Alistair Harkness: Glasgow Film Festival champions mavericks

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Since its inception, Glasgow Film Festival has prided itself on being an audience-friendly event, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t also been a pioneering festival.

In recent years, for instance, it has led the way in putting on inspired pop-up screenings in weird and wonderful venues (this year’s highlight looks set to be John Carpenter’s The Thing in the chilly environs of an indoor real-snow ski slope).

In many of their programming choices too, artistic directors Allison Gardner and Allan Hunter have (along with their team) have quietly championed mavericks both young and old.

Glasgow, for instance, was the first film festival in the UK to screen the debut movies of Girls creator Lena Dunham and La La Land director Damien Chazelle, so for those looking for new voices it’s probably worth keeping eye on the festival’s suitably named Pioneer strand, which this year features Hello, My Name is Doris, the second feature from Michael Showalter, co-creator of current hipster TV sensation Search Party.

There are plenty of new voices elsewhere in the programme too, with acclaimed British films, such as Lady Macbeth and Edinburgh-based director Hope Dickson Leach’s debut The Levelling playing alongside radical-sounding films in the Sound & Vision and Window on the World strands.

Playing in the latter, Tim Sutton’s Dark Night – an Elephant-style meditation on a mass shooting in a cinema – feels oddly symbolic of the need to disavow audiences of the notion that movies are about playing it safe.

That’s something that should be evident from the number of veteran mavericks still doing challenging work and to this end the festival is celebrating them as well, with new works from the likes of Paul Verhoeven, Olivier Assayas, Werner Herzog, Filipino auteur Lav Diaz, the increasingly prolific Terence Malick and two tributes to the artwork of cinema’s favourite outlier, David Lynch.