Glasgow Film Festival 2023 has come to an end, here are this year’s highlights

“One of the things we’re very very proud of is that our opening and closing galas are debut features from young female directors.”

Following eleven days of meticulously curated cinema that brought a rich and diverse programme of visual art and perspectives to the city, the nineteenth edition of Glasgow Film Festival has come to a close.

The event was described by its co-director Allison Gardner as “extremely well attended” which I can certainly vouch for - almost no screening I witnessed had an empty seat, and from conversations with other participants as well as the various accents I picked up it seems people travelled from across the UK and beyond to be there.

It’s a bittersweet moment this conclusion, as while independent cinema runs all year round at the GFT, the annual festival invites a collective celebration of these voices and talent, and affirms the strength of Glasgow’s film community.

It was enjoyable to experience, educational and extremely worthwhile. The excitement shared between actors, filmmakers, audiences and festival crew drove an energy right through until final curtain close. I’m sad it’s over for another year.

To honour the 2023 event, here are some highlights:

GIRL, debut feature by director Adura Onashile

Quite surprisingly, GIRL made GFF history as the first opening movie to be shot in Glasgow.

Onashile, who moved to the city from London 12 years ago, presents themes of immigration, politics, motherhood, girlhood, friendship and trauma, articulated through striking performances by lead actors Déborah Lukumuena and Le’Shantey Bonsu.

“One of the things we’re very very proud of is that our opening and closing galas are debut features from young female directors,” said Gardner.

Therapy Dogs, a film about teenagers by teenagers

Therapy Dogs was created in the suburbs outside Toronto by high school seniors Ethan Eng and Justin Morrice.

There’s certainly so scarcity of the coming of age high school movie but it’s rare to see such an authentic portrayal of what it is to be a teenager on the verge of adulthood .

The issue is, the one’s closest to this experience are generally too young to have acquired the means to enact such a project, and thus when the story is told, it is told by older people, physically and emotionally distanced from the current reality.

Eng and Morrice, who were 17 when they started filming, sought support from a local production house to create the movie, and used their own school and fellow students as the subject of storylines. Merging fact and fiction, Therapy Dogs perfectly captures the silly innocence of youth and its intense nature.

Nightsiren, latest work of Slovakian director Tereza Nvotová

A witchy folk horror set in the Slovakian mountains that deals with death, trauma and the patriarchal structures that inhibit female independence.

The film’s torments reflect a real-life backlash in progressive values and threats to women’s rights in political cultures across the world, thus while its lush imagery and dramatics will keep an audience entertained for the duration, it’s the events they come back to when the movie’s over that are the most significant takeaway.

Typist, Artist, Pirate, King, biopic on the beautiful mind of Audrey Amiss

Carol Morley’s latest directorial project held its UK premiere on International Women’s Day which seemed rather fitting for a film celebrating the life and work of Audrey Amiss, an eccentric artist whose work was discovered posthumously.

The name came from Amiss herself; to get to know her Morley was granted access to her entire archive collected by her family after her death. In Audrey’s old passport she’d noted her occupation as Typist, Artist, Pirate, King, “and I just knew that had to be the title”.

Carol told us the film was “fictional but authentic”, her artistic aim was to capture her subject’s spirit and enthusiasm through her unique lens and allow her a voice.

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, a childhood classic turned nightmare

The cast and crew attended the GFT for the much-anticipated UK premiere of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, a film that twists the beloved tale of a yellow bear and his forest friends into something horrific.

While the film was rated just 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, intrigue drove interest, and this film became the focal feature of Fright Fest.

Made in under ten days of intense filming on a budget of £100,000, this Winnie the Pooh caters for adult audiences, showing what happened when Christopher Robin returned to the 100-acre woods after the honey had dried out.

Rye Lane, “a modern day Harry met Sally” - Allison Gardner

Speaking on the red carpet Raine Allen-Miller said she didn’t want to direct a film she hadn’t written then she read the script for Rye Lane and laughed out loud on the train. The next question was what she could add.

Rye Lane is an aesthetically pleasing romcom set in the streets of South London. A young man and a young woman, both nursing bad breakups, both extremely flawed but both extremely likeable.

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