The Best Film Events in Scotland this September
The ten big screen movie happenings you should make time for this month, from Take One Action! and Glasgow Youth Film Festival to the various goings on of Scalarama
1. Take One Action!
We need Take One Action! (TOA), the UK’s leading social change film festival, more than ever. In a world where politicians lie daily while branding any form of criticism “fake news”, where the far right is on the rise across Europe, and where governments around the world continue to turn a blind eye to climate change and environmental catastrophe, the opportunity to join together at a festival that pushes back at such social and environmental injustices is welcome.
Highlights this year look to be opening film Anote’s Ark (12 Sep, Filmhouse; 13 Sep, Glasgow Film Theatre; 14 Sep, Filmhouse), Matthieu Rytz's award-winning documentary about the crisis confronting the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, an isolated archipelago that has begun to be inundated by rising seawater; Time for Ilhan (13 Sep, Filmhouse; 14 Sep, CCA, Glasgow), Norah Shapiro's stirring documentary chronicling Ilhan Omar's political campaign that began in 2015 and eventually saw her become the first Somali refugee to be elected to the US House of Representatives; and Silvana (14 Sep, Filmhouse; 18 Sep, GFT), a documentary following the Swedish punk hip-hop star of the same name, whose queer, feminist, anti-racist lyrics expose the many prejudices bubbling under the surface of Sweden’s progressive image.
The Silvana screenings will be followed by a spoken word and musical performances by Scotland-based artists whose work explores women’s empowerment, marginalised experiences and notions of belonging. At the time of writing, poets Nadine Aisha Jassat and Hannah Lavery are confirmed for the Edinburgh screening, while hip-hop artist Erin Friel, musician Heir of the Cursed and poets Tawona Sithole, Katie Ailes and Leyla Josephine will perform in Glasgow
12-23 Sep, various venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh. More info here
The annual celebration of DIY cinema – named in honour of the notorious London grindhouse cinema the Scala – is back to fill up the land with cinemas. As ever, the Scottish chapter of the UK wide festival is particularly lively. Top of our list of must-sees is Matchbox Cineclub’s very rare screening of Joe Dante's The Movie Orgy, the Gremlins and Innerspace director’s epic montage of pop-culture effluvia which the young Dante spliced together for shits and giggles in the late 60s to entertain college students (9 Sep, The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow). Another must see is The Reel Girls’ presentation of Susan Seidelman’s spiky debut Smithereens, about an aspiring punk rocker making her way in New York in the early 80s scene; the screening also features a live set by a local punk band (30 Sep, Norton Park Conference Centre, Edinburgh).
Other highlights in the eclectic lineup include Burnt Church Club’s screenings of The Descent and Gangs of New York with Glasgow actors Shauna MacDonald and Gary Lewis in attendance; a celebration of Glasgow’s grizzled detective Taggart, which turns 35 this year; a screening of David Lynch’s nightmarish noir Blue Velvet (and free gin and tonic) with the Welcome to Gin Peaks podcast; and a batshit crazy Turkish remake of Star Wars.
Throughout Sep, various venues. More info here
3. Agnès Varda
GFT celebrates one of the world’s greatest directors with this CineMasters season featuring many of the French filmmaker’s finest films. The season begins with Varda’s dreamy debut La Pointe Courte, which centres on the rambunctious inhabitants of an impoverished fishing village and a miserable couple from the city who are visiting family there on holiday. Released in 1955, Varda’s film predates Chabrol's Le Beau Serge (1958), Truffaut’s 400 Blows (1959) and Godard’s Breathless (1960) yet displays many of the qualities we now associate with the Nouvelle Vague.
Other Varda films to catch include her extraordinary Cléo from 5 to 7, which follows a singer over 90 minutes as she wanders through Paris waiting for result from a biopsy, readying herself for the worst; her most gorgeous and troubling film Le Bonheur, a thoughtful and provocative study of a man who finds himself in love with two women, the film’s aesthetic beauty masking its dark undercurrents; and the melancholy Vagabond, a downbeat road movie of sorts following a woman hitchhiker who’s detached herself from mainstream society.
Varda herself turns up in front of the camera in her charming The Gleaners and I, a documentary following people who “glean”, from farm workers who follow the harvester to a chef who forages for food and artists who work with found objects. You’ll find the nonagenarian front of center in her new film Faces Places, too, which opens across the UK from 21 Sep.
5-27 Sep, Glasgow Film Theatre. More info here
4. Irvine Welsh: House Guest
Irvine Welsh is no stranger to the big screen. Five of his novels have been adapted into films so far, including The Acid House, Ecstasy and Filth. And with Trainspotting, he gifted us one of the UK’s finest movies and captured the mood of an entire generation. The Leith man will be sharing some of his favourite films on Filmhouse’s screens throughout September, including Billy Wilder’s noir masterpiece Double Indemnity (8 Sep), Werner Herzog’s study of absurd human ambition Fitzcarraldo (9 Sep), and John Schlesinger’s iconic New York bromance Midnight Cowboy (20 Sep).
There’s also James Cagney joint Each Dawn I Die (27 Sep), Franc Roddam’s mod teenpic Quadrophenia (23 Sep) and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (17 Sep), which Welsh will introduce himself. “I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face…” says Welsh of his choice of Sunshine over one of his own collaborations with Boyle. “This is my favourite film of Danny's. It's one of the three he's done where I've bothered to drop him a line saying 'good work mate'. I put it up there with 2001 or the original Solaris in the pantheon of great sci-fi movies.”
8-27 Sep, Filmhouse, Edinburgh. More info here
5. Glasgow Youth Film Festival
Celebrating both its tenth anniversary edition and coinciding with Scotland’s Year of Young People, the brimming programme for the Glasgow Youth Film Festival – curated by a group of sharp Young Programmers aged 15-19 – mixes both mint fresh indie titles with recent classics and a pair of free-to-attend creative workshops. Highlights include 14 Sep's opening film Anna and the Apocalypse – a teen zombie horror musical mashup shot in Port Glasgow – and a screening of Richard Linklater’s School of Rock complete with a battle of the bands competition featuring local talent (16 Sep). Also not to be missed in GYFF’s screening of Crystal Moselle’s uber-cool Skate Kitchen (15 Sep), following a group of girl skaters on the streets of New York (played by a real-life skate crew). Moselle and some of her young stars are attending the screening for a Q&A.
14-16 Sep, various venues, Glasgow. More info here
6. The Endless
We love entering the Uncanny Valley, Filmhouse’s late-night programming strand that wanders into the darker recesses of cinema’s recent history. For example, there’s a screening of Pete Travis’ (or should that be Alex Garland’s) Dredd (21 Sep), the brutal adaptation of the long-running Judge Dredd comic that just about makes up for the dismal Sly Stallone one from the mid-90s. Uncanny Valley's bread and butter is cult movies, but they break with tradition this month and screen a mint-fresh feature: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's The Endless, an intriguing-looking sci-fi following two brothers who escaped a UFO suicide cult in their youth and decide to return to the commune years later after receiving a mysterious message. If you saw Benson and Moorhead’s previous film Spring, a kind of Before Sunrise meets Species horror-romance, you’ll know to expect something special.
7 Sep, Filmhouse, Edinburgh. More info here
Blueprint returns with another night of Scottish Independent Shorts on 27 Sep, and a whole weekend of activities on 29-30 Sep with Blueprint: Theorem, a mini festival featuring eight indie features screening for free. Included are Starcache, the debut film from Gregory’s Girl actor Douglas Sannachan, and Where Do We Go From Here?, the first feature from John McPhail, whose Anna and the Apocalypse opens this year’s Glasgow Youth Film Festival.
8. Working Class Heroes
Curated by the BFI’s Danny Leigh, this programme is described as “a collection of films lit up by the charisma of working class stars, a celebration of fine actors and remarkable leading roles.” The brilliant Billy Liar kicks off the ecclectic season, which also includes Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave, Shane Meadows’s This Is England and Night Watch, an old-school whodunit starring Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey and the great Billie Whitelaw.
4-25 Sep, Glasgow Film Theatre. More info here
9. The Miseducation of Cameron Post & Emily Danforth Q&A
Desiree Akhavan's The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a coming-of-age film about a young gay woman being put through conversion therapy by her Christian parents, is one of our favourite films of the year so far. The film opens nationwide on 7 September, and Filmhouse kick off their run with a Q&A with Emily Danforth, author of the novel on which Akhavan’s film is based.
7 Sep, Filmhouse, Edinburgh. More info here
10. Turkish Star Wars
Part of Scalarama, Cameo are screening a real treat for fans of weird and wonderful movies: Çetin İnanç's 1982 film Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, which you might know better as its unofficial title – Turkish Star Wars. İnanç's film received this moniker not because it rips off Star Wars’ plot – like many sci-fi films did in the early 80s – but because it unabashedly pilfers footage from A New Hope to create its space scenes.
Up until recently, prints of İnanç's audacious movie were extremely rare, but it’s fresh from being given a digital spit and polish by film historian Ed Glaser. “I’ve never really seen anything like it. It’s a little bit like a fever dream,” said Glaser. “It’s so unique. Visually it’s so lurid and vivid and wild and crazy. There’s just nothing else like it.” You can enter this lurid fever dream for free on 14 September, so best grab your tickets while you still can.
14 Sep (midnight), Cameo, Edinburgh. More info here