The best film events in Scotland in September
The ten big screen movie happenings you should make time for this month, from epic cinema celebration Scalarama to brilliant festivals like Take One Action, SQIFF and GYFF
1) Scalarama (aka Scaledonia)
The Punk Singer
The joyously sticky-floored Scala Cinema may be no more, but it lives on in spirit through Scalarama, an annual cinema celebration named in honour of that seedy ol’ London grindhouse. Scotland’s indie film clubs, promoters and cinemas have always been enthusiastic supporters of this UK-wide festival, but they have gone above and beyond the call of duty this year with an epic line-up of weird and wonderful films screening. Highlights include Crime Wave (17 Sep, DCA), the perversely overlooked laugh riot from Canadian filmmaker John Paizs; a screening of Guy Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee with live score by Ela Orleans (21 Sep, CCA, Glasgow); and a brace of screenings of ace doc The Punk Singer, which explores iconic riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna (6 Sep, Leith Depot and 16 Sep, Fourwalls, Glasgow). For more highlights, see our five unmissable Scalarama screenings.
At various venues throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK; full details at scalarama.com
The kickarse Scottish Queer International Film Festival returns for its third year with another sharply curated line-up. Things kick off in grand style with a visit from New Queer Cinema ledge Bruce LaBruce with his new film The Misandrists on 27 Sep (LaBruce is also hanging around for a special screening of his 1995 queer classic Hustler White on 1 Oct).
Other highlights include closing movie Signature Move (1 Oct), Gregg Araki’s spaced out Nowhere on 30 Sep (part of a strand on bisexuality) and SQIFF’s annual Feminist Porn Night (29 Sep).
27 Sep-1 Oct, Glasgow, various venues; full details at sqiff.org
3) Take One Action
Does opening your Twitter feed make you want to weep? Does watching the news send you into a spiral of despair? What’s so inspiring about Take One Action is that it urges audiences to have a conversation, make a difference and take some action. This year’s programme includes films tackling such issues as the Syrian civil war (The War Show), Europe’s response to the immigration crisis (Stranger in Paradise, Boiling Point), Universal Basic Income (Free Lunch Society), the Black Lives Matter movement (Whose Streets?) and much more.
13-24 Sep, Glasgow and Edinburgh, various venues; full details at takeoneaction.org.uk
All those people banging on about the supposed golden age of television in which we’re currently living should be reminded of these small screen masterpieces from the great Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski. The 1990 series made for Polish TV takes the form of ten hour-long mini-movies set in and around a Warsaw high-rise, each film a meditation on one of the ten commandments. A couple of the episodes have become more familiar to film fans over the years, thanks to their expansion to feature length (A Short Film About Killing, A Short Film About Love), but the opportunity to see all ten in a oner should prove fascinating and allow film fans the opportunity to spot some of the less obvious connections between episodes.
5) Jean-Pierre Melville
Jean-Pierre Melville is a master filmmaker. The Frenchman’s vivid shooting style inspired the French New Wave and his ice cool action scenes have influenced every great action filmmaker who followed in his wake (Michael Mann, Walter Hill, John Woo, Nicolas Winding Refn and Quentin Tarantino are all Melville disciples). This year would have marked his 100th birthday, and cinemas up and down the land have been celebrating his career. Glasgow Film Theatre crown him this month’s CineMaster, while Filmhouse go to town with a ten film retrospective. Unmissable are The Red Circle, Army of Shadows and Bob le Flambeur while Le Samouraï and Les Enfants Terribles screen from 35mm at both venues.
6) Jean Moreau
Jean Moreau’s boldness, intelligence and smouldering sexuality made her a key player in the French New Wave, and one of the great screen stars of mid-20th century cinema.
Jules et Jim
Filmhouse celebrate Moreau, who died in July, with a trio of her most iconic roles: Louis Malle’s Lift to the Scaffold (17 & 19 Sep); sexy romance The Lovers (27 & 28 Sep), also by Malle; and Moreau’s most celebrated role as the young woman mesmerizing Jules et Jim (20 & 22 Sep) in Francois Truffaut’s beguiling melodrama.
7) Uncanny Valley
“Uncanny Valley is a place for dreams as well as nightmares,” reads the copy on Filmhouse’s new film series Uncanny Valley. “The hope here is to shine a lantern on the nocturnal neo-classics lurking in the shadows.” Looking at the season's upcoming line-up, this description offers up a wildly eclectic selection of films, from rock operas to violence satires to paranoid horrors.
The season kicks off in bizarre style with Waterworld, the little-loved steampunk swashbuckler that imagines a post-apocalyptic world where pretty much all land is below sea level; with the disturbing images of the recent natural disasters of Houston and Mumbai still fresh in our minds, this salty adventure should prove more potent than it did in 1995. Later this month there’s also So I Married an Axe Murderer, Mike Myers’ shaggy comedy about a commitmentphobe falling for the local butcher who may be a serial killer. Both films are kind of forgotten: in an age of conservative programming, it’s great to see these mid-90s oddities get the big screen treatment.
8) Homage to Catalonia
Homage to Catalonia – Scotland’s Catalan film festival – returns this month with what we’re told will be its biggest festival yet. As well as feature films, expect poetry, spoken word, talks and a particularly strong showing for the short filmmakers coming out of the region, who seem to be on fire right now. As evidence, two Catalan films made the short film shortlist at last year’s Oscars: Juanjo Gimenez’s Timecode and Lluís Quílez’s Graffiti. Both screen at Homage to Catalonia alongside Xavier Marrades’ Cucli and Cavalls Morts, the latest short animation from masters of the form Anna Solanas and Marc Riba.
The festival will also include documentary this year, which means Scottish audiences will get the chance to see Mauro Herce’s Dead Slow Ahead, which was described as “one of the most engrossing experiences I've ever had in a theater” by Emily Yoshida of The Verge. The full programme and guests will be announced in the coming weeks.
27 Sep-1 Oct, Summerhall, Edinburgh; 3-5 Oct, CCA, Glasgow cinemaattic.com
9) John Hughes double bill
For good or ill, John Hughes was the quintessential 80s filmmaker. In an incredible burst of creativity around the middle of that decade, he oversaw a run of extraordinarily tender and perceptive (although deeply flawed) teen movies that crystallised in the world’s mind what the life in an American high school might be like.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Park Circus are re-releasing a bunch of these films next month, but before then GFT screen two of Hughes' most-loved films – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club – in a double bill.
Brass Eye director Michael Cumming – who helmed all six episodes of the legendary comedy – has created a film about Chris Morris’s seminal tabloid news satire using hours of unseen footage from his personal archive. Described as “part documentary, part artwork,” Oxide Ghosts promises to provide a rare glimpse into Morris's extraordinary working practices.
The annual event programmed entirely by teen film-nuts kicks off with Just Charlie, Rebekah Fortune’s debut feature about a transgender child’s journey for acceptance, and closes with an immersive screening of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which sees Glasgow's Mackintosh Queen's Cross Church transformed into the film’s Camp Ivanhoe.
In between there’s an eclectic selection at films aimed at a fresh-faced audience, including a mint fresh anime (The Ancient Magus’ Bride), a hit German comedy (At Eye Level) and a classic about the friendship between a hitman and the young girl next door (Leon).
22-24 Sep, Glasgow, various venues; full details at glasgowfilm.org/gyff