Glasgow Film Festival to turn the Arches into Neo-Glasgow

Glasgow Film Festival announce its first set of special event screenings, which will turn the Argyle Street Arches into Neo-Glasgow for a weekend of special immersive film screenings of sci-fi cult classics from Total Recall to Tank Girl

Article by Jamie Dunn | 11 Dec 2019
  • Total Recall

Ever wander around that bit of Argyle Street underneath Glasgow Central station and get the feeling you’ve stepped on to the set of a neo-noir? Nicknamed Hielanman's Umbrella, because it’s where a community from the Highlanders used to congregate after the Highland Clearances, this passageway linking Hope Street and Union Street has a distinct cyberpunk vibe, partly thanks to the way the electric blue neon of the Blue Lagoon chippy illuminates the steel of the railway supports and the stone of its arches.

Talking of arches, you’ll also find the entrance to the Argyle Street Arches, the most cyberpunk of all venues in Glasgow. It’s within this dark and atmospheric part of town that Glasgow Film Festival will be taking over for a special weekend of screenings. The Argyle Street Arches will be transformed into “Neo-Glasgow” and will host a quartet of events centred around four sci-fi classics imagining a dark future for mankind.

First up is Paul Verhoeven’s brutal sci-fi actioner Total Recall (28 Feb), which GFF co-director Allan Hunter rightly calls “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest hour”. In it, Arnie plays a construction worker living a peaceful life in 2084, but this average Joe is sent into a tailspin when he discovers he's been implanted with false memories and has a previous life living on Mars. As ever with Verhoeven, the breakneck storytelling and bone-crunching action is peppered with razor-sharp satire and pitch-black humour.

Similarly propulsive and full of a wild wit is 1995 cult fave Tank Girl (29 Feb). Lori Petty stars as the eponymous post-apocalyptic survivor in the Aussie outback who’s kicking mutant arse and taking on Malcolm McDowell's evil capitalist who’s trying to get hold of the world’s untapped water reserve. Tank Girl’s inventive mix of live-action, pop animation, crazy prosthetics (try and spot Ice-T under his makeup) and musical numbers was too much for some critics to handle in the mid-90s, but it’s gained a cult following over the last 25 years and is ripe for rediscovery.

There’s a different type of apocalypse on offer in South Korean thriller Train to Busan (1 Mar). With this breakneck horror, director Yeon Sang-ho takes a pleasingly novel approach to the zombie movie: he sets it on a train. The cramped location only adds to the nail-biting tension, as a father and daughter, plus a ragtag of other non-infected passengers, have to make their way from one end of the train to the other via zombie-infested carriages. The rumbling of trains from Central Station above should add to the atmosphere, and we’re told “this high-octane zombie thriller will spill off the screen as audiences try and make it through the night avoiding infection from the hordes of the undead. Remember, look out for signs of infection and trust no one!”

Of the four films screening as part of Neo-Glasgow, perhaps the bleakest vision of humanity is the film made for kids: the Pixar masterpiece WALL-E (1 Mar). This story of a knee-high robot who spends his days cleaning up the trash left on an abandoned Earth, collecting trinkets from human detritus and swooning over a VHS of cheesy musical Hello, Dolly feels even more relevant by the day as we sleepwalk towards a climate catastrophe. As well as the screening, we’re told this “fun-packed event will put a family-friendly spin on robots, zero-waste lifestyle and reducing your carbon footprint.”

“The Special Events are one of my favourite parts of working at Glasgow Film Festival,” says Allison Gardner. “Every year the team bring a special kind of magic to well-loved films and a new audience are introduced to our wonderful festival. As a huge fan of sci-fi films, I am so looking forward to Neo-Glasgow and the terrors and exciting adventures we’ll encounter together. As they say in Total Recall – Get ready for the ride of your life.”

Tickets to all the film screenings at Neo-Glasgow go on sale at noon on Thu 12 Dec from and GFT Box Office; the immersive programme of events will run throughout the day and are free and non-ticketed
The full programme for Glasgow Film Festival 2020 will be announced on 29 Jan