Glasgow Film Festival 2023: Ten unmissable films

From environmental dramas to playful documentaries, here are ten unmissable films at this year's Glasgow Film Festival

Article by Jamie Dunn | 22 Feb 2023

How to Blow Up a Pipeline

Dir. Daniel Goldhaber

A ragtag of fresh-faced environmental activists (including Lukas Gage and Sasha Lane) take to Texas with a plan to blow up an oil pipeline. Daniel Goldhaber's film is so detailed you might feel you could do your own bit of eco-terrorism by the end of it – and with news of Shell’s profits this year, who could blame you? – but what makes this timebomb thriller really tick is its sly structure, which intermittently interrupts the mission to flash back to why each activist has turned to Semtex for justice. 2 & 3 Mar, GFT

I Like Movies

Dir. Chandler Levack

This early 00s-set coming-of-age comedy is sure to have a few members of GFF’s audience squirming at the toe-curling behaviour of its teen protagonist, a nerdy PTA-wannabe who lands a job at a video rental store where he pushes Todd Solondz movies onto unsuspecting couples looking for a nice rom-com. But after the initial cringe, Chandler Levack’s sharply composed debut reveals itself to be a much more interesting examination of grief with a tonne of Kubrick references thrown in. 8 & 9 Mar, Cineworld


Dir. Lourdes Hernández

Lourdes Hernández is fantastic as the smart-mouthed Ona, an aspiring actress who finds herself caught in a love triangle with two men: her easy-going chef husband and her director, who she initially meets while day drinking at a Madrid cafe and sparks fly. There are definite Worst Person in the World vibes to this black-and-white romantic comedy that periodically bursts into Almodóvarian colour, but Ramona has its own distinct flavour. 7 & 8 Mar, GFT

Dog Days

Dir. James Price

Is there a harder-working and more exciting young filmmaker in Scotland than James Price? He’s been dubbed the Springburn Scorsese but the title is well-earned: his soulful short films are an electric blend of Glasgow grit and American swagger, and we hope this has carried over to Dog Days, the debut feature he's assembled from a series he’s made for BBC Scotland. Neds' Conor McCarron, who was brilliant in Price’s Groundhog Day-meets-Scarface short Spiral, stars as a musician living rough on the streets of Dundee looking for a sliver of redemption. 5 Mar, GFT

My Name is Alfred Hitchcock

Dir. Mark Cousins

Is there a harder-working and more exciting documentary filmmaker in Scotland than Mark Cousins? He’s got two films in the GFF programme. There’s The March on Rome, his searing archive film looking at the roots of fascism in Europe, and this playful study of the Master of Suspense which sees the legendary director (voiced by Alistair McGowan) rewatch his classics. As is often the case with Cousins' films, even if you think you know all there is to know, the director has found fresh angles through which to explore these familiar subjects. 2 & 4 Mar, GFT

Skin Deep

Dir. Alex Schaad

Writer-director Alex Schaad's intriguing sci-fi seeks to explore what makes us us. We follow Leyla and Tristan, a young couple embarking on an unusual summer holiday: they’re switching their consciousness to different bodies, taking them for a test spin. The high-concept premise suggests Get Out by way of Midsommar, but rather than horror, Schaad seems more interested in questions of mental health’s connection to our corporeal form as well as questions about transgender identity and the concepts of soul mates. Colour us intrigued. 4 & 5 Mar, Cineworld


Dir. Zachary Wigon

Christopher Abbott, long one of the most interesting actors working on the US film scene, is one of the reasons to run to this kinky two-hander exploring the dynamic between a roleplaying sex worker and her long-term client. Abbott plays the heir to a hotel chain who’s become reliant on regular bouts of humiliation; Margaret Qualley plays the beguiling dominatrix who clearly relishes making this tycoon feel like a worm. Word is this is a wickedly fun battle of wills with plenty of heat. 4 & 5 Mar, Cineworld

Typist Artist Pirate King

Dir. Carol Morley

A new film from Carol Morley is always a wonderful surprise, simply because there’s no telling where this idiosyncratic filmmaker’s career will veer. Her latest sounds particularly eccentric, telling the untold story of schizophrenic avant-garde artist Audrey Amiss by imagining a road movie she might have taken with her long-suffering psychiatric nurse. As ever with Morley’s work, Typist Artist Pirate King is anchored by phenomenal female performances. Kelly Macdonald plays the nurse, while Monica Dolan is reportedly extraordinary as Amiss. 8 & 9 Mar, GFT

The Origin

Dir. Andrew Cumming

Think the Scottish weather is inhospitable? Imagine arriving here 45,000 years ago and trying to eke out an existence. That’s the premise of Andrew Cumming’s muscular thriller The Origin, which sees a group of early humans struggle to survive on one of our wind-blasted moors, and that’s before some mysterious entity starts picking them off one by one. The action filmmaking is brutal and free of fat, the performances are fierce and there’s a sly twist that’s as existentially troubling as it is narratively satisfying. 5 & 7 Mar, GFT


Dir. Matt Johnson

The story about the rise and catastrophic demise of the world's first smartphone doesn’t sound like it has the makings of a rollicking comedy, but that’s the early word out of the Berlin Film Festival, where BlackBerry has just had its world premiere. Films like Jobs and The Social Network were tragic dramas that painted their subjects with a mix of scorn and awe, but Matt Johnson seems to have found a refreshingly more playful angle to tell the story of the B-list tech moguls behind BlackBerry (played by Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton). 3 & 4 Mar, GFT

Read the full Glasgow Film Festival programme at