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Fri 23 Feb, GFT, 8.45pm | Sat 24 Feb, GFT, 1pm

Blunt Force Trauma Lynne Ramsay is back with crime thriller You Were Never Really Here. The Scottish director tells us about channeling genre movies, collaborating with Jonny Greenwood and getting a performance from Joaquin Phoenix that’s both brutal and tender


ynne Ramsay is four for four. Almost 20 years into her feature film career, she has made only a quartet of films, but none of them are anything less than excellent, and at her best she’s one of the most thrilling, penetrating stylists working in British film today. One can think of her pictures as a kind of

‘minimalist maximalism’ – little dialogue, but intense close-ups on characters’ faces that reverberate more than words. Her films are never very long, but their individual sequences are drawn out, with stark soundscapes and hallucinatory plays of light and darkness. If Ratcatcher (1999) and Morvern Callar (2002) were character studies and art films closer to a social realist mode, her third movie, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), and her new film, You Were Never Really Here, scratch the itches of character study and art film while bringing the exploitation thriller into the mix. Kevin, based on the novel by Lionel Shriver, spoke as much to the parents’-worst-nightmare potboiler tradition of The Good Son and The Omen as it did to

Interview: Ian Mantgani deep human insight about a woman questioning her maternal instincts. In the new one, based on a novella by Jonathan Ames, Joaquin Phoenix plays Joe, living with PTSD from both war and childhood trauma, cutting through the fog of his suffering via employment as a soldier of fortune. Joe’s weapon of choice is a hammer. He’s hired by a New York politician to rescue his daughter from a child sex ring, and from there, a brutal odyssey into more fog begins. Some critics have compared You Were Never Really Here to hard-boiled avenging angel movies like Taxi Driver, Point Blank and Drive; we found it hard not to think of William Devane in Rolling Thunder, Paul continues…

>> Walker in Running Scared and Gena Rowlands in Gloria. Ramsay has previously talked about her admiration for Sam Fuller, and how he used genres to explore ideas beyond the B-movie material. How does she feel about working in this realm? “I love films like The Shining, which seems like a straight horror film, but it’s really about a man going mad,” she says. “And I think within the construct of a genre, you can tell an exciting story but also go deep into the psychology of things.” What gives the film its Ramsay touch however, is less its genre conventions than its sensory expression. “The way it was made and the whole spirit of it had a kind of electricity,” says the 48-year-old filmmaker. “And it was so fast.” Shooting in the heat, sweat and grime of New York City also fired Ramsay’s imagination. “I was living on a small island in Greece when I was writing this, with no cars, so to go to New York, I was overwhelmed. I felt overwhelmed by the sound of New York after being in that environment, how it makes you feel like you’re going insane. The city sounded like bombs dropping, fireworks cracking, and I said to Joaquin, this is what you’re hearing in your head every day.” You Were Never Really Here is a brutal film, but it’s also a vulnerable one. Phoenix’s character is tough and expert, but he can’t win every battle. “Joaquin and I came at it thinking, ‘Let’s break every cliché

you’d normally see,’” says Ramsay. “It’s based on a novella that’s a really gripping page-turner, but the best thing about it for me was the character, because the character’s so flawed. You have this guy who can’t even save himself. He’s suicidal, he lives with his mum – I don’t want to give too much away about the movie, but it was such a flawed character that couldn’t solve the world in a way. It’s not the guy coming in with the six-pack who is invincible – it’s anything but.“ Not only is the hero’s journey unpredictable, it gets to a point where we’re not even sure if it’s literal. After seeing the film once, you may feel the need to see it again right away. “I went really surreal with the end. The more he was kind of spiralling into madness, the more I could play with it. You think you’re going towards somewhere where you get the obvious conclusion, the big showdown at the end, and you don’t get the pleasure of that – he tips over the edge.” Surprises should even be in store for those who’ve already read the Jonathan Ames novella. “Jon’s quite a cool guy, so he knew I was going on my own journey with the story and it was quite different.” For the movie to get completed in time required a lot of effort from the dream team cast and crew, a lot of whom came to visit Ramsay early to make sure they were ready in time. “It was a sort of trial by fire way of making films, but it had the right elements,” recalls

Ramsay. “Even the director of photography, Thomas Townend, he’d come to Santorini when I was writing this, and we’d done quite a lot of prep. We knew the film inside out, and I think that was the reason we were able to do it so fast. The same with the sound design, and the same with Jonny Greenwood’s involvement. It was like a band, the way it clicks.” This is Ramsay’s second collaboration with the Radiohead guitarist, following his score for We Need to Talk About Kevin. “Jonny’s amazing, and a very modest man as well. I was showing him five minutes, then ten minutes, then 15, he didn’t know what was going to happen next. He knew the script, but lots of things had changed, and I think it made it quite exciting.” And what now? Ramsay isn’t making films at a prolific rate, so we ask if that’s by design or happenstance. “It’s funny with directors – I’ve had ideas that have been in gestation for ages. I don’t feel frustrated because there’s something I can’t get off the ground, there are just things that haven’t quite pieced together yet. For me, all I want to do is be in a room thinking about ideas, being in my study thinking. I’m dying for that quiet time. To get back to working on lots of things I’ve been thinking of.” Ramsay hasn’t let us down yet, and You Were Never Really Here gives us much to puzzle over and debate until next time.


Bill’s Best Bits Bill Pullman comes to GFF this year with flinty western The Ballad of Lefty Brown and will give an extended Q&A at the festival. Ahead of his Glasgow visit, we count down his finest five performances Weird Pullman: Zero Effect This sorely underrated 1998 comedy sees Pullman at his most manic. He plays Daryl Zero, a socially inept but brilliant private investigator who’s hired by a business tycoon (Ryan O’ Neal) to discover who’s been blackmailing him. It’s basically a modern riff on Sherlock Holmes, with Ben Stiller playing it straight as Zero’s frustrated Watson-esque sidekick. We’re betting Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are fans, but Pullman’s genius investigator is a far more compelling figure than Cumberbatch’s asshole take on the great detective. We doubt Pullman ever had more fun on screen. Scary Pullman: Lost Highway David Lynch’s 1997 film is one of his most confounding puzzles, but it’s also

impossible to forget. Pullman dominates the first half of the movie as a worryingly intense jazz saxophonist who makes music like he makes love: menacingly. He may also have carved up his femme fatale wife (Patricia Arquette) in a fit of jealousy. We never actually find out as he inexplicably transforms into Balthazar Getty’s teenage garage mechanic halfway through the movie, but by then Pullman has left an impression. Sleazy Pullman: The Last Seduction Poor Bill has rings run around him by Linda Fiorentino in this wonderful neo-noir. He plays a sleazy trainee doctor whose main interest in the profession seems to be the easy access to narcotics; she plays his deliciously ruthless wife. After convincing Pullman

to take part in a dangerous drug deal, Fiorentino absconds to the sticks with the cash and finds herself a hunky young boyfriend, leaving Pullman and his thumbs at the mercy of some vicious loan sharks. Despite being completely done over, you don’t sympathize with him for a second. Silly Pullman: Spaceballs As Captain Lone Starr, Pullman has the unenviable task of combining puppy dog Luke Skywalker and rogue flyboy Han Solo in this hugely likable Star Wars spoof from Mel Brooks. It hits most of its parodic targets and Pullman has wonderful comic chemistry with John Candy as his half-man, half-dog Chewbacca standin. For what it’s worth, Pullman is pretty great at this derring-do nonsense. Maybe

in another galaxy far, far away he’d have made a winning action hero. Presidential Pullman: Independence Day Talking of Pullman the action hero, the closest he got is in this gloriously daft Roland Emmerich flick that combines the paranoid alien-invasion thriller with the huge ensemble disaster movie. As cheesy as this sci-fi spectacle is, we defy anyone not to get a lump in their throat when Pullman’s commander-in-chief rallies the troops before the climactic dogfight with the alien invaders. It’s the high watermark that all movie Presidents since have had to aim for; shame about the IRL US Presidents though. The Ballad of Lefty Brown: Thu 22 Feb, GFT, 8.15pm Bill Pullman in Person: Fri 23 Feb, GFT, 1.15pm

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Lupino and Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra

Breaking Glass Ceilings


hen Glasgow Film Festival initially mooted an Ida Lupino retrospective for this year’s edition, it was to mark her centenary – she was born in London 100 years ago this month. It’s as fine a reason as any to mount a reappraisal of an important but still underappreciated artist. But over the last few months the choice of Lupino has started to feel essential. In this moment of #MeToo, #TimesUp and the continued gender pay gap outrage in the movie business, the opportunity to revisit the work of one of cinema’s pioneering female filmmakers couldn’t feel more vital. Lupino is a familiar face to any fan of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Her career began at age 13 and by 15 she was on contract with Paramount, although she quickly tired of her roles there. “She got stuck playing ingénues,” explains GFF co-director Allan Hunter, who programmed the retrospective. “She told Paramount, ‘I don’t want to be a glamour girl’, and walked out on a pretty lucrative contract so that she could get better parts.” It was a daring move in a career that would be defined by bold manoeuvres, but it paid off. In the 40s she began to specialise in tough, hard-boiled broads, and her fierce performances in films like Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps and Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra (which screens at GFF) are well remembered. But it’s as a director that Lupino really broke ground. She spoke about her ambition to work behind the camera in 1945, two years after Dorothy Arzner, the only

female director working in Hollywood, had retired. “I see myself, in the years ahead, directing or producing or both,” said Lupino. “I see myself developing new talent, which would be furiously interesting for me. I’m more genuinely interested in the talent of others than I am in my own.” Just four years later she wrote and produced Not Wanted, a low-budget melodrama dealing with the spiky subjects of teen sex and unwanted pregnancy. The film also proved to be her baptism of fire as a director when the film’s credited helmer, silent-era veteran Elmer Clifton, suffered a heart attack days before shooting was to begin. Lupino pulled up her shirt sleeves and took over the picture, and the result, according to vociferous Lupino champion Richard Brody of The New Yorker, was a “startling blend of compassion and invention.” Not Wanted was the first film of fledgling independent production house The Filmakers [sic], set up by Lupino and her producer husband Collier Young. They would produce seven other pictures by 1953, and Lupino would direct five of them. As a director, Lupino’s style is both terse and expressionistic, performance-orientated but also cinematic. And all her films tackle thorny subjects. Her first feature credited as director, Never Fear, told the story of a dancer crippled by polio, inspired by her own battle with the then devastating disease. Her masterpiece might be Outrage, a profoundly moving study of rape culture in 50s America. It was deeply controversial on its release, with Variety claiming Lupido had taken on “one topic which would better have been left unfilmed.” Watched today, it’s still powerful. The rape scene is elided (the word itself is never uttered, instead the assault is euphemistically described throughout as an “attack”), but it’s preceded by a gut-wrenching chase through

an abandoned warehouse district. Free from dialogue, Lupino uses discombobulating shifts in point of view and oblique camera angles to create a five minute sequence of pure panic and menace. Similarly well-crafted was The Hitch-Hiker, a sinewy thriller based on a pulled-from-the-headlines story of two average Joes who get carjacked on a trip to Mexico by a serial killer with a sadistic temper. At 71 minutes, it’s a fat-free nailbiter. Lupino’s final film with The Filmakers was the excellent The Bigamist, a surprisingly sympathetic study following Edmond O’Brien’s sad-sack salesman who finds himself in two marriages thanks to crippling loneliness. Lupino herself plays one of the wives, making this another landmark: the first woman to direct herself in a major American feature. If we haven’t made it abundantly clear, Lupino was an all-round talent. She was writing the films, co-producing, directing, and in the case of The Bigamist acting too. Beyond the mad genius of Orson Welles, who else was doing that in 50s Hollywood? Hunter sums up the hypocrisy: “If Warren Beatty does that it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Lupino was doing that 20, 30 years earlier, and people don’t seem to give her the same degree of credit.” Unlike Beatty, Lupino never went in for selfaggrandising. “She would often say that in acting she was a poor man’s Bette Davis and in directing she turned out to be a poor man’s Don Segal,” Hunter notes. With this GFF retrospective, it’s your chance to shout her name from the rooftops. The Bigamist: Fri 2 Mar, GFT, 1pm High Sierra: Mon 26 Feb, GFT, 1pm The Hitch-Hiker: Thu 1 Mar, GFT, 1pm Moontide: Thu 27 Feb, GFT, 1.15pm Outrage: Web 28 Feb, GFT, 1pm

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Illustration: Raj Dhunna

Ida Lupino was one of the first women directors in American cinema, but her achievements continue to be overlooked. As her centenary year coincides with a seismic shift in Hollywood gender dynamics, it’s the perfect time to celebrate her talent

Words: Jamie Dunn

Heads Up: Films of the Day Compiled by: Jamie Dunn

THU 22 FEB Isle of Dogs


Isle of Dogs | GFT, 6pm (also 22 Feb, 3.25pm) The world’s most fastidious director, Wes Anderson, switches his dolls’ house aesthetic for literal dolls with this return to stop motion that should delight everyone who loved his melancholic adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. This animated adventure, set in a futuristic Japan, follows a young boy and a band of shaggy canines voiced by the likes of Ed Norton, Bill Murray and Bryan Cranston.




The Breadwinner GFT, 6.15pm (also 24 Feb, GFT, 1.15pm) Runners-up: Thoroughbreds, Cineworld, 8.45pm; Prayer Before the Dawn, GFT, 6pm The Secret of Kells director Nora Twomey is back with a much darker prospect: the story of an 11-year-old girl who has to cut off her hair and pretends to be a boy to navigate life under Taliban rule in 2011 Afghanistan after her father is wrongfully arrested. Like Twomey’s earlier Celtic fairytale, the animation here looks spellbinding.

Let the Sunshine In | GFT, 6pm (also 26 Feb, GFT, 3.45pm) Runners-up: The Party’s Just Beginning, GFT, 8.30pm; Beast, GFT, 5.30pm Claire Denis continues to be one of the most mercurial filmmakers working today, easily moving from existential thriller, to vampiric horror, to tender family drama; her next project is a sci-fi movie starring Robert Pattinson. She’s ticking another genre off the list with Let the Sunshine In, a sophisticated romantic comedy with Juliette Binoche as a woman enjoying her single life. As you’d expect, Denis breaks every rule in the rom-com playbook.

Faces Places


Faces Places | Cineworld, 6.15pm (also 26 Feb, Cineworld, 1pm) Runners-up: Zama, GFT, 8.30pm; A Fantastic Woman, GFT, 8.40pm Octogenarian filmmaking treasure Agnès Varda takes to the road with a hipster doofus (photographer and muralist JR) for a sublime celebration of people and their faces. As ever, Varda finds the awe-inspiring in the quotidian. Through her humanist lens and JR’s colossal murals, everyday people (factory workers, dockers’ wives, defiant miners) become iconic. The style is breezy, but proves surprisingly moving by its knockout ending.

Wonderstruck | GFT, 5.45pm (also, 23 Feb, 3.15pm) Runners-up: Columbus, GFT, 3.35pm; Western, GFT, 1.15pm Todd Haynes returns with another vivid piece of filmmaking. Based on a novel by Brian Selznick, it dovetails the stories of two 12-year-olds living 50 years apart. One section (in black and white and silent) follows a young deaf girl in the 20s, and the other follows a boy in the 70s. The brilliant cast includes Michelle Williams and Haynes regular Julianne Moore. The title is an apt one, prepare to be awed.

Let the Sunshine In


MON 26 FEB 120 BPM | GFT, 7.45pm (also 27 Feb, GFT, 1pm) Runners-up: Foxtrot, Cineworld, 8.45pm; Sweet Country, Cineworld, 6.15pm Robin Campillo’s blistering third feature centres on the people at the heart of the ACT UP advocacy group in 1990s Paris. As well as battling homophobia and the French government’s apathetic attitude to the AIDS epidemic, Campillo’s smart and sexy film also finds time to follow the romantic entanglements of the men involved in the movement


Custody | GFT, 8.40pm (also 28 Feb, GFT, 3.50pm) Runners-up: In the Fade, GFT, 8,30pm; Filmworker, CCA, 6pm This first-rate drama from debut director Xavier Legrand centred on the bitter custody battle between estranged spouses that manages the rare trick of being queasily realistic while also building in tension like the best Hollywood thrillers. Legrand takes his time in revealing with which parent our allegiances should lie, telling most of the story from the point-of-view of the ex-couple’s 12-year-old son, who looks shell-shocked every time he trundles off for weekends with dad. You’re likely to have a similar expression by the end of this nailbiter.

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WED 28 FEB Surprise Film | GFT, 8.40pm Runners-up: How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Cineworld, 8.30pm; Apostasy, Cineworld, 6.15pm Guessing what might be the surprise film at GFF is a mug’s game, but we try every year anyway. What makes it so difficult is how wildly eclectic the choices have been in the past. Last year it was a majestic true-life adventure story (The City of Lost Z) while the year before it was a zesty Jane Austen adaptation (Love & Friendship) and before that a Ryan Reynolds horror-comedy (The Voices). Heck, GFF even had the cojones to spring David Lynch’s dizzying Hollywood fever dream Inland Empire on audiences back in the day. It’s anyone’s guess, but the thrill of walking into a movie knowing nothing beforehand makes it worth the gamble.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories | GFT, 9pm Runners-up: Revenge, GFT, 11pm; Pity, GFT, 6.30pm Based on the scary stage show of the same name from the twisted minds of Jeremy Dyson (co-creator of The League Of Gentlemen) and Andy Nyman, this is an anthology of haunting shorts in the classic tradition of films like Asylum and Dead of Night. The collection of tales features the likes of Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse as well as Nyman himself, who’ll be in attendance with Dyson for the FrightFest screening.

FRI 2 MAR Love, Simon | Cineworld, 8.45pm (also 3 Mar, Cineworld, 6pm) Runners-up: Cold Skin, GFT, 8.45pm; Nico, 1988, GFT, 8.30pm LGBTQI cinema is going through an extended purple patch right now, and it seems indie hits like Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name and Carol could be pushing queer stories into the mainstream. For evidence, see this sweet-looking teen drama based on a cult YA novel about a not-yet-out gay kid who’s got a Shop Around the Corner thing going with another closeted boy at his high school.

Love, Simon



Super November | GFT, 8.45pm (also 4 Mar, GFT, 1pm) Runners-up: The Third Murder, Cineworld, 8.30pm; Liquid Truth, GFT, 6pm Josie Long’s love affair with Glasgow continues with this romantic comedy-cumOrwellian dystopia in which a blossoming romance is interrupted by a right-wing coup. The two shorts Long made with Douglas King – Let’s Go Swimming and Romance and Adventure – were delightful, so we’ve high hopes for their new ambitious-sounding feature.

Orphans | GFT, 4pm Runners-up: Nae Pasaran, GFT, 6.45pm; Dog Day Afternoon, GFT 10.30pm One of the greatest and most underappreciated Scottish movies ever made, Peter Mullan’s wildly expressionistic and absurdly comic drama follows four siblings as they each experience a dark night of the soul on the streets of Glasgow on the eve of their mother’s funeral. This 20th anniversary revival will hopefully see Mullan reunite on the GFT stage with some of Orphans’ brilliant cast.

Super November

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Mother’s Grimm

Mon 26 Feb, GFT, 6pm Tue 27 Feb, GFT, 4pm

In her bruising coming-of-age film Pin Cushion, first time filmmaker Deborah Haywood explores teen angst and dark thoughts using a dreamy fairytale aesthetic fairytale,” wrote Angela Carter, “is the kind of story in which one king goes to another to borrow a cup of sugar.” Neighbours, fantasy, story-telling and a sickening sweetness: these are the themes of Deborah Haywood’s debut feature Pin Cushion. Set in what could be any small rural town in England, the film is about a mother, Lyn (Joanna Scanlan), and her daughter, Iona (Lily Newmark in her big-screen debut), moving into a tightknit community. Their relationship is one of co-dependence: they share a bedroom, fawn over each other, and innocently kiss on the mouth. As Lyn and Iona attempt to socialise with their neighbours, they are pulled further and further apart from one another and from the world of fantasy, innocence and comfort they had created within their fairytale house. Pin Cushion is a difficult film to pin down. It could be described as Lyn and Iona’s bildungsroman, where both mother and daughter come of age as they begin to interact with the outside world. But Haywood

doesn’t describe Pin Cushion in these terms. Ahead of the film’s UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival, Haywood tells us she thinks of it more as a “drama with heightened genre elements.” The film is esoteric and self-aware with regards to these genre touchstones. Carrie was a direct influence, and there are nods to Heavenly Creatures and The Virgin Suicides in Pin Cushion’s pale yet bright colour palette of pinks and creams and in cinematographer Nicola Daley’s meandering camerawork. “I knew I wanted the strong colours and it to look almost like a fairytale or a children’s book that’s saturated with colours,” Haywood explains. “And I wanted the characters to be almost fairytale or larger than life.” This strong visual aesthetic grew from Haywood’s desire to make a heightened piece of cinema, one that would “be more palatable than a social realism film. It wouldn’t be as enjoyable to be in that world. But I think by doing it more like a fairytale, hopefully you can be in on knowing you’re being told a story.”

Pin Cushion’s moments of fantasy allow us to see inside our teen protagonist’s psyche. In hazy, dreamlike sequences, we see Iona becoming the queen bee of the school, popular and loved by the girls who have been bullying her and the boy she fancies. We also see her fantasy mother, a willowy and beautiful Nadine Coyle (of Girls Aloud fame). “What I enjoy about novels is that you can get into people’s heads and you can know what they’re thinking but you don’t really do that in cinema – we watch them,” notes Haywood. “So I wanted to find a way to be in Iona’s thoughts, so we can connect and understand her more. But also because when I was bullied as a child, I used to go into fantasy as a coping mechanism and imagine bizarre things, like huge pairs of scissors chopping the bullies up or I’d be really popular and friends with them.” A strong connection between fantasy and desire pervades the film. Iona’s desire for a ‘normal’, glossy home life manifests in fantasy mothers and best continues…

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Illustration: Raj Dhunna


Interview: Katie Goh

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>> friends. Fantasy and desire are also intertwined in how Iona experiences her developing body and explores her sexuality for the first time. When she masturbates and has her first orgasm, the camera blurs, as if entering a dream. Like in The Virgin Suicides, Pin Cushion’s muted tones and the dreamy visual haze is a depiction of the female gaze; we see how Iona’s desire feels to her. Speaking about representing teenage femininity, Haywood says: “I think when you’re at that age you become quite tribal. Everyone’s got the same lipstick and everyone’s got to behave the same way and I think you can get trapped in that role even if it’s not your natural state. [Femininity] become masks for everyone.” The school’s queen bee and Iona’s chief bully is Keeley (Sacha Cordy-Nice). There’s a moment in the film when Haywood allows Keeley’s mask of performative femininity to slip. “With Keeley I wanted to look behind who the bully is. She’s probably scared but she has to be this person to survive as well. Taking those masks off in a different situation, she’d probably be a different girl. But she’s having to play her part and uses make-up as a kind of shield and protection.”

There are clear elements of Haywood’s life in Pin Cushion. The bullying and Iona’s expeditions into fantasy are rooted in Haywood’s experiences. “When I was 12, I was really promiscuous and got really badly bullied for it. I don’t know whether it’s the same for you but around our way they used to say if a girl’s got a reputation for having a lot of sex, they’d say ‘She takes more pricks than a pin cushion.’”

“I wanted the characters to be almost fairytale or larger than life.” Deborah Haywood While Haywood speaks openly about Pin Cushion’s biographical aspects, she says it’s more “emotionally autobiographical,” than autobiographical in detail. “There’s nothing in the film that actually happened

in my life apart from a scene when a schoolboy asks Iona how many fingers she can take. Somebody in my class asked a boy how many fingers his girlfriend could take and he lifted up six fingers. But that’s the only biographical thing.” The tendency for critics to call films made by female writer-directors biographical is a gendered cultural problem. Female artists are continually dismissed as transplanting their lives and putting it into their art. For a recent example, look to Greta Gerwig. Her comedy-drama Lady Bird has continually been called a biographical film despite Gerwig’s repeated insistence that nothing from the film happened to her. Speaking about these gendered double standards, Haywood says, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having biographical inspiration because it turns into so much more anyway and into something completely different, but I think it’s patronising to say a segment of your life can happen in a film-like way or that female filmmakers can’t make up their own stuff. No one’s life happens like a biography because it’d be far too long and, well, really very boring.”


Lost, Found and Imagined

Wed 28 Feb, Saint Luke’s, 7pm

The Unfilmables is a curious audiovisual polyptych in which live scores have been created for a pair of films that don’t actually exist. Mica Levi and electronic supergroup Wrangler are the composers putting their imaginations to the test Film fans dream about the wild and wonderful movies that never quite made it to screen. There’s Tarkovsky’s failed attempt to make Hamlet, Stanley Kubrick’s never-realised Napoleon, Darren Aronofsky’s derailed take on Batman, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful stab at adapting sciencefiction novel Dune, to name a few of the most tantalising ‘what if?’ films. Another to add to this list is The Tourist. No, not the Johnny DeppAngelina Jolie caper from 2010 – you only wish that didn’t exist – but Clair Noto’s wild script about a sex-charged alien underworld in the heart of Manhattan. Quadrophenia director Franc Roddam – inspired by concept art from HR Giger – attempted to make the film in the early 80s, with Francis Ford Coppola as producer. But when Coppola’s American Zoetrope Studio fell into financial trouble, The Tourist was lost to cinema history, until now. As part of curious project The Unfilmables, electronic supergroup

Wrangler (made up of Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter from Tunng and Benge) have imagined a score for Noto’s dark sci-fi, with accompanying visuals coming from Tash Tung and Daniel Conway. Mallinder admits that the prospect of imagining a film that has never actually been made was both fascinating and a bit daunting. “It’s not an attempt to make the film but rather abstract the ideas behind it; to reduce the original design and story to a series of visual and sonic cyphers – an alien lost among us,” he explains. The performance will take the form of a live visual mix with an improvised electronic soundtrack to compliment what is happening on screen Mallinder reckons The Tourist is a great choice for today’s Britain, as Norto’s “intent to spotlight ‘corruption, humanity and xenophobia, of human vs alien struggling to co-exist on Earth’ seemed very pertinent right now.”

The other half of this audiovisual polyptych comes from Mica Levi and her sister Francesca, although the Oscarnominated composer has stretched the concept of the project even further than Mallinder and co. Instead of working from an unproduced script, the Levis have reimagined Sergei Parajanov’s masterpiece The Color of Pomegranates as The Colour of Chips

– ‘a lost British classic set in the North of England.’ “We felt that British life being depicted in such a way has not yet existed,” said Francesca Levi. “I was thinking of utilising the everyday rituals of modern urban life in the UK and using the tableaux technique deployed by Parajanov. I am always interested in the extraordinary in the ordinary.” [Jamie Dunn]

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Sun 25 Feb, GFT, 8.40pm | Mon 26 Feb, GFT, 1.15pm Produced by The Skinny magazine in association with the Glasgow Film Festival: Editor-in-Chief Rosamund West Editor

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Lucy Kirk

Chile Reception Gloria director Sebastián Lelio returns with A Fantastic Woman, the story of a young trans woman under suspicion from authorities and her older partner’s family after tragedy strikes. We speak to its Chilean star, Daniela Vega, about her first lead role


recurring issue when it comes to representation in cinema is allowing characters from certain minority groups to actually be played by actors from those groups. When it comes to stories concerning trans women, it’s still often the case that cis men will be cast – think Eddie Redmayne being called upon to play the historically major trans figure Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl. In the case of Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, an additional insult came from the star’s obliviousness in discussing his role as a trans woman that, disappointingly, got him an Oscar. When Hollywood power players do comment on the lack of appropriate casting for particular groups, one common excuse is that there aren’t any or enough prominent performers from those groups with whom they can get films financed. This ignores the point that you can’t make movie stars out of, say, trans women unless you give them that chance. Over in Chile, that’s just what director Sebastián Lelio (2013’s Gloria) has gone and done with A Fantastic Woman, which features newcomer Daniela Vega, a 28-year-old Chilean actor and singer, in the lead role as a trans woman character. Vega has just one prior supporting part credit on her IMDb page, so Lelio’s film is effectively her debut. And according to the actor, with whom The Skinny sat down ahead of the movie’s UK premiere at the London Film Festival, the director sought her out for the part. “I didn’t have to audition,” she tells us through a translator. “The director wrote the film for me.

Along the way, there were things that were changed and were added once I was involved with the project because he was doing the research before completing the script.”

“The most beautiful thing for me about making film is that everything depends on everybody else” Daniela Vega In the film, Vega plays Marina, a waitress and aspiring singer. Her cis partner, Orlando, is 20 years her senior and left his wife to commit to their relationship. After celebrating her birthday one evening, Orlando suddenly falls gravely ill and – spoiler alert, although it happens in the first 15 minutes – passes away not long after arriving at hospital. Instead of being able to grieve properly, Marina is treated with varying degrees of suspicion. Orlando’s brother is respectful of her, albeit clumsily, but the ex-wife forbids her from attending the funeral, hurling transphobic comments her way, while the son of the family threatens to throw Marina out of the flat she shared

Interview: Josh Slater-Williams with Orlando. Meanwhile, a detective investigates Marina to see if she was involved in Orlando’s death, based on injuries he sustained in a fall on the way to the hospital. A character study by way of a thriller in some respects, Vega tells us “we saw films by John Cassavetes and Louis Malle” as part of the research for the film’s tone. Regarding the title, Vega sees it as less of a character assessment and more a comment on the story’s occasional bursts of magical realism, which include the late Orlando appearing to Marina: “I think the title is referring to her being a woman that has a fantasy. She’s fantastic because she can fly, she can go against the wind as well if she wants to.” Cinematic flights of fancy seem to appeal to Vega, as she says that Pedro Almodóvar is a director with whom she’d like to work, for the reasons that his films “do have a magic realism that is very interesting; that he works, basically, just with women; his stories are very entertaining; and that his aesthetic is very original.” As our short time wraps up, Vega summarises what she would most like people to take away from the film, and what’s been most special about the project: “I would love them to believe in the human being, and to understand that diversity is everything for the human race. The beauty of acting is that it’s a collective project. And the most beautiful thing for me about making film is that everything depends on everybody else.”

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The Cineskinny 2018 preview  

Our guide to Glasgow Film Festival 2018

The Cineskinny 2018 preview  

Our guide to Glasgow Film Festival 2018