Glasgow Short Film Festival returns for its 14th edition

The mighty Glasgow Short Film Festival reveals the films in its two competitions, and shares its 2021 launch trailer

Article by Jamie Dunn | 17 Feb 2021
  • Alia Ghafar's SCUZZ

Glasgow Short Film Festival becomes the first annual film festival to have to go virtual twice, as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the UK film exhibition scene. While the 2020 festival took place during the pandemic, it was mostly curated beforehand, meaning GSFF will be able to address our changed world more directly in its lineup this year.

“We have been able to let our programme respond to both the virtual context as well as the wider conversations and collective needs that have come into focus over this pandemic,” says Sanne Jehoul, GSFF's co-director. “That has led to a programme which offers audiences more flexibility and complementary elements, such as our podcast episodes which provide additional context for and engagement with our programme and the filmmakers we’ve championed in the past, as well as live group Q&As with our Scottish competition filmmakers.”

We’re looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up with their upcoming edition, details of which will be shared fully on 10 March before the festival itself takes place 22 to 28 March. Until then, there’s news today of GSFF21’s two competitions: the Scottish Short Film Award and the Bill Douglas Award for International Short Film. Across the two competitions, GSFF21 will present seven world premieres, 14 UK premieres and two European premieres.

Surprisingly, given lockdown conditions for most of 2020, submissions were up almost 50% on last year. “We’re thrilled to be showcasing urgent, searching, moving works from across the world,” says Matt Lloyd, GSFF's director, “and whilst we’re sad that yet again we can’t introduce these filmmakers to our audience in person, we can at least ensure that their work reaches a wide audience in Scotland and across the UK.

“The selection was our most democratic decision to date,” he adds, “with a fantastic team of viewers involving themselves at every stage of the process.”

Scottish Short Film Award

The health and vitality of new Scottish cinema should be on full display in the Scottish Short Film Award, which each year honours inspiration and innovation in homegrown filmmaking. This 2021 lineup features 22 titles, including new work by two former recipients of the prize.

Alia Ghafar’s Salt and Sauce picked up the award in 2018, and Ghafar returns with the intriguing SCUZZ, which follows a night of bonding between Kim, a young bassist in a Glasgow band, and the 14-year-old tearaway who steals the guitar belonging to Kim’s bandmate. It sounds like it will be just the tonic for everyone missing Glasgow's nightlife.

The following year, Luke Fowler won with Mum’s Cards, an essay film celebrating Fowler’s mother and her career as a Sociology professor using the index cards she’s made notes on over the years. The Glasgow artist's new film, Patrick, looks like it’s in the same vein, creating a portrait of the eponymous music producer Patrick Cowley through his belongings.

“Our Scottish competition selection is as diverse in themes and forms as ever,” Lloyd says of the programme, “and we’re excited that amongst them are five world premieres.” The full list of films competing in the Scottish Short Film Award is below:

12th Man (Caitlin Black), Against the Tide (Giulia Candussi), Burn on Arrival, (Owen Gower) – World Premiere, Consumed (Karen Lamond), Do No Harm (Douglas King), Everyman (Jack Goessens), Expensive Shit (Adura Onashile), Forest Floor (Robbie Synge), Green Thoughts (William Hong-xiao Wei), Harmonic Spectrum (Austen McCowan, Will Hewitt), Isle of Us (Laura Wadha), Keith Water (Izzy Gibbs), Lighting Tests (Tom Nicoll) – UK Premiere, Lupi Lupi Lu (Adam Castle), The Mad Shagger (Ciaran Lyons) – World Premiere, Opal (Kirsty McLean), Patrick (Luke Fowler), Rare Creatures (Cameron Nicoll) – World Premiere, SCUZZ (Alia Ghafar), The Shift (Laura Carreira), Sudden Death (Rhona Mühlebach) – World Premiere, Zatvaranje (Chris Leslie) – World Premiere

Bill Douglas Award

GSFF's annual Bill Douglas Award is named in honour of the great Scottish filmmaker and is intended to celebrate the short film at GSFF that best reflects the qualities found in Douglas's own work, namely “honesty, formal innovation and the supremacy of image and sound in cinematic storytelling.” This year will be the award's tenth instalment, and to mark the occasion, GSFF will be screening a retrospective of the previous nine winners.

This year’s competition lineup, features 28 films from across the world, including works from Egypt, Colombia, South Korea, Iran, Brazil, Finland, Japan and Lithuania. The full list of titles competing is below:

Bella (Thelyia Petraki), Greece; Have a Nice Dog! (Jalal Maghout), Germany – UK Premiere; Heaven Reaches Down to Earth (Tebogo Malebogo), South Africa – UK Premiere; How to Die Young in Manila (Petersen Vargas), Philippines – European Premiere; Huntsville Station (Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer), USA – UK Premiere; I am afraid to forget your face (Sameh Alaa), Egypt; In her Steps (Anastasia Kratidi, Greece) – UK Premiere; It's All the Salt's Fault (María Cristina Pérez), Colombia – UK Premiere; It’s Alright (Jorūnė Greičiūtė), Lithuania – European Premiere; KKUM (Kim Kang-min), South Korea – UK Premiere; Letter to my mother (Amina Maher), Iran – UK Premiere; Life on the Horn (Mo Harawe), Somalia; Maalbeek (Ismael Joffroy Chandoutis), France – UK Premiere; MASS (Nadeem Din-Gabisi), UK; My Own Landscapes (Antoine Chapon), France; Natsuko (Shuna Iijima), Japan – World Premiere; One Thousand and One Attempts to Be an Ocean (Wang Yuyan), France – UK Premiere; People on Sunday (Tulapop Saenjaroen), Thailand; Places (Vytautas Katkus), Lithuania – UK Premiere; Red Aninsri; or, Tiptoeing on the Still Trembling Berlin Wall (Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke), Thailand – UK Premiere; Salvia at Nine (Jang Nari), South Korea – UK Premiere; Signs (Louise Stern), UK – World Premiere; So What If The Goats Die (Sofia Alaoui), France; Spotted Yellow (Baran Sarmad), Iran – UK Premiere; Store Policy (Sarah Arnold), France; Under the North Sea (Alberto Allica, Federico Barni), UK; Unliveable (Matheus Farias, Enock Carvalho), Brazil; Where to Land (Sawandi Groskind), Finland

James Price’s GSFF21 trailer

To get you in the mood for this year’s edition, take a look at this year's hilarious trailer for GSFF21. As is tradition, it’s been directed by last year’s Scottish Film Audience Award-winner. In this case it's James Price, who won with the ace Boys Night.

The trailer, which revisits the mural created for the 2020 festival trailer, stars Glasgow comedy legend Jonathan Watson (Only an Excuse?, Two Doors Down, Naked Video, City Lights), and it's as droll and self-deprecating as we've come to expect from GSFF trailers over the years, with Watson clearly not happy with his agent for setting up this particular gig. Watch the trailer in the player below or click here to watch on Vimeo.

GSFF 2021 Trailer from Glasgow Short Film Festival

Glasgow Short Film Festival runs 22-28 Mar. More info at

The Skinny is the official media partner of Glasgow Short Film Festival 2021