THIS year’s Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) promises “something for everyone” after the full programme was announced for its nineteenth edition.

The festival will play host to over 250 screenings including 22 world premieres and 70 UK premieres.

It’s feeling like a particularly positive year too given this will be the first festival in two years which won’t have to contend with any major Covid-19 disruptions.

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It also marks the end of  Allan Hunter's time as co-director as he steps down after nineteen years.

What’s on this year?

Allison Gardner, co-director of GFF, believes the programme represents a “fabulous testament to the power of cinema”.

This year will see a focus on Spanish films including On The Fringe starring Penélope Cruz.

Following success at the Cannes Film Festival, Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s The Beasts is among the films making its UK premiere.

Loosely based on a true story, the film focuses on a middle-aged French couple who move to a local village where tensions with locals inflame to the point of violence.

The programme is keen to champion Scottish film as well with the Scottish premiere of Mark Cousins’ documentary My Name is Alfred Hitchcock which will be followed by a screening of the 1963 classic The Birds.

The National: The festival will show a documentary made by a Scot about Alfred HitchcockThe festival will show a documentary made by a Scot about Alfred Hitchcock (Image: My Name is Alfred Hitchcock)

Other films to feature will include Glasgow director Andrew Cumming’s debut The Origin, an innovative horror set in the stone age and shot during the pandemic in the Highlands.

There will also be a screening of Under The Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, a decade on from its original release.

Girl, the story of a mother and daughter trying to rebuild their life in Glasgow and directed by Adura Onashile, will open the festival with its UK premiere.

More information can be found on the festival's website HERE

The power of cinema

Speaking to The National, Hunter explained how he feels now is a “good moment” to step away from his role as he praised the power cinema can still have on people.

“You don’t want to be blocking things, I wanted to pass the baton on to younger people with fresh ideas”, he said.

He continued: “I think there was a bit of tentativeness last year about whether or not people felt comfortable to come back to the cinema.

“It feels like this year we’ve opened the doors properly. Films do come alive in different ways but there’s nothing like paying them in front of a packed cinema audience.

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“We’ve played films people have probably seen on TV here but with other people all laughing at the same part or sobbing at a certain moment, it’s a completely different experience.”

One film in particular Hunter is looking forward to is Polite Society, which will close the festival.

The story sees a martial artist-in-training look to save her older sister from her impending marriage.

“I think it’s just a real crowd-pleasing comedy and the energy that generates is so different from watching it on your own.”

The Glasgow audience

Part of what makes the festival so special, according to Hunter, is the people.

“We get distributors coming from London and every time they say they sit down and somebody speaks to them.”

He adds that people are generally quite open-minded, willing to take on recommendations for films they otherwise might never have seen.

He explained: “I think people just accept they’re going to dive into diversity and everyone has been pretty open about that.

The National: The Glasgow Film Theatre will host many of the festival's screeningsThe Glasgow Film Theatre will host many of the festival's screenings (Image: File photo)

“We want people to come see Spanish films, German films and movies from all over the world. There's something for everyone”

Organisers have also been mindful of the cost of living crisis hitting households, with some screenings set to be free while others will allow people to pay what they can.

How is Scottish cinema looking?

Scottish cinema appears to be in a healthy place with Scots director Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun picking up four Bafta and one Oscar nomination.

Major Hollywood productions also see the country as an attractive place to film, including the upcoming Indiana Jones movie as well as Amazon’s successful TV series Good Omens.

“Just in terms of the experience that crews and everyone is getting, the camera crew, the production designers, all those people create a bigger reservoir of talent coming to Scotland.”

In spite of this, he believes that there is still room to improve even if that may prove challenging.

Hunter added: “I think the issue has always been whether Scottish filmmakers can tell Scottish stories.

“There are very interesting voices coming through. We have Girl, made by a Glasgow production company and written by a Glasgow-based writer/director, opening the festival.

“There’s still a bit of you thought that wonders where the next Lynne Ramsay (director of You Were Never Really Here) or the next Bill Forsyth (Local Hero, Gregory’s Girl) is going to come from.”