GFF18 Opening Gala: Isle of Dogs


And we’re off! GFF18 officially began last night, starting with a bang – or was it a bark? – at our Opening Gala screening of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. Festivities commenced with a very special guest joining us on the red carpet. Visit Scotland sent their Ambassadog George as their official delegate. Ensuring our carpet was an aisle of dogs, George didn’t hesitate to take the lead, pulling festival directors Allison Gardner and Allan Hunter past the start line and posing for photos with his many fans.

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GFF18 Co-directors Allison Gardner and Allan Hunter taking to the red carpet with Visit Scotland's Ambassadog George.

George found a kindred spirit in Jeremy Dawson, one of the film’s producers, who was next to join him. Dawson has produced Anderson’s previous five feature films, The Grand Budapest Hotel (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox (in which he voiced the character of Beaver’s Son), and The Darjeeling Limited, having originally worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou as the film’s visual effects supervisor. He has along list of lauded visual effects credits under his belt, having worked closely with Darren Aronofsky in the past on Black Swan, The Fountain (for which he was also second unit director), Requiem for a Dream, and Pi

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Isle of Dogs' Producer Jeremy Dawson joins Ambassadog George on the Opening Gala red carpet.
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Gala guests were treated to complimentary prosecco before heading to the screens, where GFF goodie bags awaited with copies of The List, The Skinny’s CineSkinny, Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, and special Isle of Dogs Itsu treats courtesy of 20th Century Fox. When everyone was settled, the festival co-directors introduced the festival, thanking GFF partners Creative Scotland, EventScotlandBFI and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau.

Allison stated that “there really is something for everyone to enjoy at GFF18." Allan elaborated that “Between our Opening Gala tonight and the rousing documentary Nae Pasaran, which closes the festival as a world premiere on March 4th, we have 12 days in which we promise you The Perfect Movie Mix.” 

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Treats for our Opening Gala guests.

In a landmark year for women in the film industry, Allan discussed the role played by women and women filmmakers at GFF, beginning: “It has been a game changer of a year in terms of gender equality, respect and rights. Glasgow has always been a festival that’s championed women filmmakers. We are the home of the Margaret Tait Award, named in honour of one our most respected Scottish filmmakers. This year, we pay tribute to trailblazer Ida Lupino, who was the only woman director in Hollywood in the 1950s, we salute Muriel Spark, and seven of the ten films nominated for the audience award are directed by women.” 

At this point, Allison raised her fist and a cheer erupted throughout the audience. Allan continued “There are incredible films by incredible women throughout the entire programme. From Agnés Varda’s film, to May Miles Thomas, Karen Gillan’s film, Lynne Ramsay’s film, and so many others, including Nora Twomey, Oscar-nominated for her beautiful animated film The Breadwinner, which screens here on Friday evening. She is taking a break from her Oscar schedule to be with us, and that film, indeed, was produced by Angelina Jolie. I would say, with this game changer of a year, what a pleasure and privilege it is to work in an organisation that is powered by the passions, professionalism and skill of some incredible women, from chair Denise Mina, to CEO Jaki McDougall, to the tireless Allison, and the many amazing women in all aspects of this organisation that work to provide you with the festival that starts tonight.”

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Left: Allison inspires a battle-cry on behalf of women in film; Right: Producer Jeremy Dawson gives a marvellous introduction for Isle of Dogs.

Following this, Jeremy Dawson came to introduce the film itself, noting that, while the film had its World Premiere last week at Berlinale, this was the film’s first ever screening for an English-speaking audience. He went on to mention the film’s UK production, and further emphasise the Scottish talent that went into making the film. 

“We had a bunch of Scots working on this film. We had a couple who are in the audience tonight. We had Madeline McDonald who ran our puppet department. She was the puppet co-ordinator… She’s a Glaswegian… We had Mark Lacey, who was our second assistant director who, you know, was basically the guy who was running the floor, because this is like making twenty movies at the same time. You have a crew of two or three hundred people, with forty shooting units at the same time, and you’re running around on walkie-talkies while all these puppets are moving at like one frame at a time. And we’ve also got Aine [Woods, lead fur fabricator] here who was one of our puppet makers and did a lot of – I’ll put it in quotes – ‘furring’ of the dogs, because it’s not real fur… And we have Eiko [Emersleben] who was one of our editors, and they live in Edinburgh. So we have a bunch of Scottish people here. And everything in this film that was painted was painted by Roy Bell, who is the most Scottish guy you’ll meet. Like, he a little Fife pipe and has a kilt… and I can’t understand a thing he’s saying, but he’s a brilliant painter.” 

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Stars Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray join Director Wes Anderson in a special GFF Intro clip for Isle of Dogs.

Jeremy’s introduction was succeeded by a clip sent to us from Italy, in which Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray each welcomed the GFF audience and in a typically bizarre manner. 

After the excitement of the screening, audience members were invited to join us for the Opening Gala Party at 29 Glasgow. There, they were treated to a spectacular performance from the UK’s premiere traditional Japanese drummers, Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers.

Drinks were provided by our sponsors Rekorderlig Botanicals and Staropramen, ensuring a delicious start to the festival for those with a thirst for cinema!

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Left: Traditional Japanese drumming from Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers ; Right: Delicious Rekorderlig Botanicals and Staropramen on offer for our Gala guests.
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Left: DJ Brian Matthews on the decks at our Opening Gala party; Right: GFT all lit up in festival banners for GFF18

The night closed with a bop, with many thanks to DJ Brian Matthews; the perfect way to kickstart what promises to be a spectacular festival.


At Glasgow Film Festival, we pride ourselves on being a festival that loves the movies and loves our audience. GFF18 is your festival - so talk to us and let us know what you're up to! Did you love Isle of Dogs? Did you take a GIF with our Social Halo? Tag us in your photos, posts and tweets - we want to hear from you! #GFF18


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