Last year’s Glasgow Film Festival has the peculiar honour, conferred entirely by the vagaries of timing, to have been the last large-scale British festival to take place before the Covid-19 took hold of the nation. One year on, the UK is still – or at least once again – in lockdown, and for the first time the GFF has been forced to migrate entirely online for its duration from 24 February till 7 March. The viewing screens may be smaller, but the festival’s availability will be broader, easily accessible even to cinephiles nowhere near Glasgow.
Announced today, certainly the programme is as wide-ranging as ever, beaming six world premières, two European premières and 49 UK premières right into our homes, with, of course, a strong line-up of local cinema (including Anthony Baxter’s Eye of the Storm in its world première, Nick Moran’s Irvine Welsh-scripted Creation Stories, Heather Croall’s Australo-Scottish Yer Old Father and Stacey Lee’s EDM inequality doc Underplayed) to complement the titles from much further afield (including a special focus on South Korean cinema with Lim Jung-eun’s Our Midnight, Choi Jae-hoon’s The Swordsman, Shim Chan-yang’s Da Capo and Woo Min-ho’s The Man Standing Next). Tickets will go on sale from 12 noon on Monday 18 January online (more information is available here).
The festival opens with Lee Isaac Chung’s superb Korean take on the American Dream Minari and closes with Suzanne Lindon’s Paris-set rite of passage Spring Blossom. I can recommend all of the titles that I have already seen: Ben Sharrock’s local (yet Kaurismäki-esque) take on immigration and cultural translation Limbo; Lawrence Michael Levine’s self-scripting slice of metacinema Black Bear; Christos Nikou’s drily tricksy tale of pandemic amnesia Apples; Viktor Kosakovskiy’s immersive plea for farmyard empathy Gunda; Kevin Macdonald’s Gitmo-ised courtroom docudrama The Mauritanian (with a barnstorming performance from Tahar Rahim); and Chino Moya’s sort-of anthology of dystopian despair Undergods.
Beyond these, there will, in so eclectic a programme, inevitably be films to suit everyone’s tastes. My eye is naturally drawn to the genre end of things – the Glasgow FrightFest always caters well for this, but I also have high hopes for Philip Doherty’s Redemption of a Rogue, Zoé Wittock’s Jumbo, Anders Thomas Jensen’s Riders of Justice, Ryan Andrew Hooper’s The Toll, Aneil Karia’s The Surge, Erdem Tepegoz’s In The Shadows, Jeanette Nordahl’s Wildland, Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hvild’s Shorta and Lili Horvát’s Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time. But that’s just me – check out the GFF’s line-up for 2021, and you are bound to find yourself just as well accommodated.
© Anton Bitel