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Mark Cousins is a cinematic polymath. He’s a film critic, writing for such notable publications as Sight and Sound and Prospect. He’s a film historian – his Story of Film book should be on the shelves of anyone who’s interested in cinema. He’s a film festival impresario: he was artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival in his 20s and in recent years has co-directed a series of small, intimate festivals with his close friend Tilda Swinton. And he’s a filmmaker, directing documentaries on subjects as varied as Iranian cinema and neo-Nazism.
“What’s it like to be a child in war – not when the conflict is raging, but when the war tide is out, as it were, when kids are telling stories or playing games?” The First Movie tries to answer this question through film – watching and making them. Mark tells us how he traveled with a small team to Goptapa in Kurdish Iraq, a village of great beauty and tragedy, armed with a hand-full of digital camcorders, some red balloons and a few of his favourite DVDs, to create a “magic realist” documentary that paints a very different image of the country we know from rolling news footage and Hollywood movies.
Posted at 23:04, 28th February 2010
“Welcome to the feast!” proclaim the Glasgow Film Festival’s organisers. And what a feast it is; now in its sixth year, it has grown from its humble beginnings to become one of the largest festivals in the UK, with over 200 screenings spread over eight venues across the city. The GFF prides itself as a festival for the people, with no private screenings for industry types. It is also not uncommon to be sitting beside the director or leading actor of the film you are watching; this rare intimacy and community atmosphere are at the hub of the GFT and the GFF.
To retain such a characteristic must be difficult for the festival organisers, considering its growing status and popularity (more than 28,000 visitors in 2009). Screen Shrapnel spoke to co-director of the GFF, Allison Gardener about curating such a festival, and we get an insight into some of the special events and guests planned for the coming week.
We also spoke to Rosie and Matt from The Magic Lantern, about the pain and pleasure of sifting through hundreds of short films, and how important the Shorts Film Festival is for the film-making community in Scotland.
Posted at 21:20, 20th February 2010
Bad pop songs and afterschool specials are continually telling us that “children are our future”. The young people programming this year’s Glasgow Youth Film Festival have said “fuck that”, their future is now. In its inaugural year, the festival is a unique experiment where every aspect of the festival, from programming to schmoozing with the festival’s guests, is performed by the young organisers; there’s no adult patronising this youth audience.
Guiding the young programmers through the finer points of festival curation was Emily Munro, Head of Learning at the Glasgow Film Theatre. She spoke to Subcity's Screen Shrapnel on the eve of the festival to explain the machinations of this singular film festival.
We also caught up with Tom Harper, director of the festival opener The Scouting Book for Boys, a poetic take on unrequited love set in the most prosaic of locations, a caravan park in Norfolk. It was an inspired opening, speaking to both hormone filled teenagers and the older members of the audience, who could reminisce on their salad days petting in the shallow end of a Butlins swimming pool. Tom explained to us the trials of making his debut feature, his opinion of film festivals in general and why he’s delighted to bring his film to Glasgow.
Posted at 21:20, 20th February 2010