Back to the Cinema


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~It's been a long five months without GFT. Throughout lockdown, we have been so thankful to live in a time where it's possible to stream the best new films into our homes and continue to share our love of cinema with you online, but nothing compares to the feeling of sitting together in the cinema and watching a story unfold on the big screen.

The cinema re-opens in just a few days, on Monday 31 August. So many of you have reached out to share your favourite memories of GFT during our temporary closure, and those messages of support have brought us so much joy. While we wait like children on Christmas Eve to open the doors of our favourite place, we'd like to return the favour and share with you why this wonderful place means so much to all of us, as well as a few lovely messages we've received from industry friends.

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"The lack of cinema has been a gaping hole in my life. I love the feeling when the lights go down and the screen lights up; that sense that you could be about to experience your greatest film discovery yet – watching a film at home just can’t replicate that.

"The film I’m most looking forward to seeing when we re-open is one we haven’t announced yet, so you heard it here first: Bong Joon-Ho’s early film Memories of Murder is getting a brand new 4K remastered release later in September, and I can’t wait to see it." 

- Paul Gallagher, GFT Programme Manager

“I was at GFT with the great Francesco Rosi for the Italian Film Festival. Peter Mullan was there for a screening of Orphans in GFT 1. Denis Lawson was there to screen the short film he had directed. He had his nephew with him for a little family support - Ewan McGregor of course. There was a reception on and the whole building was buzzing. I remember looking around and thinking what an amazing gem of a place in the heart of Glasgow.”

- Allan Hunter, GFF Co-Director

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"There has been a GFT-shaped hole in my life since you had to shut down. I can’t wait til I’m skipping back to you to have my innards shaken up or my laughter unleashed or to be left a sobbing wreck. You have been sorely missed."

- Kate Dickie, Actor

"During lockdown there were loads of things I missed terribly. As the weeks dragged on, I either made do with alternative versions (virtual pub quiz anyone?), or learnt to live without. But the cinema is the one thing I couldn't replace. It's not just the small screen and lack of surround sound - I'm in desperate need of escapism and can't wait to sit in a dark room, with no distractions and immerse myself in a room full of people doing the same thing. Whether it's going to the cinema alone, which I love, or with other people, I miss the atmosphere and tension of watching something new or old in a shared space. Welcome back GFT, I've missed you."

Debbie Aitken, GFF Festival Manager

"GFT is such a special place in the hearts of so many people and has been so missed at this strange time. I have numerous memories of amazing screenings at the cinema and have been transported across the world and even into space many times while sitting in the cinema! Highlights for me are so numerous but would have to include 16 cracking Glasgow Film Festivals and other special events such as when I got to meet David Lynch in person and walk him around the block while he had a cigarette and chatted about his favourite hairspray! I also watched an amazing Q&A when Ewan McGregor and Baz Lurhmann introduced Moulin Rouge to an audience of secondary school kids who were understandably wowed by the experience! My list goes on to include 7 weddings which took place in the cinema and were testimony to how much GFT meant to each couple, and the ability we have to make our customer experiences really special and memorable. I cannot wait for the cinema to open again so we can continue to make movie memories of our own to continue well into the future!"

- Angela Freeman, GFT Senior Front of House Manager

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"The GFT plays a huge role in providing access to visual arts, critical and cultural knowledges and the placing of internationalism within the Glasgow and Scottish cultural scene, and I'm delighted its doors will once again be open. 

"From watching favourites such as Home Alone and Sunset Boulevard on the big screen for the first time, to attending discussions and film festivals which facilitate and showcase our commonalities, for a wee place the GFT has been big and instrumental in broadening hearts and minds. 

"For many years, the GFT has moved me - tears and laughter at Nae Pasaran, been a site of connectivity to underrepresented idea(l)s and helped to sustain relationships through shared experiences. Recently, I've been fortunate to undertake work with GFT and found the environment and staff to be responsive and open to exploring ideas. This has been reflected during the pandemic where GFT has sought to maintain a sense of community whilst physical access was not possible.

"I look very much forward to being able to visit what feels like an old and sorely missed friend and encourage everyone to (re)discover their friend in the GFT and its offerings." 

- layla-roxanne hill, Curator, Writer and Organiser

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"My best memories of GFT are always when there's a super-enthusiastic crowd. Both of my visits during the sheer madness that is The Room are full of funny stories. If you've seen The Room at GFT before, you'll know the importance of spoons so watching my friend sit down and then pull handfuls of plastic spoons out of every pocket (trouser pockets, jacket pockets, inside jacket pockets - all full of spoons) is a sight I'll never forget. At my second screening of the film (because you can never go just once), the sheer joy when someone stood up in the middle of the film and yelled 'Reclaim the Spoons!' and led the charge for the front three rows to all get up and grab discarded spoons from the floor was one of those laugh until your stomach hurts moments."

Emma McDonald, GFT Youth Programme Officer 

"I am very excited about being able to return to the home of cinema in Glasgow. GFT is where I first discovered foreign language films and it literally opened up new worlds to me. Knowing that the GFT team genuinely care about their audience makes me feel secure about the safety of returning to see films in this wonderful building."

- Nicola Kettlewood, Film Hub Scotland Manager

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"Most of my favourite cinema experiences, the films that have stayed with me the longest, have been at GFT. You feel a sense of magic the minute you walk in - I think that’s part history, part people and part getting completely lost in film for a few hours. My last cinema experience before lockdown was the closing film of GFF 2020 and it has definitely kept me going, but I cannot wait to be back and watching films at GFT."

- Raisah Ahmed, Screenwriter and Director

"GFT is a home to so many. As you walk through the doors you are absorbed in its unique atmosphere and the history surrounds you. When you watch a film it feels like a joint experience with the people around you. I feel so proud to say I work at GFT. It means so much to many people and as I say 'GFT' you can see people's faces light up followed by their fondest memories of visiting. GFT is not just a cinema it is a beating cultural heart of Scotland."

- Lorna Sinclair, GFT Development Manager

"I was clearing out some boxes the other day and came across all my GFT ticket stubs. It was so lovely seeing the titles: Phantom Thread (70mm) which I saw after work by myself in Screen 1 marvelling at Daniel Day Lewis ability to make a list of breakfast items seem like the most interesting chat ever, Parasite (x2) which I saw on a packed Friday evening and loved it so much I took a friend to see it on the following Monday, Romantic Comedy which was one of the last during GFF 2020/ pre-lockdown, complete with live score, and Heartburn which while a solid film (thanks Nora, Meryl and Jack) paled in comparison to the chat I had in the queue for the toilet afterwards with a woman who was on a first date. It’s that mixture of great films and great people that make the GFT so special and I can’t wait to get back there."

- Georgia Stride, Film Hub Scotland Knowledge & Network Co-ordinator

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"My favourite memory of GFT was the UK premiere of Beats where the whole cinema were cheering and going mental and it was like everyone really was on Ecstasy!" 

- Rachel Jackson, Actor

"Since the closure of GFT and all cinemas in March, we've become full-time programmers for our own at home movie houses. We've curated films from the likes of Netflix, MUBI, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Sky Movies, and even dusted off those antiques known as Digital Video Discs that we've been hoarding. We've selected films to reflect or counteract the mood and news of each day: to educate, to entertain, to detach, to escape, to keep the kids off our backs in between the home schooling. But has anyone's enforced consumption of films at home really replaced the magical collective experience found within a cinema? 

"For me, nothing this year has topped the first film I saw at GFT: the exhilarating Uncut Gems in Cinema 1 back on January 16th, where I spent half of the last act watching the restless reactions of people around me. I've missed unforgettable moments like this that you just can't recreate while social distancing in your living room. I've missed so much more over the last five months. I've missed having three great options of what to watch at any given time, rather than the overwhelming decision of 3,000 on demand. I've missed the solitude of a distraction free environment where my phone, the door bell, my partner or the sun can't interfere. I've missed making movie dates with friends who I now realise I exclusively hang out with at the GFT. 

"I've missed seeing multiple films in one day and actually having to get off my seat and take an interval. I've missed sitting in a dark room in the afternoon without making my neighbours concerned about what I'm hiding behind my drawn curtains. I've missed the urgency of making time to see a film only being screened for one or two days, rather than the convenience of adding it to my watchlist and never getting around to actually watching it because of its infinite availability. I've missed having to control the length and volume of my laughter as social etiquette. I've missed adding GFT ticket stubs to my 12 year collection. I've missed tapping along to the Europa Cinemas jingle on my leg. I've missed being in the place that has nurtured my love for film and I can't wait to be back from August 31st."

- Rishaad Ait El Moudden, GFT Board Member

Click here to read our audience's favourite memories of GFT.


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