The curtain goes up on the 10th Glasgow Film Festival this evening with the UK premiere of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a star-studded extravaganza set at a luxurious hotel in an imaginary European country between the wars. A decade after Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) brought the inaugural GFF to a close, it’s a fitting opener to an ever-expanding festival that this year takes in 60 UK premieres and a host of special events at unique venues across the city.
It’s also a year to celebrate 75 years of the festival’s home cinema, the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT), which began life in 1939 as the Cosmo Cinema, Scotland’s first purpose-built arthouse cinema. In 2014, the GFT plays host to UK unveilings of My Name Is Hmmm…, the directorial debut of fashion designer agnès b.; Australian horror sequel Wolf Creek 2; Mood Indigo and Go for Sisters, the latest films from Michel Gondry and John Sayles respectively; and a brand-new digital restoration of the James Dean classic Rebel without a Cause (1955).
Scottish premieres include Jonathan Glazer’s eagerly awaited Under the Skin, which closes the festival and is partly filmed and set in the city; the one-man drama Locke, starring Tom Hardy; and the Oscar-nominated 20 Feet from Stardom, a documentary tribute to rock ‘n’ roll backing singers. BAFTA-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton star in Half of a Yellow Sun, adapted from the Orange Prize-winning novel of the same name; there’s the highly acclaimed prison drama Starred Up, starring Jack O’Connell; The Book Thief, featuring Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush; and the third film by Joanna Hogg, Exhibition. Under the Skin, Half of a Yellow Sun and Exhibition are backed by the BFI Film Fund.
GFF has developed a reputation for imaginative site-specific screenings, with previous years’ festivalgoers enjoying Jaws (1975) in the hull of a boat and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) in Glasgow Cathedral. This year, fancy-dress fans can get dolled up in gothic garb for a special screening of Mel Brooks’ horror spoof Young Frankenstein (1974) in the grand setting of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. There’s a mystery film deep underneath Central Station, in a location that’s never been accessed before, let alone for a screening. And an industrial warehouse in north Glasgow goes retro-futurist for an outing for Disney’s pioneering 80s computer adventure Tron (1982).
“In the decade since the festival began, it’s grown almost beyond recognition,” says Allan Hunter, GFF’s co-director. “One thing remains essential, though – GFF is and will always be an access-all-areas event, where you can meet the filmmakers, ask awkward questions, and make friends with the person sitting next to you.”
“2014 is set to be a thrilling year for Scotland with the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming attracting visitors from all over the world. Glasgow is at the heart of these celebrations and we are proud to offer our special anniversary programme as part of what promises to be an amazing period in the life of the city.”
The Glasgow Film Festival, sponsored by the BFI, runs from 20 February - 2 March 2014.