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GFF 2020: Our Picks

At the start of every year, Glasgow Film Festival brings a celebration of cinema in all of its forms to cinemas and venues across the city. This year's festival traverses the globe with an inclusive, in-depth programme exploring new voices in filmmaking, a retrospective that looks to an uncertain future, cult classics and masterpieces from every genre. The Film Hub Scotland team picked just a few personal highlights below, and you can browse the whole festival programme here: https://glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival

Sambrooke (Hub Manager)

Tarkovsky’s films are strange and powerful dreamscapes. I can’t wait to take up this rare opportunity to see one of his films on the big screen; to detach myself from the world as I know it and enter the mind of a true visionary.  

The buzz for this film has been building since it hit the festival circuit at the end of last year and the unique way it was written – in collaboration with the young people who star in the film – promises a naturalistic authentic story of young people and their East London home. 

Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Animation always holds a special place in my film-viewing life, particularly it’s ability to describe a world that is both familiar and fantastic at the same time. This film seems to be the very essence of that, elevating what could be grounded domestic story about a wee dug into a stunningly rich flight of imagination. 

Les Miserables
Thankfully not the Tom Hooper version. One of the films that propelled my love of cinema was Mathieu Kassovitz’s 1995 film La Haine and this debut by French filmmaker Ladj Ly promises to echo the energy, anger and tension of the former but offer its own unique take on life in the Parisian projects.

I’m fudging the last one as I genuinely can’t decide between them – there are four exciting new features by filmmakers from Scotland and I want to see them all! So my last shout goes to Run, Rialto, Our Ladies and Robbie Fraser’s Pictures from Afghanistan


Charlotte (Programme and Marketing Coordinator) 

Master Cheng
Being more familiar with the films of his brother Aki, I’m intrigued to see a film from Mika Kaurismäki and where better to start than at a post-Brexit GFF screening with a story of empathy and acceptance between cultures. Master Cheng looks like a charming combination of delicious cookery scenes, community spirit and beautiful Finnish scenery - a breath of fresh air!

I have seen Bacurau, and can’t wait for the reaction of GFF audiences. It’s a brilliant, bloody, bizarre Brazilian blow-out - a horribly plausible neo-Western set in the not-too-distant future that plays on ideas of gaming, gun violence, Othering as justification for horrific acts, and the modern proclivity for increasingly extreme experiences and online content. A small village seemingly wiped from the map becomes the location of an increasingly unsettling series of events, culminating in a stunningly violent climax of retribution against some very unwelcome intruders.

About Endlessness
Purportedly a sequel of sorts to A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting on Existence, About Endlessness heralds the return of Roy Andersson’s singularly bleak, blackly comic vignettes from the bureaucratic minutiae of life. The grimly muted palettes, peculiar situations and po-faced civilians that people his work document the human condition in all of its sublime, ridiculous, beautiful and banal glory. 

Balloon (Qiqiu)
I loved Pema Tseden’s beautiful, melancholy Tibetan fable Tharlo, so look forward to Balloon – the story of a young family battling to save their sheep farm amid knotted relationships and the ruinous consequences of China’s one-child policy. Tseden’s work uniquely portrays the conflicts and contradictions of modern Tibet amid strict censorship during production, and I’ll be seeking out the rest of his filmography after this screening! 

State Funeral
As a fan of slow cinema, Russian history and Sergei Loznitsa’s searching, deeply political films, I’m ready to attend two stately hours of Stalin’s funeral – 67 years after the event. Unseen footage offers a glimpse of the Soviet Regime from the inside, and a meditation on legacies of totalitarianism and cult fanaticism that echo throughout history.


Georgia (Knowledge and Network Coordinator)

The Juniper Tree 
Bjork plus a Brothers Grimm fairytale in a feminist retelling, set in a beautiful black and white Iceland sounds just about perfect to me.

Romantic Comedy + Live Score by Summer Camp
I’ve not been to a public film essay screening and, as someone who has a deep love of romantic comedies (good and bad), and with a live score by Summer Camp in the Oran Mor, this like an ideal introduction.

Visible Cinema: How to Deaf (Presented by London Short Film Festival)
I’m excited to see this collection of short films exploring the D/deaf experience and the ways unspoken language shapes and informs activities, relationships and the world we live in.

Women Make Film: a New Road Movie Through the Cinema: 4
All the films in Mark Cousin’s  opus ‘Women Make Film’ sound fantastic but this one caught my eye especially because of its reference to Carol Morley’s Dreams of a Life (which I loved).  This instalment of the documentary focuses on melodrama, memories, horror and science fiction. Bonus points for the photo of Tank Girl in the programme (which is also screening as part of the Neo Glasgow strand!)

You Will Die at 20 
This caught my eye because of the story: a young man living in Sudan is told and believes he will die when he turns 20 until a cinephile friend offers a different world view. A quick look at the trailer says this film is striking, bold and very visual. Definitely on my GFF 2020 list.


Adam (FAN Member Support and Development Coordinator)

Margaret Tait Award: Ashley
It’s always exciting to see work made in Scotland, and filmmakers that have won the Margaret Tait Award for moving image in Scotland have gone onto great things, including Charlotte Prodger winning the Turner Prize. Ashley is a rural horror film exploring trans identity, shot on the West Coast of Scotland. I am usually too scared to watch horror, but for this one I’m hooked.

Without knowing anything about this film, I was intrigued by the description of a dysfunctional family welcoming in a mute man who only walks backwards, hinting of treasure in a forest. This reminded me of Happy as Lazzaro which I loved, so hopefully I’ll have a similar reaction to Kontora too.

The Truth (La Vérité)
I can’t say I have been wowed by the trailer for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first film made outside Japan. Yet, since Shoplifters was one of my favourite films last year I am still certainly interested to see The Truth.

Cook F**K Kill
I always enjoy an ensemble cast film set in one small location, filled with simmering tension. Combine that with unexpected nude running through the forest and Groundhog Day-esque reliving of events and I’m sold for this claustrophobic and darkly absurd story

The 90s are everywhere with fashion mimicking the era and numerous films returning to the era, including Scottish release Our Ladies. Yet I know nothing about 1990s Algeria, and so look forward to Papicha. The film explores the experience of young women in Algiers escaping their oppressive campus to put on a fashion show amidst growing extremist ideology.


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