GFT Blog: Going Places

This month, the GFT Team talk about their top films with locations in the title, celebrating the release of: Sean Baker's The Florida Projectmoving true-life story Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool; fascinating Canadian documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time, and a rare screening of David Lean's epic Lawrence of Arabia on 70mm this month.

Content warning: some strong language

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Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)

It might be a bit predictable, but when asked about a favourite film with a place name in the title, Paris, Texas springs immediately to mind… Not least because the place name in the title is not the one you instantly think of, and associate with many films, and this contradiction is a feature in the narrative.  It’s an extraordinary film, being almost hyper-American – a road movie and a western - while being a French / German co-production, and feeling quite European. The performances from the late, great Harry Dean Stanton, and Nastassja Kinski at her most striking, are wonderful.  The cinematography is exceptional, in both the sweeping cinematic scenes of the desert landscapes, and the emotionally taut dialogues between the lead characters, and the slide-guitar score will stay with me forever.  

Rachel Fiddes // Glasgow Film Festival Manager

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The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

“Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore”


My ultimate favourite film is the The Wizard of Oz.  It might not be a real place but if it was I would be there in a heartbeat. As the house hits down on Oz, and Dorothy opens the door we are transported into a magical land... Emerald city, flying monkeys and Munchkin Land.  

The yellow brick road sends you into a trance as you get sucked into the film and all its magic. The colours and all the interesting characters Dorothy and Toto meet along the way make the film - where else can you find a colour changing horse?!  
I've seen this film hundreds of times but it still has the same magic. It has so many nods in other films that I think it's a guilty pleasure for many.  

Even though it was made in 1939 (year the GFT opened, known as the Cosmo then) it still stands the test of time.   

Lorna Sinclair // Development Manager

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel would be my choice as it’s a meticulously stylish and deadpan Wes Anderson movie that walks the fine line between masterpiece and madness.  Ralph Fiennes is on superb form as Monsieur Gustave, the legendary concierge of the hotel in the early 1930s.  There is also another amazing performance from my favourite Edward Norton…  

Caroline Rice // Office Manager

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Berlin Syndrome (Cate Shortland, 2016)

Adapted from Melanie Joosten’s 2011 novel, Australian director Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome had its UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival 2017. Kicking myself for missing it in February, I was first in line to see it back at GFT in June. This psychological thriller explores the power play between hostage Clare (a standout performance from Teresa Palmer) and kidnapper Andi (Max Riemelt). The compelling battle of wills unfolds mainly in a claustrophobic, escape-proofed apartment and I was completely gripped, on the edge of my seat, and to be honest, a little creeped out when I visited Berlin in September…  this film stays with you.  

Margaret Smith //  Press & Marketing Coordinator

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Train to Busan (Yeon Sang-ho, 2016)

A passenger train leaves Seoul station on a non-stop trip to South Korea’s second city, but what no one on board knows is that the whole country is just about to fall under a zombie apocalypse. What’s more, the last passenger to get on before departure is carrying the contagion and is hellbent on infecting everyone else travelling. The film that Train To Busan reminded me most of is The Posideon Adventure (1972, director: Ronald Neame). Except, of course, it’s far better. Both are disaster movies, of sorts. Both involve a group of individuals thrown together in a situation where they must work as a team to navigate themselves from point A (of extreme danger) to point B (of temporary sanctuary). Both feature loathsome villains who selfishly look out for themselves, even when this puts others in mortal danger – although their misdeeds do eventually lead to their own satisfyingly grisly deaths. Train To Busan also expertly employs that trick of having bursts of tense action followed by periods of re-evaluation where the passengers – and we – take a breather, revisit what has happened, who has survived/died and what their next challenge is. Unsentimental, frequently funny and always exhilarating, I find myself in complete agreement with Edgar Wright, who knows a thing or two about the subject, who declared that this was “the best zombie film I’ve seen in forever”.  

David Gattens // Finance/Commercial Director

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Fucking Amal - Show Me Love (Lukas Moodysson, 1984)

Lukas Moodysson's first feature, Fucking Åmal, centers on the lives of teenagers Elin and Agnes in the small town of Åmal in Sweden, and is one of my all time favourite films. This coming-of-age story captures the heartaches and struggles of adolescence in a moving, heartwarming, and relatable way, while also displaying classic wry, laconic Scandi humour. I think it's also dear to me because I was a teenager when it came out in ‘90s Finland, and I fell in love with it on my first cinema viewing. Fucking Åmal will definitely help you get that Hygge feeling in the darkening winter nights!  

Maija Hietala // Industry Coordinator  

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Der Himmel über Berlin - Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)

In Wenders’ 1987 masterpiece, Berlin could be seen as a principal character, its East-West divide complemented by the division between the angels’ black-and-white eternal world and the in-colour lives of the city’s mortal citizens. Wenders focuses on Berlin’s history and communities, in juxtaposition with the angels’ lack thereof. And so Bruno Ganz’ Damiel’s sacrifice of his immortal privileges to join the material world for love, becomes a touching reflection on the desire for unity in a divided city. The angels are unable to fully relate to and engage with people’s thoughts and emotions, but Damiel desperately wants to understand. He and his companion Cassiel might have a grasp on all of history and reality, they remain only detached observers. The film’s ultimate prioritisation of love and understanding above all else is poignant during what was a complex time for a nation and city dealing with its recent troubled past.  

Looking at Der Himmel über Berlin now, it’s a poetic historical document, a stunning exploration of the city pre-unification. And let’s not leave the appearances of Peter Falk and Nick Cave unmentioned.  

Sanne Jehoul // GSFF Coordinator and Programmer

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Picnic At Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975)

Peter Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock centres on an outing on St Valentine’s Day by a group of school girls and their teachers from an upper class women’s private boarding college of Victorian colonisers. The cinematography and the somewhat eerie musical score (with overtones of Aboriginal notes) conjure up the sweltering heat and the languorous and sensual atmosphere. The girls gradually remove items of their white corseted costumes, removing hats, shoes, and rolling down their black stockings to reveal their flesh, as the blazing light and heat merges them with the vast rocky wilderness. The Hanging Rocks throb with a numinous power, both sacred and dreadful, as three girls and a teacher are pulled upwards in a trance by a mysterious force.  

Picnic At Hanging Rock is all the more powerful and disturbing as it feels like a true story, narrated in a quasi-documentary style, and its ending is unresolved and mystifying.  The film, made in 1975, became one of Australia’s first international hits and heralded a new Australian cinema. Hanging Rock in Victoria, southeastern Australia, has since attracted legions of tourists and the events in the film have fused with Australia’s national folklore.   

Liana Marletta // Development Executive 

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Manchester by the Sea ​(Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)

How do you return to a life you thought you'd left behind? When situtations happen do we move on, or move away? Or maybe it's a bit of both.  

Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea hit me like crashing waves at the peak of surfing season. If I ever wanted to understand just how deeply grief and loss, and rage and shame could impact not only a person but a community, this was the film that could give me that lesson.  

If I messed up, like really messed up - things go wrong, badly wrong, I don't know who would hold the key to forgiveness. That thought of the unknown scares me, and this complexity is brilliantly woven through the story, the family, the day to day lives of people who you'd know a version of living on your street, running your local or driving your bus.  

This film was crafted to take you somewhere deep and important. If you're like me, you'll realise about 30 minutes in, that you've been totally swept away - but there's always a piece of broken surfboard to hold on to as you float to shore.  

Jodie Wilkinson // Public Engagement Coordinator

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Toby Hooper, 1984)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a savage piece of work. Full of brutal imagery, industrial noise and a genuinely believable family of mad villains - the film is on another level. Combine these elements with the look of the film (the hot rural landscape & '70s grit), and you have the perfect setting for the big yin to have a shot on his chainshaw. Although the circumstances are absurdly violent, I think the horror of the film is the disturbing ability to reach our senses and bewilder us psychologically. There’s a few laughs as well by the way... The definitive pro-vegetarian film.  

Danny Hoffmann // Marketing and Engagement Assistant

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In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)

“Maybe that's what hell is, the entire rest of eternity spent in fucking Bruges”

I had zero expectations when I first went to see In Bruges at the cinema nearly 10 years ago. The film turned out to be a very pleasant surprise and eventually inspired a trip to Bruges itself a few years later. Despite Colin Farrell’s complaints – the films paints Bruges as a very beautiful town, the characters in it are a little more murky. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are two hitmen banished to Bruges to lie low, after a job goes wrong, by their boss played by Ralph Fiennes. What follows is a hilarious black comedy that I really need to watch again!

Sarah Emery // GFF Guest Coordinator

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