toni Colette, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Caine, Emily Watson and Tom Hardy have been confirmed for the 10-day event, which is expected to attract more than 40,000 film fans for the first time.
More venues than ever before are being deployed across the city, including Kelvingrove art gallery, the city’s Central Station, a former glue factory set to be transformed into a giant amusement arcade, and the Glasgow Film Theatre, which will be staging a spectacular Frankenstein-themed fancy dress bash at Kelvingrove to mark its own 40th birthday.
Organisers said the event, believed to be the UK’s third biggest film festival with more than 350 events, was now established as “the home of pop-up cinema” and insisted it would remain true to its roots as an “access-all-areas” event where paying punters are treated as VIPs. Average ticket prices are only £8.50, with a special “festival for a fiver” strand and a host of free events.
Other special events will be held at the new Glasgow School of Art complex near the GFT, the Old Fruitmarket, the city’s old fishmarket at the Briggait, the city’s Chinatown district, and its most famous park, Glasgow Green.
The festival will open with Wes Anderson’s star-studded comedy drama The Grand Budapest Hotel and close with Under the Skin, shot in Glasgow and the Highlands, in which Scarlett Johansson plays an alien femme fatale.
Glasgow director David Mackenzie’s new prison drama film Starred Up, which wowed critics at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, will be shown along with a new biopic of Mary Queen of Scots and a new film created by visual artist Rachel Maclean for the event.
Other significant coups for the event include screening of the latest Nick Hornby film adaptation A Long Way Down, starring Pierce Brosnan and Toni Colette; The Book Thief, the much-anticipated Holocaust film starring Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush; and Half of a Yellow Sun, the latest movie starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, who has been nominated for an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave.
Documentaries being unveiled in Glasgow include Oscar-nominated 20 Feet From Stardom, about the music industry’s forgotten backing singers; The Punk Singer, about American feminist and Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna; and a new profile of the groundbreaking Scottish filmmaker John Grierson.
Special guests lined up include veteran Scottish actor John Sessions, discussing his appearances in films like The Iron Lady, The Merchant of Venice and Gangs of New York and French fashion designer anges b, who will be unveiling her first ever feature film - My Name is Hmmm... - in which Glasgow artist Douglas Gordon stars.
Dutch director George Sluizer - best-known for the cult film The Vanishing - will be discussing his recently-completed film Dark Blood, the last to feature tragic actor River Phoenix, which he shot shortly before his death in 1993, while English comedian-turned-filmmaker Richard Ayoade will be unveiling his new feature, The Double.
Four decades of the Glasgow Film Theatre, which instigated the festival a decade ago, will see the transformation of Kelvingrove into a 300-capacity “Monster Mash” event for a screening of the Gene Wilder comedy Young Frankenstein, which was released in 1974, complete with live organ recitals on the night.
Glasgow indie music darlings Admiral Fallow will be taking over the Old Fruitmarket to showcase brand new material and the work of filmmakers around the UK, which will be mixed with classic footage of their home city.
Pop-up events include a screening on Glasgow Green of The Steamie, the classic TV movie about a group of washerwomen in the city, on Glasgow Green and a showing of In The Mood For Love, the classic Hong Kong love story, which will be shown in the Chinatown Groceries store in Glasgow. Food-themed screenings of When Harry Met Sally, Withnail & I, Goodfellas and Ratatouille will be held at the Briggait, which will house its own street-food cafe for the festival.
Horror fans will be able to sign up for a spine-tingling potholing expedition with a difference down into a sealed off part of Central Station for a mystery movie while planned special effects will add spice to a screening of John Carpenter’s original version of The Fog on The Tall Ship, which is berthed on the Clyde.
‘Hoping for bigger crowds’
Just 6000 people attended the inaugural GFF in 2005 and ticket sales reached almost 40,000 last year. A further boost in attendances is expected in the 10th festival, which runs from 20 February to 2 March, thanks to the expanded programme, the 40th anniversary of the GFT and special screenings of film from Hollywood’s “golden year” of 1939 when the forerunner of the art house cinema, the Cosmo, opened off Sauchiehall Street.
Allison Gardner, co-director of the festival, said: “We’ve grown gradually every year, but we’re always anxious not to grow too big and keep it manageable for everybody.
“We want more people to come, but we’re obviously constrained in terms of the number of cinema screens we have available and the resources we have.
“We are hoping to attract more people than last year, but it’s not our priority. It’s about the enjoyment of the experience and the quality of the film that has to come first. I’d also like each person who comes to the festival to see more.”
Allan Hunter, the other co-director, said: “In the decade since we began, the festival’s grown almost beyond recognition. One thing remains essential, though – it is and will always be an access-all-areas event, where you can meet the filmmakers, ask awkward questions, and make friends with the person sitting next to you. Everyone is a VIP here and in our 10th year we’re pulling out all the stops, trying to create the best possible experiences.”
Janet Archer, chief executive at Creative Scotland, said: “Just when you might think Glasgow Film Festival couldn’t possibly get any better, they present us with this fantastic array of premieres, guests and special events.
“It’s not only an exciting time for film in Scotland, but also for the festival as it celebrates its 10th anniversary, and the 75th birthday of the cinema.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “What is impressive is that the festival continues to grow, while retaining the welcoming atmosphere and engaging programme strands which made the first edition in 2005 so successful.”
• Tickets for the 10th Glasgow Film Festival go on sale on Friday.