Southside Film Festival 2012
This week UK cinephiles will be looking south across the channel as the world’s most ostentatious celebration of cinema kicks off on the French Riviera with the 65th Cannes Film Festival. In a delicious bit of counter programming, the Southside Film Festival (SSF) invites Glaswegians to look south across the clyde for a more modest, but no less passionate, hymn to the movies.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, SFF has beefed up its programme and widened its inclusion zone to bring some tantalising films to an area of Glasgow rich with art and theatre but starved of the moving image.
South side talent make up a large slice of the menu, with local boy done good Peter Mullan opening proceedings with his most recent film, NEDS (18 May), a south side-set coming-of-age film that’s filled with the actor/director’s trademark absurdest humour and poetic imagery. A screening of Silver Tongues (20 May), an off-beat road movie about a sadistic couple who get their kicks playing mind games with the strangers they encounter as they cruise around New England, acts as a homecoming of sorts for Pollokshields-raised film-maker Simon Arthur and Comfort and Joy (20 May), Bill Forsyth’s askew take on Glasgow’s ice-cream wars and partly set in Govan, also gets a welcome showing.
If narrative films aren’t your bag there are plenty of documentaries and archive screenings to get excited about, the pick of which is Bernadette: Notes From a Political Journey (19 May). The story of Bernadette Devlin is an extraordinary one: a ferocious civil-rights activist and Irish republican, she was elected MP for Mid Ulster in 1969 – when she was only 21-years-old – and was subsequently dubbed ‘Fidel Castro in a miniskirt’ by her westminster colleagues. Next time you scan across the Commons’ benches during Prime minister’s questions and see row upon row of male, middle-aged, public school alumni, consider how exciting it must have been to have this whip-smart firebrand on the political scene. The screening forms part of Green Screen, a new strand celebrating Irish cinema, which also includes the acclaimed A Million Bricks (19 May), another documentary looking at the Troubles.
There’s plenty more to do besides watching films, including filmmaking workshops, a movie quiz and artists’ video installations. But what continues to be SFF’s biggest draw is its pop-up nature: it’s a four-day oasis of cinema in an area that’s usually a desert. This is achieved through inventive appropriation of unconventional spaces. Local nightclub The Shed again makes for an effective screening hub while some inspired programming is applied to the more quirky venues, which often sees the content of the films acting in conversation with their screening environments. Cathcart Scout Hall, for example, plays host to ‘films made by kids, for kids’ (19 May) and a shorts programme about swimming finds its perfect home at Govanhill Baths (19 May).
What makes SFF all the sweeter is that all you need to enjoy the festivities, which run from 17-20 May, is your bus fare for the number 38 as most of its happenings are free. Try finding a deal like that on la Croisette.