Glasgow Film Festival promises Paul Mescal’s latest and a trauma-haunted debut

Not every film festival takes place in a new era. But between the films, attendees at next month’s Glasgow Film Festival could hear the noise of politics raging outside the cinemas. The parliamentary constituency of Nicola Sturgeon, soon to be former First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, is directly opposite the Glasgow Film Theater on Rose Street.

But after the Sturgeon, the festival will, you suspect, happily move on into what’s next: a vital part of the European film calendar, immune to inclement weather, with an expertly curated program sprinkled with star names. This year, that includes Irish actor Paul Mescal, who is expecting an Oscar for his performance After sun. his new movie God’s creatureshas its British premiere at GFT.

However, as fate would have it, the 2023 line-up boasts a particularly rich roster of Scottish filmmakers, as well as others now based in the country. And questions of place and identity run through the work. Take Girl, the striking family portrait that will open the festival next Wednesday. The film is the debut of Glasgow-based actor and filmmaker Adura Onashile and is set and filmed in the city.

But part of its design is that we could be anywhere at first. Our heroine is Ama (Le’Shantey Bonsu), a beaming 11-year-old living with her African migrant mother, Grace (Déborah Lukumuena). The pair are close, but an anxious Grace is also overprotective – and insists Ama stay cooped up in her flat. So, like a modern-day James Stewart, she peers through binoculars into the homes of her unsuspecting neighbors with melancholic, inquisitive eyes rear window.

Paul Mescal as Brian in “God’s Creatures”

Haunted by trauma and still only in her twenties, Grace could easily be the girl of the title herself. The film delves deep into how entangled parental love can be when it’s also touched by parental pain. But Onashile also brings joy: the lyrical, compassionate film is bathed in the colors of fairgrounds and the makeup counter to which Ama eventually escapes. And when you finally see the city behind it, you realize: oh yes, that can only be Glasgow.

Girl‘s screening at GFF marks a homecoming after a world premiere at last month’s Sundance Film Festival. This trip from Utah to Rose Street is a regular trade route at this time of the movie year. Also a model for the long cultural exchange between Scotland and the USA. Another example would be Irvine Welsh. The talismanic Scottish author, now based in Miami, is back on screen in another world premiere, I’m a weekendera documentary that revisits the lost British film classic of 1990s club culture.

Equally well-travelled is Edinburgh-based documentary filmmaker Mark Cousins. And if Girl reminds you rear windowso does the latest project from the prolific cousins, My name is Alfred Hitchcock, a goblin-like salute in which the late master reflects on his back catalog of the bag of tricks, as the voice of impressionist Alistair McGowan. (Cousins ​​shield too The March on Romehis archival portrait of Mussolini’s rise to power.)

Finding Scottish talent throughout the program is straightforward. A partial list alone includes a world premiere for dog days, the jubilant Dundee redemption song by James Price; documentary Cassius X: Become AliAdaptation of Scottish journalist Stuart Cosgrove’s non-fiction account of the young Cassius Clay; The artist and the wall of death, starring Glasgow performance artist Stephen Skrynka in another tale of physical bravery; and Jo Reids The Freedom Machinea no less daring homage to the bicycle as a feminist agent.

Marie Colomb as Marie in The Beasts

But Glasgow is not an island city, and its film festival has broad horizons. This year’s international selection focuses on Spain, with titles such as the lively psychological thriller the beasts, and Penélope Cruz in the social realist call to arms On the edge. Elsewhere, another Sundance hit, Nida Manzoors polite society, brings the martial arts vim to London when a British-Pakistani schoolgirl heads to Singapore to save her sister from marriage; Canada gives us adult romcom The end of sex; and a surly cast of French cinema embraces Mia Hansen-Løve’s bittersweet romance A nice morning.

Of course, discovering something new is always exciting. It also drove in the predatory alien played by Scarlett Johansson under the skin, Jonathan Glazer’s brilliant sliver of minimalist science fiction. The best British film for a generation celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2023. And of course it’s a definitive Glasgow film: a stunning film set in Sauchiehall Street and the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre. (Maybe that’s even the same makeup counter that’s inside Girl?)

To celebrate the birthday, the festival is screening the film with a live performance of Mica Levi’s magnificently unnerving score by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. And then the audience can slip back to Glasgow; walking through the same city that Johansson so memorably brought a taste of other worlds to.

From March 1st to 12th,

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