Category Archives: Features

10 things to see at Glasgow Film Festival 2019

Celebrating its 15th instalment, the Glasgow Film Festival runs this year between 20 February and 3 March, opening with the UK premiere of Jonah Hill’s directing debut, Mid90s. It later closes with another UK first: the premiere of Beats, an adaptation of Kieran Hurley’s award-winning play set in the Scottish rave scene of, well, the mid-90s.

Rest assured, the full festival programme isn’t solely aimed at Generation X and older millennials, though some 90s favourites are among those receiving pop-up screening treatment at creative venues; a 20th anniversary showing of The Blair Witch Project at a secret location sounds terrifying.

With more than 330 individual screenings, talks and events in between the opening and closing galas, choosing what to go to can be tricky. Here are 10 highlights from the stacked programme…

Full feature for the BFI

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A beginner’s guide to the films of Lee Chang-dong

A celebrated academic and novelist prior to his directing career, Lee Chang-dong came to filmmaking relatively late in life, making his first feature in his forties. What unites all of his films is their extensive portraits of characters often at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control, be they societal and historical developments in his native South Korea, debilitating illnesses, or some omnipresent force that seems out to get them. As evidenced in his brilliant latest, Burning, Lee is unafraid to confront the ugliness of human nature. To celebrate the film’s release, we’ve put together a handy primer of his previous directorial efforts…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Scotland Loves Anime 2018

Bar the occasional big screen outing for kids’ brands like the Teen Titans and My Little Pony, Hollywood has largely given up on releasing 2D feature animation in cinemas. And with the exception of recent European efforts like Ethel & Ernest, the best place for more traditional animation styles to thrive remains in the East, particularly in Japan. Anime on the big screen in Britain has become a big business thanks to successful limited runs via distributors Anime Limited and Manga UK, especially with 2016’s worldwide smash Your Name. The Scotland Loves Anime festival, returning for its ninth instalment at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, is the best place for the unfamiliar and hardcore enthusiasts alike to get their biggest and most diverse dose of the medium…

Full feature for The Skinny

Locarno Filmmakers Academy 2018: Meet Some of the World’s Most Exciting New Filmmakers

The annual Filmmakers Academy at the Locarno Festival in Switzerland selects some of the most promising talents in contemporary film from around the world, offering them vital networking opportunities, screenings at the festival for their existing short films, and masterclasses with a line-up of guest directors. This year’s talks from established filmmakers included musings from Bruno Dumont and festival jurors Jia Zhangke and Sean Baker.

During the festival, five participants spoke about their work to date, their aspirations, how the conditions for filmmaking in their home countries have informed their career progress so far, and what they expect to do next…

Full feature for IndieWire

The 10 best films from the 2018 Locarno Film Festival

As an indication of its ever-growing stature on the international film festival circuit, the current artistic director of Switzerland’s Locarno Festival for many years, Carlo Chatrian, has been snapped up to help programme the bigger Berlin Film Festival from 2020. As such, the 71st edition of Locarno seemed to have a bittersweet quality for the talkative festival veterans, as things might be very different next year. Even so, 2018 lived up to expectations of the event as an exciting space for new arthouse fare and as a celebration of older cinema that takes more offbeat choices in terms of paying tribute. We were particularly touched by the inspired choice to give the honorary Vision Award to title sequence designer Kyle Cooper (Se7en, among many credits), and not just because it gave programmers an excuse to screen Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film from a 35mm print.

Our personal highlight was the wealth of delights in the festival’s extensive retrospective of American filmmaker Leo McCarey, particularly a screening of The Awful Truth (1937) that had a packed audience in hysterics. That said, the new films on offer were hardly lacking in quality. In an unranked order, here are nine premiering feature highlights, plus one short. We should mention we were sadly unable to catch Mariano Llinás’ 14-hour La Flor, perhaps the most publicised title in competition this year…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Locarno 2018. Interfaces and Headspaces

The so-called ‘desktop movie,’ a film visually told predominantly or entirely through the setup of a computer screen, has had a couple of high-profile examples over the last few years. Among these are Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows (2014), Patrick Cederberg and Walter Woodman’s short Noah (2013), and, most notably in terms of mainstream success, Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended (2014). 2018 would seem to be a major year for the genre, if you can call it a genre just yet, with the wide release of sequel Unfriended: Dark Web, Timur Bekmambetov’s Profile playing festivals, and now the release, through Sony, of Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching. It is worth noting that Bekmambetov also produced the two of those 2018 titles he didn’t direct, so there’s at least one benefactor devoted to making the form catch on. With the exception of something like Kevin B. Lee’s essay film Transformers: The Premake(2014), the desktop movies that have gained critical or commercial traction have tended to stick to the mode of horror. Given that the Internet’s terrors seem endless, it’s an understandable creative instinct. Searching stands out, though, as it’s firmly in the mode of an investigative thriller: after his 16-year-old daughter disappears, a desperate father (John Cho) breaks into her laptop to find any clues he can in order to find her. At this year’s Locarno Festival, Searching played late at night to up to 8,000 attendees in the open-air cinema at the Piazza Grande. In the context of the festival as a whole, an interesting comparison to the film came in the form of an entry in the festival’s Signs of Life strand, devoted to experimental cinema…

Full feature for MUBI Notebook

A Touch of Sin, A Touch of Class

Alongside directing some of the most vital Chinese films of recent memory (including A Touch of SinThe WorldPlatformStill Life and many more), Jia Zhang-ke is also a teacher at a Shanghai film school. As such, the director was happy to take some time out of his schedule as the President of this year’s Concorso internazionale Jury to speak to this year’s Filmmakers Academy class at Locarno, alongside members of the Critics and Industry Academies…

Full feature for Locarno Daily