Festival is a movie feast

NOW in its 10th year, the overwhelming success of Glasgow Film Festival brings a rather unusual problem to co-director Allison Gardner.

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Allison Gardner says Glasgow is  a big draw  for guests to the festival
Allison Gardner says Glasgow is a big draw for guests to the festival

How to give film fans the opportunity to watch more movies without the event growing too big?

"We need to keep that momentum going, we need people to love the festival," she says passionately.

"I want people to see more but to have 10,000 people come for one film wouldn't really work for me."

Her solution? Take a film festival holiday and cram in as many movies as you like over the 10 days.

"At the moment some people will see about 42 films," she explains.

"And that's what I do at a film festival. So I want you to be like a festival director and you can do that in Glasgow.

"You can't go to Cannes or Berlin or Venice but you can come to Glasgow and see all those films."

Much loved by film makers and actors as well as cinema goers, the Glasgow Film Festival now attracts abut 40,000 people.

This year they saw 68 UK premieres and had the chance to get up close and personal with film talent ranging from actors and director Jason Priestley, Richard Dreyfuss to Richard Ayoade and legendary filmmaker George Sluizer.

"George gave a great Q&A, he was so rude about people," laughs Allison, aping the accent of the Dark Blood director.

"It was really juicy stuff. That is sometimes what you want, that insider stuff and that's what you get with the festival."

The former usher and general manager at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh says the guests who come to Glasgow every year for the festival are the icing on the cake.

"We've had Quentin Tarantino here twice and memorably said: 'I f****** love this place'," she remembers.

"He was here for Reservoir Dogs: we supported the film in the beginning because it was an indie film, not mainstream in any shape or form.

"He loved it here and asked to come back when he was in the UK promoting Grindhouse.

"It's not particularly a big problem to get them here. Glasgow itself is a draw.

"Especially for those smaller films that we really love, those directors are prepared to travel and they are, not more interesting, but they are certainly as interesting as the other bigger guests that we've had."

The idea to host the festival at GFT was borne over a glass of wine or two around the kitchen table of GFT chief executive Jaki McDougall.

In a collaboration with Glasgow City Council, it went on to invest in the infrastructure of GFT and involved the CCA and Cineworld.

GFT head of cinemas Allison co-directs the event, held in February, with Allan Hunter.

As it has blossomed over the years, audiences have watched films in a range of inventive venues, from The Descent in a subterranean experience under Central Station to eating street food while watching While Harry Met Sally at the Briggait.

"Our ethos is to use our city because Glasgow is very roots up in terms of its visual arts scene and music," says Allison.

"We work with other partners because these are all jewels in Glasgow's crown that we want to share with everyone.

"It is really important that there are other voices in the festival, that we show our strengths."

Perfect for grazers and big appetites alike, Glasgow Film Festival is akin to a massive buffet of the choicest cuts.

The food analogy might seem a strange way to describe the successful event that attracts ever-increasing record numbers of film fans. It is perfectly apt, according to Allison.

"Some things might not be for you but we trust you as the audience: you're smart, you're not stupid, you know what it is you want. all we've doing is giving you a cornucopia of stuff to choose from," she says.

SHE continues: "Festival audiences are very attuned, they know their stuff, they never let me down in terms of smart questions to directors.

"In fact all the directors say they have never been asked such smart questions as they have here at the GFF."

One of the more inventive ways of squeezing more people into the festival without diluting the effects is by harnessing the power of the curated player facility.

This year some of the festival films were available on the same day on the player.

"We understand that not everyone can get to the festival and don't feel it cannibalises our audience, it's a really important fourth dimension," says Allison.

Giving young people more access to the film world is another big move for the festival.

The pop-up programmers are a group of young people from socioeconomically deprived areas who were mentored this year to make their own cinemas within their own communities and hosted events at the festival.

Meanwhile the Youth Film Festival, that runs in tandem with Glasgow Film Festival, continues to grow.

"These are the building blocks for the future," says Allison.

"The way forward is for us to impassion young people, to make sure they have access to a huge range of different films.

"They want to be involved and we need an avenue to let them see what it's like in the film world. "Who know, maybe they'll become filmmakers?"

angela.mcmanus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment

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