This is quite the year for the Glasgow Film Festival, as they have celebrated their highest ever attendance. Kicking off 2020 with more than 43,000 admissions, alongside 43,147 attending screenings and events across the city. Not only did the festival begin with a bang but it ended in style with the festival closes on International Women’s Day with a celebration of female filmmaking talent.
The 16th annual celebration of cinema finished in style on Sunday night with the UK premiere of How To Build A Girl, the big screen adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s blockbusting memoir directed by Coky Giedroyc. Caitlin and Coky attended the premiere, joining the likes of Simon Pegg, George Mackay, Earl Cave, Simon Bird, Monica Dolan, Emily Beecham, Imogen Poots, Celia Imrie, Bill Paterson, Alice Winocour and the cast of new Scottish smash-hit Our Ladies who all walked the Glasgow Film Festival red carpet over the past 12 days. International guests included Marjane Satrapi and Ingvar Sigurðsson.
Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the festivals big winner. The winner of the GFF 2020 Audience Award, was Arracht – Tom Sullivan’s immensely impressive Irish Gaelic thriller evoking the desperate times of the 1840’s Potato Famine. The Audience Award is the only prize handed out by GFF and is voted for by the film festival audiences.
Tom Sullivan, writer and director of Glasgow Film Festival 2020 Award winner Arracht, said:
“This was completely unexpected and I am honoured. I would like to, from the bottom of my heart, thank everyone at Glasgow Film Festival for believing in our film and all the people who came and voted. Arracht is a film set during the Great Hunger in Ireland. To win the audience award here, in Glasgow, a city that was so influenced by the fallout of that dark period in our history is truly humbling.
If you have not heard of Arracht then you need to watch it the plot is as follows:
Ireland, 1845 on the eve of The Great Hunger. Colmán Sharkey, a fisherman, a father, a husband, takes in a stranger at the behest of a local priest. Patsy, a former soldier in the Napoleonic wars arrives just ahead of ‘the blight,’ a disease that eventually wipes out the country’s potato crop, contributing to the death and displacement of millions. As the crops rot in the fields, Colmán, his brother and Patsy travel to the English Landlord’s house to request a stay on rent increases that Colmán predicts will destroy his community. His request falls on deaf ears and Patsy’s subsequent actions set Colmán on a path that will take him to the edge of survival, and sanity. It is only upon encountering an abandoned young girl that Colmán’s resolve is lifted. Just in time for the darkness of his past to pay another visit.
This is a particularly dark time in my islands history and one that shaped the entire world. In fact it is an event that 180 years later my home island still has not recovered from.
As always this festival has been a complete success and is quickly growing to become quite the powerhouse, one that could easily eclipse any of its more established counterparts.
Allan Hunter, Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director, said:
“We presented a programme with a diverse, wide-ranging spectrum of cinema experiences and audiences have responded magnificently. One of the joys of the Festival is to see the passion for films as diverse as Arracht, Les Miserables and Our Ladies and the warmth of the welcome for a guest list that included Alice Winocour, Celia Imrie, Simon Pegg and Ingvar Sigurðsson. Our audiences are a tonic and an inspiration.”
I look forward to seeing what they bring us next year. And if you want to go next year then book your time off from 24th Feb to the 7th March 2021.