Since its launch in 2005, the Glasgow Film Festival has grown to become one of the cultural highlights of Scotland’s winter calendar, attracting film-makers, fans and big-name actors and directors from around the world. This year, as the event turns 15 – a difficult age for anyone – GFF19 will feature fresh new cinema from Belgium, revisit Hollywood classics from the last year of the Sixties and celebrate the anniversaries of two much-loved big screen blockbusters: The Matrix and Alien.
Add to that the weekend ‘Frightfest’ strand, featuring 11 horror/fantasy films; filmmaker guest appearances, interactive industry workshops and discussion panels, family films, and the gala opening and closing events, and you have a movie mix with something for all ages, tastes and interests. Other strands in the programme focus on film music, LGBT cinema, and the chance for filmmakers to pitch to Channel 4, which has recently chosen Glasgow as the site for one of its creative hubs.
Based at the Glasgow Film Theatre, an Art Deco cinema which has been entertaining Glasgow audiences since 1939, the festival reaches out into the community, with screenings and events taking place across the city.
Fans of The Matrix can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the cult classic with a special screening, immersive installations and an after-party, in the arched vaults beneath Glasgow’s Central Station, while Alien fans can enjoy (if that’s the right word) an encounter with the Xenomorph itself during a special, 40th anniversary screening of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi shocker at Parkhouse Business Park.
Speaking ahead of the screening, Hill said:
“I am so honoured to have Mid90s screen as the opening night film at Glasgow Film Festival. There is such an incredibly rich and cool art, music, design and film community in Glasgow, which has always embraced and championed artists."
Big name guests attending the festival this year include Michael Palin, screenwriter David Hare; director Sacha Polack; record-breaking British yachtswomen Tracy Edwards MBE; and author and campaigner Moazzam Begg.
The festival opens with the UK premiere of Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s, a coming-of-age comedy-drama that follows a 13-year-old boy who begins to hang out with an older group of skateboarders while living in 1990s Los Angeles. The soundtrack features an original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross alongside original ‘90s hip-hop.
Homegrown highlights include the premiere of Final Ascent, director’s Robbie Fraser’s documentary about legendary Scottish mountaineer Hamish MacInness, and his long fight back to reality after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
The festival will close with the UK premiere of another Scottish film, Brian ‘Black Mirror’ Welsh’s Glasgow-shot Beats, the film adaptation of Scottish playwright Kieran Hurley’s hit stage show about ‘90s rave culture.