Glasgow Film Festival: GFF Co-ordinator’s Top Picks Revealed

image from James Macleod

By Massimo Castelli

Presenting the public with some of the best films from around the globe, the 18th annual Glasgow Film Festival (GFF for short) will be in full swing between 2 and 13 March. The festival includes several European and British premieres including Alan Cumming in the incredible true story of the 30-something Scot who enrolled back into the classroom in My Old School; Stefan Forbes’ riveting New York true crime doc Hold Your Fire and Shin Su-won’s love letter to South Korean female film directors Hommage.

Among these publicised premiers, there are still films that undoubtedly deserve your attention. To make sure you do not miss some of the best films at the festival, GFF Co-director Allison Gardner has provided her top picks.

With that being said; Lights, Camera, Action!

Love, Life and Goldfish

Based on the manga series “Sukutte Goran” by Noriko Otani, Love, Life and Goldfish is a quirky Japanese film about love and loss, with several musical numbers.

The film is about Makoto Kashiba, a clerk for an elite bank in Tokyo, that due to a “small” mistake on his part, is demoted to a bank branch in the middle of nowhere. However, his fortune changes when he meets the beautiful Yoshino Ikoma, who runs a goldfish scooping store (yes apparently that is a thing). Makoto falls in love with her at first sight, leading to a musical romantic adventure, where love conquers all.

Initial impressions have been overwhelmingly positive from fans and critics who have seen previews at the Fantasia International Film Festival in August 2021. Praising its colourful stylings and tweaking of tired rom-com tropes as one of its best aspects, this is one to watch for fans of J-pop and romcoms, as it combines aspects of both to create a colourful masterpiece.

Baby Assassins

Another Japanese film here, however, it is a bit different from Love, Life and Goldfish. Baby Assassins goes in a different direction, telling the story of two high school students who have a secret… they are assassins.

Chisato and Mahiro are high schoolers leading a double life as highly skilled assassins for hire. Upon graduation, they’re informed by “upper management” that they need to hold down normal jobs to avert suspicion from their other activities. Worse than that, they have to share an apartment! But after one of them has an unfortunate run-in with a member of the Yakuza at their day job at a maid cafe, all bets are off, and the two must band together in an epic fight for their lives. 

By combining dark comedy and brutal action, director Hugo Sakamoto has created a unique action film experience for the audience, with Baby Assassins.

Once Upon A Time in Uganda

Part of GFF’s ‘African Stories’ block, Once Upon a time in Uganda is a documentary about the bizarre internet sensation of Wakaliwood and its humble origins. Although it could be considered a weird premise for a documentary, Once Upon a time in Uganda is a captivating watch, capturing the spirit of what it means to be famous on the internet and how it impacts creators.

Once Upon a time in Uganda chronicles the duo’s unlikely success as Isaac-a former brickmaker- decides to pick up a camera and start shooting his own ’80s inspired action flicks and Alan- a film nerd from New York- gives up his life in America to join forces with Isaac after seeing a trailer for one of his films online.

Against all odds, the two turn their dreams into a reality catapulting Wakaliwood to worldwide stardom with their unusual style of movies, capturing the attention of millions across the world.

This documentary is for those out there who are a fan of an underdog story and are looking for the true story behind the most recent ‘memeable’ images on the internet.

Casablanca Beats

Another one from ‘African Stories’, Casablanca Beats is the story of a former rapper, Anas, who takes on a job as a teacher at a cultural centre in a working-class neighbourhood in Casablanca. With a bunch of plucky young students under his wing, will the power of hip-hop be enough to free them from the religious traditions placed upon them?

Casablanca Beats has been highly praised for its upbeat and optimistic tone as well as a story that challenges ideas of religion and what it means to fight back against tradition.

The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw said, “It is all presented earnestly and engagingly, though self-consciously, and if the political debates are unsolved, well, that could be because they are unsolved in real life.

“It’s certainly a heartening demonstration that new ideas can flourish in a religious society.”

If you would like to find out more about the Glasgow Film Festival, tickets are available to book now. To check out the full list of films being shown by GFT, check out their website at the link below.

What’s on at Glasgow Film Festival | Glasgow Film Theatre