Glasgow Film Festival 2019 celebrates record audience numbers and announces Audience Award winner

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Matt Pinder’s captivating documentary Harry Birrell: Films of Love and War, narrated by Bodyguard star Richard Madden, wins Audience Award following its World Premiere at GFF19

Glasgow Film Festival 2019 ended on a high tonight as it celebrated record admissions and announced the winner of its prestigious Audience Award, sponsored by Benihana.

Total admissions for the festival are 42,224 - a new record. There were also record admission numbers at the festival’s partner venues Cineworld Renfrew Street and CCA and the brand new Everyman cinema was welcomed to the festival family, plus the free morning retrospective strand of classic cinema celebrated its fourth year by recording its biggest ever audience, as over 300 people packed into a free screening of Midnight Cowboy.

Actor Laura Fraser announced the winner of the Audience Award at the UK premiere of Beats, the major new feature about rave culture in 90s Scotland. The only trophy handed out at the Festival, the Audience Award is given to the most popular film out of a specially selected shortlist of 10 by first or second-time directors.

Lead produced by John Archer at Hopscotch Films along with Harry Birrell's granddaughter Carina Birrell, directed by Matt Pinder and narrated by Bodyguard and Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, Harry Birrell: Films of Love and War uses hundreds of hours of archive footage to weave the story of one man’s cinematic vision of the 20th century. Paisley-born Harry Birrell was given his first cine-camera as a boy in 1928 and spent his life recording incidents great and small. His home movies of family events and fine romances now ache with fond nostalgia but Harry’s life was also filled with far away adventures. Matt Pinder’s beautifully composed, captivating documentary, which had its World Premiere at Glasgow Film Festival on 24 February, plunders the treasure trove of Harry’s 400 films and personal diaries to capture a vivid sense of wartime years spent in Bombay, the jungles of Burma and the mountains of Nepal. The film will visit cinemas around Scotland later this year as part of GFF On Tour.

Previous winners of the Audience Award include Xavier Legrand’s Custody and Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha. This year, six out of the 10 shortlisted films were directed by women.

Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) is one of the leading film festivals in the UK and run by Glasgow Film, a charity which also runs Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT). GFF is made possible by support from Glasgow Life, Screen Scotland, the British Film Institute (using funds from The National Lottery) and EventScotland. Glasgow Film Festival will return for its 16th edition from 26 February to 8 March 2020.

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Carina Birrell, producer of Harry Birrell: Films of Love and War and Harry’s granddaughter said:

“I'm absolutely delighted to win the Audience Award, and to have had our world premiere at Glasgow Film Festival - it's been the perfect platform in every way. Harry built his own cinema in the 1950s to make sharing his films as joyful an experience for the audience as it was for the filmmaker. He would have been truly thrilled having his work recognised and appreciated in this way. It's been a joy making this film from start to finish, and I'm so grateful to everyone involved, especially our amazing director Matt Pinder, everyone at Hopscotch, Screen Scotland and BBC Scotland, my family, and to Richard Madden for bringing Harry's words alive.”

Matt Pinder, director of Harry Birrell: Films of Love and War said:

“I’m truly thrilled and honoured that the film has been recognised and supported in this way.  Thanks so much to everyone that came to the screenings and voted in this way. It was such a wonderful experience to share the film with a packed out GFT1.  Glasgow Film Festival was the perfect place for us to launch this film and hopefully with this award we can go on to share it with many more audiences in Scotland and across the world.  Harry Birrell Presents was such a labour of love for so many people, not least Harry himself who spent his whole life watching the world with wonder and recording what he saw. He would be over the moon with the news that his work has finally been seen and appreciated. What an incredible legacy he has left us with.”   

Allan Hunter, Glasgow Film Festival Co-director said:

“It has been an incredible festival this year with a real galaxy of guests from the amazing Wild Rose evening with Jessie Buckley at Grand Ole Opry to Josh O’Connor, Carlos Acosta, Carol Morley, Bo Burnham, Matt Bomer and many more. Our audiences have supported the festival across the board from the diverse range of work by Scottish filmmakers to world cinema delights like Belgian thriller Mother’s Instinct and Kyrgyzstan musical The Song Of The Tree. It is the depth of their affection for the festival and the warmth of their welcome for filmmakers far and wide that continues to make Glasgow such a special event.”

Allison Gardner, Glasgow Film Festival Co-director said:

“We’re thrilled to have welcomed record audience numbers to our 15th edition of the festival. One of my highlights was the Scottish premiere of The Merger, a film that engaged everyone who saw it. The story of a small town in Australia that integrates refugees through its Australian football team touched people’s hearts and the humour was infectious. Followed by a great Q&A with Director Mark Grentall and producer Anne Robinson, this was a fabulous night amongst others at GFF19. I’m also thrilled to have homegrown talent celebrated as our audiences voted Harry Birrell: Films of Love and War their winner of the Audience Award and hope audiences will enjoy it as it tours across Scotland as part of GFF On Tour later this year”.

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