Glasgow Film Festival 2017

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Glasgow Film Festival 2017

The thirteenth annual Glasgow Film Festival will open on 15 February with the European premiere of coming-of-age story, Handsome Devil. Directed by John Butler (The Stag), the film stars Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Spectre) alongside rising stars Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine.

Heading up a cast of bright new talent is Fionn O’Shea as gawky, sixteen year-old Ned, a bright, artistic lad who faces his own hell on earth when he is sent to an all-boys Irish boarding school where the manly pursuit of rugby is virtually a religion. He steels himself for the loneliness, ridicule and constant insinuations about his sexuality. Everything changes with the arrival of his new roommate Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), a star player in the rugby team, and inspirational English teacher Dan Sherry (Sherlock and Spectre star Andrew Scott). Ned and Conor bond over a mutual appreciation of cool music and an unlikely friendship blossoms and faces unbearable pressures from a school grimly attached to its narrow macho values.

Eleven days later, the festival will close with the World Premiere of Mad To Be Normal, chronicling the astonishing life of world-renowned Scottish psychiatrist R. D Laing.



Featuring an all-star cast headed by David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) as Laing, alongside Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, High-Rise), Michael Gambon (The Hollow Crown; the Harry Potter series) and Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects; In Treatment), the film is directed by Robert Mullan (We Will Sing; Gitel).

There was no more charismatic or controversial a figure during the Swinging Sixties than Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing. Dubbed “the white Martin Luther King” and the “high priest of anti-psychiatry”, Laing was as famous as Dylan. In 1965, he established Kingsley Hall in East London as a medication-free community for those seriously affected by schizophrenia. His methods and theories flew in the face of a medical establishment who considered Laing a dangerous radical. Mad To Be Normal offers a powerful account of Laing’s Kingsley Hall experiment with a stunning performance from David Tennant that really gets under the skin of an utterly compelling figure. Tennant’s nuanced, complex work conveys a sense of Laing’s immense personal charm and the combination of intelligence and arrogance that made him revered and reviled. The film also captures the darker side of a mercurial man who rarely made it easy for those who dared to get close to him, especially his lover Angie (Elisabeth Moss).

Robert Mullan, David Tennant and other cast members to be announced will be in attendance at the Closing Gala on the 26 February.

As a tribute to the late intellectual and storyteller John Berger, the festival has also announced it will host the Scottish premiere of The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger (Friday 24 February, with an additional screening on Saturday 25 February). The result of a five-year project by Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth in collaboration with the composer Simon Fisher Turner, The Seasons in Quincy is comprised of four essay films, each taking different aspects of Berger’s life in the Haute-Savoie. Combining ideas and motifs from Berger’s own work with the atmosphere of his mountain home, each film exists as an individual work of art but combine to make a multifaceted and multilayered portrait of a great artist.

Handsome Devil

Handsome Devil

Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allison Gardner said: “I am so excited to share the news about our great Opening and Closing Galas. Handsome Devil is a real crowd-pleaser with a joyous spirit that makes it a perfect film to launch the festival. David Tennant gives an absolutely stunning performance as R.D. Laing in Mad To Be Normal and it seems only fitting that Glasgow should have the honour of hosting the premiere of a film about one of the citys most complex, charismatic figures. We are also privileged to be able to host the Scottish premiere of The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, a fascinating look at one of our greatest polymaths”.

Cllr. Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Glasgow Film Festival is a highlight on the city’s cultural calendar. The opening gala is always an exciting event, heralding the beginning of 11 packed days of film in the UK’s cinema city. It’s particularly great to see that a famous Glaswegian will be depicted on screen for this year’s closing gala film. I’ll look forward to seeing the full programme, which I’m sure will be equally inspiring and inventive, once revealed later this month.”

Tickets for the Opening and Closing Galas go on sale at 10am on Monday 9 January from glasgowfilm.org/festival.

The full programme for Glasgow Film Festival 2017 will be announced on the 18 January.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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