Glasgow FIlm Festival 2011: Round-Up


I’ve already reviewed four of my favourite films of the festival so far, Submarine, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Island, and Oranges and Sunshine.

Here’s a round-up of the five other films I managed to catch over the course of this year’s fest:


Opening this year’s festival was Potiche, starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu. The film is a bright, breezy affair set in the 1970s.

It exists very much in the tradition of a number of British films in the 1990s, such as Billy Elliot or The Full Monty. This is a version of the 1970s as it would have liked to be remembered, where all the attitudes to gender, equality and so on are depicted with a strange kind of nostalgia.

Potiche is a film it’s difficult not to be charmed by. However, ultimately its humour and style feel as dated as the time period it depicts.

Our Life

Our Life is an italian film that sees Claudio (Elio Germano) struggling to provide for his wife and two sons.

In the tradition of Italian neo-realism, we see Germano give a Palme d’Or winning performance as a foreman under pressure to do whatever it takes to get his building finished on time.

Along the way he gets involved with drug dealers, dodgy property developers, and illegal immigrants as he gets further and further over his head.

The film is captivating and heartfelt. As we go through Claudio’s journey with him, we can’t help but feel both sympathy and frustration at his situation and the choices he makes. A fine, if not spectacular piece.


A film which will appeal to a very limited audience, but one I couldn’t stop thinking about long after it had finished.

The plot sees a family going on holiday to the Isles of Scilly. It soon emerges they have become deeply isolated, and are unable to communicate their feelings to one another.

This is a film that revels in its silence and awkward moments. As such it made deeply uncomfortable viewing, and it took me about thirty minutes to realise the narrative was going to give me very few clues as to who these characters actually were. As such I was forced to carefully watch every detail, piece of dialogue, and movement to find out more about the troubled souls depicted on screen.

The slow pace, lack of answers and lack of drama will not be to everyone’s tastes. In fact about half a dozen people walked out of the screening I attended, and only half of those who remained stayed for the Q&A with director Joanna Hogg. For those willing to put the effort in however, I think it is a film which rewards the viewer the more they are willing to engage with it.

You Instead

Scotland’s own David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Hallam Foe) returns with You Instead, a movie filmed over the four days of last year’s T in the Park.

The plot sees the lead singers of an all-girl rock band, and an all-boy rock band handcuffed together with predictably hilarious/romantic consequences.

Of Mackenzie’s films I’ve only seen Hallam Foe, which both disturbed and intrigued me in equal measure. You Instead is such a light and breezy affair, it’s difficult to believe it’s made by the same director.

Its main purpose seems to be in trying to capture the festival experience, and in many ways it has done precisely that. Fun, fast, and haphazard, but not something you want to think about too much afterwards. As such, my recommendation is that if you want the experience of T in the Park you should probably just get tickets for T in the Park.


Set in the 1970s, Balibo tells the story of the Balibo Five: five Australian journalists who were reporting on the crisis emerging in East Timor as the Indonesian army were getting ready to invade.

The film is told from the point of view of Roger East, who goes to East Timor to investigate the fate of the five journalists who are almost certainly dead.

Balibo, quite rightly, has no qualms about showing just how brutal the Indonesian army was as they attempted to take over this small country. Such a depiction asks questions of its audience: why is it we care so much about some genocides, but know little of others?

Balibo, like Oranges and Sunshine, is a very emotive depiction of a real life tale that is uncompromising in its goal of bringing to light some very important issues.


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