Glasgow Film Festival to feature boxing champ Benny Lynch's rise and fall

One of Scotland's forgotten sporting heroes is set to get top billing at the Glasgow Film Festival.

Benny Lynch after a fight at Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow in 1937.
Benny Lynch after a fight at Shawfield Stadium in Glasgow in 1937.

The event will feature the world premiere of a documentary about boxer Benny Lynch, who emerged from the city’s tough Gorbals district to become flyweight champion of the world - only to die at the age of just 33 after a battle with alcoholism.

He took up the sport to escape the poverty and deprivation of his upbringing, turned professional at the age of 18 and lifted his world title in 1935 when he just was just 21, returning to a hero’s welcome at Central Station.

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Andrew Gallimore’s documentary, billed by the festival as “an affectionate salute to the people’s champion,” will combine archive footage, animated sequence and interviews with modern-day boxers.

Next month’s festival will feature nine world and international premieres, three European premieres, 65 UK premieres and 67 Scottish premieres.

The event will see the international premiere of Celtic Soul, a documentary following How To Train Your Dragon star Jay Burachel tracing his mother’s roots in Ireland and then travelling to Scotland to see his football heroes Celtic in the flesh for the first time.

Terence Davies, director of the recent film adaptation of Sunset Song, will be at the festival to unveil a new biopic of the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.

Edinburgh-based filmmaker Hope Dickson Leach will launch her feature-length debut, The Levelling, which focuses on the relationship forged between a father and daughter in the wake of a family tragedy.

Another new Scottish film, Bodkin Ras, will follow the story of a fugitive criminal who goes into hiding in the Morayshire town of Forres.

Playwright John Byrne will introduce a 20th anniversary screening of the big-screen adaptation of his best-known work The Slab Boys.

Also screening will be Robocop and Total Recall director Paul Verhoven’s latest thriller, Elle, a double winner at the this month’s Golden Globes, and Their Finest, a new World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy.

The festival will be hosting a special "dog friendly" screening of Rock Dog, Eddie Izzard's new film, about a Tibetan Mastiff who discovers rock music for the first time when a radio mysteriously falls from the sky.

Special events in the festival programme include a 35th anniversary of classic John Carpenter horror movie The Thing at the Snow Factor ski centre in Renfrewshire.

It has already been announced that Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant will be closing the festival with the world premiere of his latest film Mad To Be Normal, which will see him portray the controversial Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing.

The event will open with Irish coming-of-age movie Handsome Devil, which follows events after an awkward 16-year-old is sent to an all-boys boarding school.

Tickets for the event, which runs from 15-26 February, go on sale to Glasgow Film Festival members at noon on Thursday and then on general sale at 10am on Monday.