As the fifth Glasgow Film Festival and the third Middle Eastern Film Festival set out their stalls, there's nothing bleak about this midwinter for lovers of international cinema, as Paul Dale discovers
February used to be particularly problematic for the Scottish-based film obsessive. With the Rotterdam, Berlin and Sundance festivals running back to back from the end of January through February, it used to seem like the whole world was getting to watch great films while we rotted in the wet, awaiting the launch of Edinburgh's programme. It's been five years now since the Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) breached that void with a little bit of funding and a lot of good will, while over in Edinburgh the excellent Middle Eastern Film Festival (MEFF) is now celebrating its third anniversary.
Both festivals have shown a year on year rise in ambition and scope. This year the MEFF will, according to the organisers, 'focus on mapping the changing and evolving character of Iranian cinema' with significant works, new and old. The GFF is similarly full of rare delights. The full programme was still to be launched at time of going to press but we can confirm that as well as Audrey Hepburn and new Mexican cinema retrospectives there's a feast of new European titles, Palme D'Or winner The Class among them, alongside anticipated world titles such as Cape No 7, Still Walking and Laila's Birthday. For those of a patriotic bent there's a focus on all things Scottish in the Great Scots strand (sponsored by The List), which features Richard Jobson's New Town Killers plus The Dungeon Moor Killings. There's also a new Music and Film section with events at King Tut's and The Arches. Plus, don't forget The List Surprise Movie on Saturday 21 February. So take a tip from Lennon and McCartney – 'turn down the light / come in out of the cold / step inside love'. February is all about the movies.
Glasgow Film Festival, Thu 12–Sun 22 Feb. Full programme available at www.glasgowfilmfestival.org.uk from Thu 22 Jan. Middle Eastern Film Festival, Sat 31 Jan–Thu 19 Feb. Visit www.mesp.org.uk for details.