Glasgow Film Festival announces 2018 programme

Glasgow Film Festival reveals its huge and eclectic 2018 programme, with hundreds of lively events and screenings, including the new films from Lynne Ramsay, Claire Denis, Wes Anderson and Agnès Varda

Article by Jamie Dunn | 24 Jan 2018

Glasgow Film Festival has been running for 14 editions now and at this stage it’s ticking over like a fine Swiss watch. But don’t take this jewel in Scotland’s cinema calendar for granted: it’s not easy to make film festival curation look this effortless. This year’s edition runs 21 February to 4 March, and in this 11 day window the wild and wonderful world of cinema opens up to Glasgow film fans with a programme that balances the artistic and the commercial, the classic and the cutting edge, and the work by cinema masters with the films from the vibrant indie scenes much closer to home.

Opening and closing galas

Talking of watchmaker precision, the festival opens in the hippest way possible with the new stop motion animation from fastidious filmmaking genius Wes Anderson. Coming fresh from its Berlinale world premiere, Isle of Dogs has proved a popular choice as opener – the six (!) opening night screenings have already sold out – but equally eagerly-anticipated is the world premiere of Felipe Bustos Sierra’s documentary Nae PasaranClosing this year's festival, it tells the incredible true story of how a group of Scottish workers from East Kilbride managed to ground half of Chile’s Air Force through a beautiful act of solidarity with the Chilean people against Pinochet’s dictatorship. If anyone is feeling a bit helpless right now, this should prove a heartening reminder that individual actions have the power to change the world.

Films from our favourite auteurs

So a superstar filmmaker opens the festival, and a fierce local talent brings it to a close. A similar yin and yang can be found throughout the GFF lineup, but in Lynne Ramsay you get both. The Glaswegian filmmaker’s brutal revenge thriller You Were Never Really Here is a bruising but exhilarating experience and should be the hottest ticket in town. If you prefer your cinema on the gentler side, we’d urge you to seek out Faces Places, which sees filmmaking treasure Agnès Varda take to the road with a hipster doofus (photographer and muralist JR) for a sublime celebration of people and their faces. Another road movie of sorts is Andrew Haigh’s deeply moving Lean on Pete, a fine-grained story of a boy and his horse that avoids sentimentality at every turn. Todd Haynes, meanwhile, is also pulling at our heartstrings with Wonderstruck, which dovetails the stories of two 12-year-olds living 50 years apart.

For the auteur hunters there’s also the new film from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda, who’s taken a break from humane family dramas to make captivating crime mystery The Third Murder; Claire Denis shows her softer side with wry romantic comedy Let the Sunshine In, starring a luminous Juliette Binoche; there’s Wim Wenders’ romantic thriller Submergence, with Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy; Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel is back with period film Zama, her long-awaited follow-up to haunting psychological drama The Headless Woman; Paddy Considine delivers open-hearted boxing drama Journeyman; and there’s the latest antics from John Cameron Mitchell, who’s back in his wild mode with the charmingly daft sci-fi punk caper How to Talk to Girls at Parties, featuring Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman.

Trailblazing and emerging female filmmakers

The gender balance at GFF has always been better than most festivals, but in the year of the #MeToo movement GFF have packed a whole host of films from kickass women into their programme. A whole strand is given over to the extraordinary but underappreciated Ida Lupino. The steely actor became only the second woman to be invited into the Directors Guild of America when she stepped behind the camera in the 50s, and her stripped back, low-budget films were not only expressive and inventive, they also demonstrated a path of independent production for a whole generation of DIY filmmakers in the 70s and 80s.

Born in 1918, the season celebrates Lupino’s centenary, and another fiercely independent female filmmaker celebrating the same anniversary is Margaret Tait. Tait’s poetic spirit is always felt at GFF (an artists’ moving image prize and residency is handed out each year in her name), but a programme of her films screen alongside the work of Joanna Margaret Paul, an artist and poet from New Zealand with a similar knack to the Orcadian filmmaker for finding the sublime in the quotidian.

Josie Long in Super November

Alongside these pioneers, there are plenty of emerging female filmmakers featured in this years lineup, including Karen Gillan, whose debut The Party’s Just Beginning is making its world premiere, as is the first feature written by standup-turned-filmmaker Josie Long. Her Glasgow-set indie Super November, made with regular collaborator Douglas King, blends romantic comedy and Orwellian dystopia, and hopefully builds on the charming short films the pair have made in the city. We’ve also heard great things about The Rider, a lyrical drama from Chinese-born American filmmaker Chloé Zhao that centred around an severely injured rodeo cowboy, and there's also Pin Cushion, Deborah Haywood's emotionally bruising study of bullying and mental illness that comes wrapped in a deceptively whimsical aesthetic.

Classic films shown in a new context

GFF always make sure to weave classic cinema into the fabric of the festival. Each day will kicks off with a screening from the Rebel Hero retrospective, featuring various angry young men of cinema, from Steve McQueen and Sidney Poitier to James Dean and Elvis. Also peppered throughout are special immersive screenings presenting familiar films in new but apt contexts. For example, GFF’s 20th anniversary screening of Coen Brothers favourite The Big Lebowski is paired with a few frames of bowling and presumably a fair few White Russians, and Bill Murray's existential comedy classic Groundhog Day screens daily throughout the festival at Flat 0/1, complete with Punxsutawney-inspired decor. Office-set classics Working Girl and Die Hard are being screened in the perfect setting: an office block. Gregory’s Girl and Clueless, meanwhile, are playing simultaneously followed by a school disco, allowing you to choose your prefered tribe and then party to hits from both films’ respective eras, and Bill Murray's existential comedy classic Groundhog Day screens daily throughout the festival at Flat 0/1, complete with Punxsutawney-inspired decor. 

If you prefer your classic films straight up, there are welcome revivals of Jean-Luc Godard’s witty 1986 provocation The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company and Taiwanese masterpiece Legend of the Mountain, with a restored version of King Hu’s director’s cut screening.

Music is never far away in Glasgow, and the same goes for GFF, which has a typically stellar Sound & Vision strand this year. As well as some intriguing docs and biopics about music legends (Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Rotten, Nico), there are a couple of unmissable live score events. Tickets should go fast for The Unfilmables, a curious concept in which Mica Levi and Wrangler (the electronic supergroup made up of Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter from Tunng, and Benge) imagine scores to films that were never actually made. We’d also urge you not to miss out on the screening of Margaret Salmon’s Mm, a poetic documentary centred around Speedway motorcycling, which will be live scored by Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Sacred Paws.

Famous names coming to Glasgow

Karen Gillan in The Party's Just Beginning

In terms of celebs walking the red carpet, GFF have revealed a handful of the famous faces confirmed to attend at this early stage. Independence Day star Bill Pullman will attend the premiere of The Ballad of Lefty Brown alongside an in-person look back at his extensive career on the screen, from Spaceballs to The Sinner. Imogen Poots (Green Room, 28 Weeks Later) will be in town for Mobile Homes, which is described as "a starkly realistic tale of American prefab life". And Karen Gillan, Paddy Considine and Lynne Ramsay will introduce their new films mentioned above, with the latter also making a guest appearance on a live recording of Edith Bowman’s music and movies podcast Soundtracking.

Some of GFF past guests are also bringing films to the festival once again: David Tennant with the European premiere of You, Me and Him, Gregory’s Girl star John Gordon Sinclair with the Scottish premiere of music biopic Nico, 1988, and Ben Wheatley doesn't have a new movie, but he is back in Glasgow for an intimate, in-person chat about his career and his inspirations.

This year’s GFF programme is so jam-packed we’ve not even had time to mention the country focuses (Ireland and the Baltic states), new strand Future Cult, which includes a tribute to exploitation king Larry Cohen, the hair-raising FrightFest lineup, the always illuminating experimental film strand Crossing the Line and the ever-growing Industry Focus section. Our advice: grab this year’s GFF brochure and an assortment of sharpies and begin making a long list of films you want to see. Whatever your movie bag, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy in this massive and eclectic programme.

Glasgow Film Festival 2018 runs 21 Feb to 4 Mar

The full programme and tickets are available at the Glasgow Film Festival website. Further guests attending will be announced nearer to the festival date – so watch this space

Follow all The Skinny’s coverage of Glasgow Film Festival over at and be sure to pick up the CineSkinny, the official GFF magazine, during the festival at GFF venues.