It’s that time of year again! Just one week from today, Scotland’s most populous city will play host to one of the UK’s biggest cinematic galas as the Glasgow Film Festival comes to town. Awash with Hollywood stars, intriguing documentaries and genre-bending offerings, as well as more than a fair few Q and As and special events, the 15th annual festival is set to be the most ambitious to date.
With appetites suitably whetted in anticipation, we asked our writers to identify the titles they were most looking forward at next week’s bonanza. Here are the results:
The Vanishing is inspired by the Flannan Isles mystery, which saw three lighthouse keepers completely disappear without trace in 1900. There is just something about Scottish isolated settings, particularly remote and sea-battered lighthouses, that are potentially unruly premises for a thriller story and exploration of human nature. For me, this film’s attraction lies in discovering the director’s perspective on the unsolved history, the eerie atmosphere and the inevitable drama among the men.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is a master in exposing the complex bonds between the past and present lives of ordinary people. His latest work, Everybody Knows, is a drama set in rural Spain during a wedding celebration, when the niece of the bride disappears. I expect the tension and thrill of a whodunnit and the sanguine revelation of family secrets.
This event was due to take place in 2018 but was cancelled due to the snow. The screening features work by Orkney poet and filmmaker Margaret Tait alongside short films from New Zealand artist Joanna Margaret Paul. The event is curated by filmmaker Peter Todd and artist Kate Davis and will also feature poetry readings and a discussion of Tait’s and Paul’s work.
Adrian Crowley, a Dublin based singer-songwriter, is the subject of the experimental documentary The Science of Ghosts. The film looks to blend truth and fiction and get under the skin of what it means to be an artist. The subject of personal creativity could potentially make the film seem pretentious and self-indulgent, so it will be interesting to see how this is tackled onscreen.
Under the Silver Lake is directed by David Robert Mitchell, who brought us unexpected horror hit It Follows in 2014. Hitchcock and Lynch are being cited as influences on Silver Lake, so it seems like the unnerving, twisted atmosphere of It Follows will be at play here too. Versatile star Andrew Garfield also plays the leading role, so that’s another draw for this Hollywood-set mystery.
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman features as popstar Celeste in fictional biopic Vox Lux. The film’s trailer and publicity images suggest references to Lady Gaga, the rise of social media stars, and the madness of America’s gun violence. Portman’s on-screen power alone is enough to make this film an exciting addition to the GFF programme.
David Dastmalchian and Scottish actress Karen Gillan head up this dark and brooding story of a young American couple fallen on hard times. After losing their means of income, and with a small child in tow, things get desperate, leading to them hitting the road and breaking the law. This should be a particularly raw and emotional ride as writer Dastmalchian apparently drew on aspects of his own experiences with homelessness, drug addiction, poverty and the temptations of the wrong side of the tracks.
A fitting parable for our times, Border takes the controversially topical subject of immigrants and border crossings and throws in elements of the fantastical, while exploring the concept of “otherness”. Eva Melander portrays an unusual looking border guard, with curiously heightened senses, who meets another similar-looking person. Based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of Let the Right One In, Border looks to be a similarly fascinating treatise on viewing aspects of humanity through the lens of mythology with a Scandinavian twist.