Following on from success at Glasgow Film Festival, the Glasgow Film Theatre has incorporated the popular Sound & Vision strand into its year-round programming, with major events and screenings taking place throughout April and May. It aims to present the best of sonic cinema, documentaries and features from around the world, along with live performances that showcase the most exciting blend of music and moviegoing. The programme includes events such as a silent documentary (Drifters by John Grierson), accompanied by a newly commissioned live score from acclaimed band Field Music, and a one-day festival, Live at Glasgow by Stag and Dagger, which co-hosts a series of screenings. We caught up with Programme Coordinator Sean Greenhorn to find out more.
This looks like a great programme. How did it all come about? What’s the thinking behind it all?
Music and film programming is something we have been building a reputation for as part of Glasgow Film Festival, and so it only made sense to extend that into our year-round programming. The opportunity to organise a couple of live events came up, so we decided to push the envelope and do them in-house here at GFT.
What’s the highlight of this new programme? What are you particularly excited about?
Well, so much of it is exciting! It is great to be a part of Live at Glasgow this weekend; working with PCL we tried to pick films that fit thematically with the rest of that festival programme. I am also incredibly excited about the live events – Saint Etienne Live: How We Used to Live and Field Music Live: Drifters. We are always looking for ways we can try new things here and give our audiences the best cinema experience, and these events definitely put the emphasis on the ‘experience’!
In terms of Drifters, this isn’t the first time a band has scored a silent movie. Do you think it’s a growing trend? Is film becoming an important medium for musicians to make their mark?
I can’t really say for sure as I am not a professional musician; however, most of the artists who I have worked with over the years are definitely keen to try something new. I think the visual element of film gives them something to work with, which is something they really enjoy, and it certainly gives the audience something different. Although it really isn’t anything new – live scores have been around since the dawn of cinema!
How does this programme respond to the changing ways people are experiencing music in a world of free live streaming?
Well, that isn’t really something we are consciously doing, but I guess just adding more of an event and a context to the music is something. Be it a rare behind-the-scenes documentary or a live score, it demands audience attention in the way that the passive nature of streaming doesn’t.
In the same way that audiences are valuing older music formats like vinyl more, do you think live scores could be a film equivalent with a throwback to the old days of the cinema organist?
Yeah, I think the tangibility of the event, the ‘I was there’ feeling, has a definite parallel with the ‘I am holding a piece of history in my hands’ experience one has with vinyl.
How can this approach attract new audiences for filmmakers and musicians?
Well, there is the crossover audience – a band’s score can often supply an entrance point to a film that might not otherwise get that audience.
I’ve asked a lot about music so far – how do you think this programming idea benefits film as an art form?
Apart from bringing in a new audience, it also just expands the possibilities of film, making the interaction between video and audio (sound and vision!) more interesting. The live events also give the screen media a bit more all-enveloping liveness, whereas the exploration of music can live on when we’re walking down the street listening to it.
What plans do you have for Sound & Vision for the future?
I can’t say exactly, but we’re already working away on a couple of projects for GFF16 that I am quite excited about. Beyond that, there have been some amazing films screened around the world that I cannot wait to bring to Glasgow.