By Adam Ray Palmer
And that’s that for another year. The 16th edition of the Glasgow Film Festival has come to an end for 2020.
Cineroom have now been at the last three editions, with this year certainly proving to be the best yet for us…
Glasgow’s film festival has now become a regular feature in Cineroom’s calendar, usually taking place directly after the Berlin Film Festival each year. The Scottish programme in recent years has really stepped up its game with it including nine world premieres and 102 UK premieres. In addition, since 2015, the festival had seen audience figures top 40,000 for consecutive years.
Out of those 40k at this year’s festival, Cineroom (or myself at least) is one of them. Over the past week, we have covered six films, each offering something completely different to each other. From comedy-dramas, to thrillers, to prison break-out movies and of course your usual rom-coms.
The first we reviewed was Francis Annan’s apartheid thriller, Escape From Pretoria. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Daniel Webber; the movie is a 100-minute slow burn. As the breakout ensues, we go through the highs and lows with them, and as the final act plays out, you feel like you’re the fourth prisoner alongside them. It’s tense and gripping stuff!
We followed that with two movies, Eden and Olympic Dreams, that are quite similar in themes, but the narratives are certainly different. Eden follows a young couple who become drug dealers in Reykjavik but want nothing more than to get away and start a new life. And Olympic Dreams centres on a young cross-country skier who bonds with a volunteer doctor after her competition ends. Both movies have completely differently tales, but both have a strong love story at the heart of them.
The fourth and fifth films we covered were the Italian flick Paradise and the UK picture, Denmark. Both these movies also had a link actually… crime. Paradise follows Calogero who enters the witness protection program after having witnessed a mafia murder in Sicily. However, he soon finds out the killer he had reported started a new life there too. And Denmark sees a down-on-his-luck Welshman make a decision to change his life for the better by travelling across Europe to get himself arrested and sent to a Danish prison where the beds are warm, and the water is hot. Both these narratives are quite farfetched, but the movies do just about pull it off. The entertainment is there, and the performances are great, but they won’t light up the world.
The final film we reviewed was the eternally beautiful, Eternal Beauty. Craig Roberts, actor-turned-writer-turned director, arrived at the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival with his second feature-film from behind the camera. If you expect him to still be learning his craft, you’d be right, but I think you would be incredibly surprised at how accomplished Eternal Beauty is.
In an honest and refreshing approach, the movies tackles a few tough social subjects with an array of talent on the bill including the irreplaceable Sally Hawkins, David Thewlis, Alice Lowe and Billie Piper. Hawkins plays Jane, a fragile lady who falls into a state of despair over her schizophrenia. But along her journey to find her happiness, she encounters new sources of love and life with surprising results. Eternal Beauty is poignant, a thought-provoker and littered with incredible performances, notably Hawkins and Thewlis. It’s sensitive look at mental health is ever so tender that you just immediately fall in love with what the film is trying to do. The most important piece of dialogue that makes you end the film with a smile is a quip by Jane back to a photographer when he says he is “normal” in reply to her having schizophrenia. She immediately, without a thought, retorts “boring”. What a final word – our film of the festival.
A quick final note to the organisers, the press teams and the volunteers of the Glasgow Film Festival… thank you for your help and your replies to my relentless emails! The festival is so greatly run that it makes everything so easy. The quick responses, the screener links and thorough messaging throughout – it’s a joy to cover this festival.
Until next year Glasgow, Thank ye.