Reviews

GFF 2012: ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ kicks things off

It’s business as usual at this year’s 2012 Glasgow Film Festival. Whilst other arts events are downsizing amid cutthroat public funding cuts – most notably Scotland’s older, loftier, more celebrated film festival in Edinburgh – Glasgow continues to grow, adding a couple of new strands off of which to hang its bursting 2012 lineup. The Opening Gala film comes fresh from this year’s Sundance Film Festival – Your Sister’s Sister, Lynn Shelton’s follow-up to her riotous 2009 mumblecore bromance Humpday, whilst closing duties fall to Aki Kaurismäki’s whimsical French fancy Le Havre, to be released nationwide by Artificial Eye. It’s a crowd-pleasing combo that gives a clue to why GFF continues to thrive.

There’s also space for directing greenhorns Dexter Fletcher, who brings his assured London-set pseudo-spaghetti western Wild Bill, and Markus Schleinzer with Michael, a disquieting examination of child abuse. In terms of revival cinema there’s a retrospectives of Gene Kelly’s career to mark what would have been the toe-tapping genius’s centenary year and a heaven-sent rerelease of Bertrand Tavernier’s exquisite, Glasgow-set science fiction Death Watch (1980). But this is only the meat and potatoes – around the main festival satellite some delicious trimmings. One hates to play favourites with these festivals within the festival, but the Short Film Festival has in the past provided some of GFF’s best moments, and this year’s looks equally electric.

What makes the shorts competition so satisfying is the attention that goes into its curation. Rather than screening films according to form – narrative films with narrative films, docs with docs, etc – a more ethereal approach is adopted that sees films working on shared wavelengths or exploring similar themes rubbing shoulders despite their differing genres or styles. Gems outside the competition include a programme of surreal animations from the archives of the celebrated International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. Talking of Glasgow’s music scene, the Music and Film Festival also has its fair share of delights.

And kicking off events this week is the GFF’s most novel element: Glasgow Youth Film Festival. Programmed entirely by young Glaswegians age sixteen to eighteen, it’s a unique experiment that pays dividend again this year with a sharp programme that blends family-friendly fare like sweet documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey and Japanese anime Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below with spikier coming-of-age films such as The Wise Kids, where three teens in a religious community in South Carolina contemplate their sexuality and faith, and Play, a Gothenburg-set drama in which a group of African immigrant boys clash with three white middle-class teens.

The 2012 Glasgow Film Festival runs from 14-24 February. For more info, please visit glasgowfilm.org.

Jamie Dunne