Gregory's Girl, Mogwai's Burning and Legacy bring Glasgow Film Festival 2010 to a close
Glasgow Film Festival blog
I returned to GFF for the closing day yesterday and discovered it had been an eventful weekend: Neil Marshall turned up at FrightFest to show off 20 minutes of Centurion, his forthcoming historical actioner featuring a naked Michael Fassbender in the snow; the surprise film was the Ben Stiller-starring Greenberg; Bad Lieutenant was several times hailed as the film of the festival and, most excitingly, police had to be called out when some troublemaking Black Metal fans tried to urinate on the GFT after being thrown out of a screening of Until The Light Takes Us. Good times.
The festival came to a triumphant end yesterday with three sold-out back-to-back screenings in GFT’s Cinema 1, and the three films and their respective audiences seemed to me to perfectly sum up GFF’s unique appeal and atmosphere. First was the 30th anniversary screening of Gregory’s Girl, attended by all the major cast members and held in memory of the film’s producer Clive Parsons. As Davina Belling, Parsons’ partner and Gregory’s Girl co-producer, said in her introduction, this is a film that we’re used to seeing now on the small screen, so to have the opportunity to share that with 400 others was special indeed. Bill Forsyth captured teenage life and love with a perfect balance of humour and insight that touched audiences around the world – apparently it’s one of Scorsese’s favourites – and it was lovely to see that even today everyone involved is flabbergasted at the impact Gregory’s Girl continues to make. Special mention should also go to the penguin that made an appearance at the screening; as Gregory himself John Gordon Sinclair said, with tongue firmly in cheek, "If you don’t know what the penguin means, you don’t know Gregory’s Girl”.
No sooner had the Gregory’s Girl crowd filed out, warmed by the spirit of classic cinematic nostalgia, then it was time for something completely different, but equally essential, with the premiere of Mogwai’s beautifully-shot black and white concert film Burning. After being “treated” to a selection of some of the worst music videos ever produced, courtesy of Mogwai’s Rock Action label (why is it that great bands are always fans of really dire music?), the muso-filled crowd lapped up the film, which was everything you would expect from the influential Glasgow band: artful, intense, sonically stunning and at points achingly self-indulgent. In person, the band are anything but pretentious though, and frontman Stuart Braithwaite hit the nail on the head in the post-screening Q&A when he said that all that really matters in music is the melody, describing conceptual music as “moribund” (a word I last heard uttered by the immortal Alan Partridge). For me, Burning reinforced the notion that Mogwai’s music works best as a purely aural experience, no matter how well constructed the accompanying images. But the crowd loved it, with sections of people spontaneously applauding throughout the film. Another great success for GFF.
So with the classic and the cutting edge audiences catered for, it was just left to the Closing Gala to provide some genuine excitement, with the world premiere of Legacy, starring Idris Elba, who should probably copyright the word “intense” on the strength of his performance in Thomas Ikimi’s film. It was produced by Scottish company Black Camel Pictures (their logo received a huge cheer when it appeared onscreen), shot entirely in Scotland and, as the company’s Arabella Page-Croft made clear in her introduction, was a labour of love from start to finish. Working on a miniscule budget, Ikimi demonstrates with Legacy that he’s a filmmaker with great potential and style, and I for one will follow his progress with interest. I met him afterwards in the heaving closing party – he had a bottle of champagne in one hand and a look of complete exhaustion on his face. “Enjoying it?” I asked him. “Trying to”, he replied. I thought he could do with a nice lie down. No such reticence for festival director Allison Gardener, who was so full of enthusiasm and energy that it seemed she could happily go on with the festival for at least another week. “This year the audience seems to have really got it!” she enthused, “It’s not just about watching the films, it’s about the whole experience of being here, and everyone being part of it”. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Roll on 2011 – I’ll be there, I hope you will too.