Glasgow Film Festival 2018

Posted on: 06 Mar 2018 by Philip Wyn Jones

I’ve been attending the Edinburgh Film festival for the past seven years. Recently I popped over to Glasgow to sample their film festival. The brochure was most inviting and I had no trouble in selecting 17 films. I viewed them at the GFT(Glasgow Film Theatre), CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) and Cineworld. Six screens are in use on a daily basis. Here are the films I watched, in the order in which I saw them.

1: Western (Valeska Grisbach, 1hour 59minutes) . This wasn’t a Western in the traditional sense of the word.  We follow a group of German workers as they travel to Bulgaria. Their job is to set up the initial stages of a sorely needed hydroelectric scheme. They clash with the locals and fight among themselves. One of the Germans is his own man. More mature and cultured than his colleagues, he socialises with the Bulgarians and there’s a hint of romance. Through his eyes the audience is drawn into the action on a physical and emotional level.

2: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Matt Tyrnauer, USA, 1hour 38minutes).As a handsome young man, Scotty Bowers set up a profitable business from his headquarters at a nondescript petrol station. He provided young men and women for the gay and lesbian stars of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. He recently published a book on the subject and that’s the basis of this entertaining and often surprising film. He even catered for British royalty. The success of his business was based on the promise that he would not reveal his customers’ secrets. Now he has done so and justifies his actions by saying that he hasn’t mentioned anyone who is still alive.

3: Keep the Change (Rachel Israel,USA, 1hour 34minutes). David, a rich young man, travels round the city by taxi. He has learning difficulties and personality problems. His mother keeps him on a tight leash. She appears to be caring but doesn’t really like or even respect him.  He has to attend a group for young men and women with similar problems to his. A bubbly young woman there takes an interest in him. There’s talk of love and marriage. What will his mother say? This lovely film has a moving climax which shows why David says “keep the change” to every taxi driver.

4: Disappearance (pictured - Ali Asgar, Iran, 1hour 28minutes).This powerful film begins as a young woman rushes into a hospital. She has a haunted, melancholy expression on her face. She phones a young man. He comes there. Who is he? What is her problem? Nurses and doctors try to help her but her lack of frankness combined with administrative rules and regulations make this impossible. Friends come to her aid but then…someone disappears.

5: The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey, Ireland, 1hour 33minutes). This animated film is set in Kabul, Afghanistan. Much of the music was recorded by local musicians on traditional instruments. The Taliban have gained control and we see how this affects one particular family. The father is arrested and imprisoned. His eleven year old daughter, Parvana, becomes the breadwinner. Can she, somehow, rescue her father? The city and the surrounding countryside are elegantly animated but, for me, the people seemed flat, inflexible and jerky.

Click here to read part 2

Philip Wyn Jones

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