Chatting with friends recently about their plans for Glasgow’s annual Film Festival, I realised that I spend so much time immersed in and fielding emails about upcoming musical events in the city that I tend to miss out on everything else. Resolving to devote a little more time to other media I then promptly forgot about it – until an email from The Arches showed up in my inbox a week or so back.
While there’s plenty on for film lovers as part of the main festival – including today’s premiere of Cloud Atlas, partly filmed in the city – even more intriguing are this year’s mini “festival-within-a-festival” strands. Of particular interest? Glasgow Music and Film Festival. Obviously.
Co-curated by the team behind the main festival and The Arches, this long-running stand of the GFF features live performance, documentaries and a (sadly sold-out) Calamity Jane barn dance at the Grand Ole Opry. Screenings began on Friday, so if you didn’t know Jane Birkin was in town or there was going to be another chance to Cora Bissett’s multi-media masterpiece Whatever Gets You Through the Night I’m sorry. But there’s still plenty to get excited about before the curtain comes down on the festival next week, including the UK premiere of Good Vibrations, the story of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley. Hooley himself will be there to introduce the film, and will take part in a Q&A afterwards.
Some of my personal highlights from the programme are below, but you can check out full listings at the Glasgow Film & Music Festival website and Facebook page.
[I’m actually off out to the main film festival in a bit, for today’s 50 Years of Doctor Who programme at the GFT, before getting to see one of my best friends rock the city’s famous King Tut’s stage for the first time. Today – which is also the 30th anniversary of the appearance of my best girl on this fine earth – is going to be a good one. As a birthday present, you should read the bezzer’s take on Dolly Parton for The Girls Are, ahead of the national tour of 9 to 5 The Musical this July.]
Monday 18–Tuesday 19 February, times vary [info/tickets]
Relive your teenage kicks with the touching and hilarious story of how record shop owner Terri Hooley, against a backdrop of sectarian violence and political upheaval, bridged the divide between Catholic and Protestant and brought the youth of Belfast together in their shared love of punk. This is a dramatized version of events surrounding the beginnings of the Good Vibrations record label which helped launch the career of The Undertones, Rudi and many other Northern punk bands at the height of the Troubles – offering a glimmer of unity and hope in a time of warfare. Featuring a warmhearted portrayal of Hooley by Richard Dormer, this is a glowing tribute to a remarkable man and a striking testament to the transportive power of music.
Nevada with live performance by Lau
Tuesday 19th February, 7:30pm [info/tickets]
Nevada is the psychological portrait of two lovers who have grown to hate one another; who are well beyond breaking point and must separate. Drawing inspiration from aspects of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller’s fated marriage as a springboard for content and style, Nevada is an experimental study about a failed relationship. An expressionistic mood piece with a non-linear narrative spine, the film explores powerful themes of loathing, performance, rescue and loss.
The film was made in response to music from the recently released album by Lau, a multiple award-winning folk trio. Now well-known across the world as a tour-de-force of virtuosic musicianship, the band will accompany the film live and play a short concert of around 45 minutes following the screening.
In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey
Tuesday 19th February, 8:00pm [info/tickets]
The unique, guitar finger-picking sound of John Fahey influenced a range of musicians – from Pete Townshend (who calls him the folk equivalent of William Burroughs or Charles Bukowski) to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Chris Funk of The Decemberists. This documentary recounts the dynamic life of the eccentric guitarist, who transcended blues traditions, melding them with both world and classical forms. Featuring talking heads along with archive footage of performances and interviews, this film creates a vivid portrait of a true guitar pioneer.
Following the screening will be a short solo set from folk guitarist Alasdair Roberts.
Director James Cullingham will introduce and participate in a Q&A after the screening.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Thursday 21st February, 5pm [info/tickets] and Sunday 24 February, 8pm (festival Closing Gala) [info/tickets]
It is hard to imagine a world without Big Star, the seminal power pop act whose intense guitar-driven pop songs influenced generations of musicians, from REM and The Flaming Lips to Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub. Despite never receiving the commercial attention they deserved in their initial 1970s incarnation, Big Star’s music proved so vital that it granted the band a resurgence decades later. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me charts the origins of rock’s most enduring cult phenomenon, combining never-before-seen footage, exclusive interviews and a musical tribute to the Memphis musicians.
The Secret Disco Revolution
Friday 22–Saturday 23 February, times vary [info/tickets]
Decades removed from the hedonism, the sex and drugs, and of course the dancing, this spirited documentary tells the hidden story of disco and how it wasn’t simply a shortlived musical fad but a beacon of change and hope for the gay and black communities and minority groups throughout North America in the 1970s. Unafraid to play it a little tongue-in-cheek when necessary, this toe-tapping and revealing film features interviews with leading lights of the time, from Gloria Gaynor to The Village People, as well as contemporary cultural experts.
Greetings From Tim Buckley
Saturday 23–Sunday 24 February, times vary [info/tickets]
Penn Badgley gives a star-making performance as the young Jeff Buckley in a freewheeling drama inspired by true events. In 1991, Jeff is preparing to perform at a tribute concert for his late father Tim. He struggles to come to terms with his feelings for a father who abandoned him and his mother just before he found success as a singersongwriter. The entry into his father’s world is made all the more challenging by his novice status as a musician. A romance with Allie (Imogen Poots) blossoms as he faces up to the legacy of the Buckley name and starts to find his own way as a cult star.