By Rachel Cronin
After last year’s first ever hybrid at-home/ in-cinema festival, GFF is back with a bang! This past year we’ve seen just how important our cultural spaces are, especially after the closure of the adored Edinburgh Film House. But (thank goodness) Glasgow Film Festival has remained afloat to fill the great big cultural void left in our hearts. The 19th annual GFF will run from 1 to 12 March, showcasing old favourites, new releases and free screenings. But before you get booking, here’s a sneak peak at what we’re in for this year.
Country Focus: Viva el cine español!
This year’s country focus will centre the newest generation of Spanish filmmakers who have been taking the world of cinema by storm in recent years. A carefully curated collection of premieres will see that GFF23 sheds a light onto the struggles of modern Spain. Dealing with the fallout of the Franco years and navigating the struggles of everyday life, 2023’s country focus is guaranteed to be a goodyin.
Titles screening include 2022’s heart-breaking Spanish/Belgian thriller On The Fringe with Penélope Cruz and Luis Tosar. Also featured will be gripping true Prison Break- style story Prison 77 and Lullaby, a film championed by internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar as ‘undoubtedly the best debut in Spanish cinema for years’.
Looking for America: The Films of Lee Grant
2023’s programme will also include a well-deserved celebration of the ground-breaking documentary work by Lee Grant, an extraordinary actor/director. A victim of the anti-Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s, she was blacklisted for 12 years as her husband was a reported communist. After surviving the blacklist, she returned to star in a string of iconic films including In the Heat of the Night, Valley of the Dolls, The Landlord and Shampoo, for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
In the 80s, this resilient filmmaker began directing documentaries that were decades ahead of their time. She combined curiosity and compassion to shed light on undiscussed social issues such as the inequalities facing women and the state of the US during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. Down And Out In America won the Oscar for Best Documentary, and Grant was also the first female director to win the Directors Guild Of America Award.
GFF23 will screen five of her documentaries: Battered, Down and Out in America, What Sex Am I?, When Women Kill and The Willmar 8.
In The Driving Seat
As the ‘film festival for audiences’, one of GFF’s greatest strengths has always been its accessibility. This year’s free retrospective will feature stories of women on journeys of self-discovery. Films include It Happened One Night (1934)– the first of only three films (along with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs) to win all five major Academy Awards. ‘In The Driving Seat’ will also feature Jane Campion’s trailblazing period piece The Piano (1993) and classic romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953), starring Audrey Hepburn. These iconic titles make up 3 of 10 completely free screenings over the course of the festival.
So, whether you prefer a 1930’s classic, 90’s period drama or modern Spanish thriller, there’s more than something for everyone this GFF.
Visit glasgowfilm.org/festival for more information on GFF23’s programme, available 25 January.