Glasgow Film Festival 2021 celebrates audience attendance for online festival

41,191 viewers* attended Glasgow Film Festival 2021 from home, tuning in to 10 World Premieres, 3 European Premieres and 49 UK Premieres

Sweetheart is announced as winner of the GFF 2021 Audience Award

Glasgow Film Festival will return 2 – 13 March 2022

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Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) drew more than 41,000* audience views for its entire 2021 programme, from across the length and breadth of the UK. Audiences from all four nations tuned in online to the 17th edition of the festival which featured 10 World premieres, 3 European premieres and 49 UK premieres, screened across 12 days. GFF opened on Wednesday 24 February with the UK premiere of Lee Isaac Chung’s Golden Globe-winning Minari and closed tonight (Sunday 7 March) with the UK premiere of Suzanne Lindon’s Spring Blossom. A selection of incredible film festival titles remain available to rent from Glasgow Film At Home until Wednesday 10 March. The festival will return in 2022 from 2 – 13 March.

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GFF exceeded expectations and sales targets with its online edition, reaching 41,191 viewers with its online streaming platform Glasgow Film At Home. Audiences also enjoyed post-film Q&As with more than 70 filmmakers, including Kevin Macdonald, Tahar Rahim and Golden Globe winner Jodie Foster for The Mauritanian; Nick Moran and Ewen Bremner for Creation Stories; and Amir El-Masry and Ben Sharrock for Limbo. Further festival buzz was recreated with additional free events around the films which gained a further 1500 viewers, including the much loved GFF film quiz streamed live on social media with The Stayin Inn, and a DJ set to dance to in your living room from Glasgow-based DJ Nightwave, who featured in documentary Underplayed.

A selection of incredible film festival titles remain available to rent from Glasgow Film At Home until Wednesday 10 March. Expiring on Monday 8 March are: City Hall; Welcome To: A Focus on Black Female Filmmakers; Rosa’s Wedding; Tina; and Surge. Films available to rent until Tuesday 9 March include: Dreams on Fire; The Dissident; Yer Old Faither; A Brixton Tale; and Cowboys. Films available to rent until Wednesday 10 March are: There Is No Evil; Welcome To: Lineages of the Landscape; Gunda; The Man Standing Next; Killing Escobar; and our Closing Film, Spring Blossom. For more details please visit

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The GFF 2021 Audience Award winner, sponsored by Caledonian MacBrayne, was announced tonight as Sweetheart, directed by Marley Morrison. Sweetheart is a sharply observed coming-of-age story that charts the relationship between two young women, during a summer holiday at a caravan park in Dorset. The Audience Award is the only award given by GFF and is voted for by our most important guests – the audience.

GFF Industry Focus took place from 1 – 6 March and saw over 400 delegates, attending panels with a focus on diversity and representation, accessibility and how the film industry is moving forward during the Covid-19 pandemic. Guests included a spotlight interview with Oscar-winning screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Our MUBI under 30s ambassador scheme featured Instagram Live chats with filmmakers John McPhail, Rachel Jackson, Ben Sharrock and Eva Riley, each highlighting films created by filmmakers under 30 in the programme. A second year of the Glasgow Film Festival Talent Mentorship Scheme was announced, supported by our festival sponsor MUBI. The first edition of this Scheme finished earlier this year, and consisted of six emerging film practitioners who received six months of mentorship by a group of established filmmakers. We are currently recruiting mentors for our second edition.

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Industry Focus was more accessible than ever before, with a selection of Industry passes sponsored by MUBI made available to filmmakers under 30 from across the UK for just £10. Through our ‘Welcome To’ focus on Black Scottish films and filmmakers, we were able to offer a number of passes free of charge for Black filmmakers who had not previously attended the festival. This programme was made possible by Film Hub Scotland through the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) Film Exhibition Fund, supported by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI. Birds’ Eye View partnered with GFF to offer free access to 25 aspiring filmmakers, curators and critics as part of their Community Fund, made possible by The National Lottery Community Fund via the London Community Response Fund administered by City Bridge Trust.

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Allison Gardner, CEO of Glasgow Film and Glasgow Film Festival Co-director, said: “Glasgow Film Festival 2021 has been another incredible year. Our team have pulled together a programme of quality cinema, reflected by the brilliant attendance and engagement of our audiences, both festival regulars and new audiences from across the UK. We’ve had fantastic responses to our films, ranging from the sell-out World Premiere of Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, to one of my personal highlights, empowering documentary BIG vs SMALL. We can’t wait to welcome audiences and filmmakers back to our home in the Glasgow Film Theatre for our next edition in 2022.”

Allan Hunter, Glasgow Film Festival Co-director, said: “We have all been overwhelmed by the response to this year’s festival. Audiences old and new have embraced the wide-ranging, carefully curated programme, allowing GFF to spread its wings across the whole of the United Kingdom. It has been fantastic to see the results of a great team effort rewarded in this way. It has been a real thrill for filmmakers to witness all the love and support for their work. It has all felt like some bright, warming sun amidst the global gloom and has underlined once again that Glasgow audiences are simply the best.”

Marley Morrison, writer/director of Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Award winner, Sweetheart, said: “Wow! This is totally unexpected. It’s been an emotional and wild journey making this film and to get this recognition from such an amazing festival, I'm hugely grateful. Thank you to BFI, BBC films, and Film London for believing in the project. This award belongs to all the cast and crew who worked so hard to make the film what it is. I want to thank Allison and Allan at Glasgow Film Festival for championing the film, and for all your support of debut filmmakers, and to thank the GFF audience for watching the film and showing it so much love. This means so much to all of us, thank you!”

Michelle Antoniades, producer of Glasgow Film Festival 2021 Award winner, Sweetheart, said: “We’re thrilled that Sweetheart has received the Audience Award. Thank you to the GFF audience for opening their arms to this film, which was made on a micro budget and a lot of love. We’re so grateful to everyone who was involved in the making of the film, especially our dedicated cast and crew, and a massive thank you to the teams at Film London and Glasgow Film Festival for your continued support of new UK filmmakers.”

Kevin Macdonald, director of The Mauritanian, said: “All my earliest film-going memories are in Glasgow, at the ABC as it was, the Odeon and at the GFT. I remember queuing on Sauchiehall Street for the opening weekend of Star Wars, and Superman… So it’s a strange and lovely coincidence to have had my film premiere at Glasgow Film Festival.”

Anthony Baxter, Director of Eye of the Storm said: "It's been great to be a part of Glasgow Film Festival this year. With the festival being online, we were perhaps able to attract a wider audience to the World Premiere of Eye of the Storm. Elderly people for example right across Scotland, who wouldn't have been able to make it to the cinema. And people were also able to join a special global live ‘Zoom’ Q&A we organised as the filmmakers - with participants from New York, Frankfurt and even Grand Cayman!
“Although I missed the GFT's big screen for the film's debut and the opportunity to invite those involved with the film to be physically present, my Covid 'bubble' friends joined me here in Montrose, and the comments received following the online screening have been terrific."

Audience Comments:

“I’ve got to say I’m really impressed with @glasgowfilmfest and their online viewing platform. They’re honestly the first festival or screening event I’ve encountered that offer viewers flexibility and the time and space to view films.” – via Twitter

“Just finished another film & am honestly bowled over by the quality of what I've seen @glasgowfilmfest so far. After months struggling to engage with/watch anything, #GFF has really reignited how much I love the movies. Cinemas may be closed but great films are going nowhere!” – via Twitter

Sambrooke Scott, Head of Audience Development at Screen Scotland said: “We would like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Allison and the whole Glasgow Film Festival team who've moved mountains to deliver this digital edition of the festival. It's been fantastic to see the positive response from audiences - both familiar and new - and from filmmakers whose exceptional work has been given a platform to shine. Screen Scotland is a proud supporter of the festival, and also of the great Scottish films showcased. In challenging times Glasgow Film Festival has shone brightly, bringing the joy of discovery to audiences in Scotland and across the UK.”

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the BFI, said: “This year’s festival has been remarkable in its scope and achievements in the most difficult of circumstances. It’s been a beacon of light for audiences and filmmakers, bringing them together to enjoy their love of cinema, offering exceptional film programming and industry insights. It’s a fantastic example of the activity supported by the National Lottery, which raises £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.”

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “Glasgow Film Festival has been true to its own standards with an exceptional programme, which has been appreciated around the UK. Being able to enjoy an online festival has brought so much pleasure to so many people and provided a brilliant showcase for many people working in the film industry and for Glasgow. It is a festival which will be remembered for its brilliant films rather than for the challenges of the times.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “Congratulations to Allison, Allan and all the team behind Glasgow Film Festival on the successful delivery of another outstanding festival. The 17th edition of Glasgow Film Festival has once again been a fantastic celebration of cinema and I’m delighted to see the audience respond so positively to the festival especially when it had to move to online only.
“Events are a force for good and a vital part of the social fabric of our society. Through innovation and creativity, the team has been able to connect and entertain their loyal audience over the last 10 days and we look forward to being able to welcome film fans back to Glasgow and Scotland in 2022.”

*This page was updated on 23 March 2021 to include our final attendance figure for Glasgow Film Festival 2021 (41,191 viewers), replacing the previous total of 37,773 which covered the period up to 6 March.

As per Scottish Government restrictions, seats available for all shows from 27 December to 23 January will be capped to meet the 1m social distancing requirement.

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