Glasgow Film Festival 2017: Pioneer

The greatest names in movie history had to begin somewhere, see tomorrows stars at this years Glasgow Film Festival!

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Glasgow Film Festival 2017: Pioneer
About Glasgow Film Festival 2017: Pioneer

The great Danny Boyle has a theory that every director’s first feature is very often their best. Think of Citizen Kane, Sex, Lies and Videotape or Reservoir Dogs and he might just have a point. Keep that theory in mind as you join us for an unmissable exercise in talentspotting with our showcase of filmmakers at the very start of what promise to be glittering careers. Our Pioneer strand is devoted to first and second features from some of the most inspiring new talents on the world stage. They all display a distinctive vision and personal sensibility that mark them out from the crowd, rendering their makers ones to watch. The class of 2017 comes from far and wide, stretching from the Cannes prize-winner The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki to the UK premiere of powerful Memphis drama Free in Deed. Support a group of filmmakers who hope that you’ll always remember their first time.

Across the Waters (Fuglene Over Sundet)

GFT / Fri 17 Feb (18.10) | Grosvenor / Mon 20 Feb (18.15)
Brotherhood director Nicolo Donato returns with a thrilling drama inspired by the actions of his grandfather during the Second World War. In 1943, rumours circulate that the Germans are about to deport the entire population of 7,500 Danish Jews. Jewish jazz musician Arne Itkin (David Dencik from Men & Chicken) decides that he must flee the country with his wife Irina (Danica Curcic) and five year-old son, to seek sanctuary in Sweden. In their darkest hour who can they trust and who will seek to profit from their plight?

Pioneer / Director Nicolo Donato Cast David Dencik, Danica Curcic, Jakob Cedergren
Denmark 2016, 1h34m, Danish and German with English subtitles, N/C 12+ Thanks to StudioCanal


GFT / Sat 25 (17.45) & Sun 26 Feb (10.45)
Neighbouring Sounds director Kleber Mendonça Filho returns with another intriguing insight into the state of modern Brazil that also provides a magnificent central role for Sonia Braga, so fondly remembered for Kiss of the Spiderwoman. Braga plays Clara, a retired music critic who is the sole resident of an old apartment block. She stubbornly refuses to move despite the blandishments and pressures of real estate developers. As the battle of wills intensifies, the film pits the brutal demands of big business against a view of the world in which places, objects and memories have a price far beyond money.

Pioneer / Director Kleber Mendonça Filho Cast Sonia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Irhandir Santos
Brazil / France 2016, 2h22m, Portuguese with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Arrow Films

Clash (Eshtebak)

CCA / Sun 19 (20.30) & Mon 20 Feb (15.30)
Egypt’s Oscar contender is a tense, harrowing, state-of-the-nation drama. Set in 2013, it pitches the audience into the turmoil of the mass protests that toppled the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. In the crushing heat of an already fraught day, rival demonstrators, innocent bystanders, allies and bitter foes are bundled into a police van. It is the beginning of a living nightmare in which the claustrophobic setting and frazzled tempers spark endless disagreements, resentment and conflict that builds with all the intensity of a pressure cooker destined to explode.

Pioneer / Director Mohamed Diab Cast Nelly Karim, Hani Adel, Tarek Abdel Aziz
Egypt / France / Germany 2016, 1h37m, Arabic with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Arrow Films

A Dark Song

GFT / Thu 23 (20.20) & Fri 24 Feb (13.00)
A cult film in the making, Liam Gavin’s debut feature A Dark Song impressively combines pitch black comedy, desperate grief and the supernatural. Sophia (Catherine Walker) is so stricken by the death of her child that she reaches out to arrogant, overbearing occultist Solomon (a boisterous Steve Oram) in the belief that only he can perform an ancient ritual that will allow her to communicate with the dead. The incantation is not without danger or physical and mental consequences. Locked away in a remote country house, the duo prepare to face the great unknown.

Pioneer / Director Liam Gavin Cast Steve Oram, Catherine Walker, Susan Loughnane
Ireland / UK 2016, 1h39m, N/C 15+ Thanks to Kaleidoscope

Free in Deed

GFT / Fri 17 (20.30) & Sat 18 Feb (13.00)
Nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards, Free in Deed is a searing drama inspired by true events. Filmed amidst the storefront churches that thrive in Memphis, the film explores the way that faith becomes the last refuge of hope in a society that abandons the disadvantaged. Single mother Melva (Edwina Findley) is struggling to cope with the wild, unruly behaviour of her son Benny. The medical profession only offer pills but a local Pentecostal church becomes a source of comfort as she is drawn to Abe (David Harewood), who is said to possess a healing touch.

Pioneer / Director Jake Mahaffy Cast David Harewood, Edwina Findley, Kathy Smith
USA / New Zealand 2015, 1h40m, N/C 15+ Thanks to Stray Dogs

The Giant (Jätten)

CCA / Tue 21 (18.30) & Wed 22 Feb (15.45)
A plaintive, tenderly felt debut feature, The Giant tells the haunting story of Rikard (Christian Andren), a severely deformed Swedish man with autism. Surrounded by friends and carers, Rikard confronts daily challenges but is also sustained by a rich inner life in which he imagines himself as a giant bounding across landscapes that would do Peter Jackson proud. In the real world, Rikard has a passion for pétanque and sets his sights on winning the Scandinavian Championships and reuniting with his estranged mother. An inventive, one-of-a-kind fable.

Pioneer / Director Johannes Nyholm Cast Christian Andren, Johan Kylen, Anna Bjelkerud
Sweden / Denmark 2016, 1h30m, Swedish with English subtitles, N/C 12+ Thanks to Indie Sales


GFT / Thu 23 (20.45) & Fri 24 Feb (15.30)
The debut feature from Ben Caird offers some pointed reflections on America’s broken justice system. Byron Smith (Quinton Aaron from Oscar-winner The Blind Side) is one of the lucky ones. On release from prison he is offered a job working on a struggling family farm in Wisconsin. He is the only black man in a white heartland. As he struggles to adjust to a world far beyond his comfort zone and a family riven with problems, outsider Byron is faced with stark choices if he is to remain on the straight and narrow. An involving, smartly observed drama that puts a human face to a national crisis.

Pioneer / Director Ben Caird Cast Quinton Aaron, Amy Pietz, Jeffrey De Munn
USA 2016, 1h43m, N/C 12+Thanks to JP International/Film Sales Company

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Hymyilevä Mies)

Cineworld / Sat 25 (20.30) & Sun 26 Feb (13.00)
Finland’s feel-good Oscar contender has been hailed as the anti-Rocky for its charming salute to modest, unassuming boxer Olli Mäki (Jarkko Lahti). Juho Kousmanen’s award-winning debut feature lovingly evokes the feel of the 1960s by shooting on stunning 16mm, black and white film. In 1962, Mäki carried the hopes of the nation as he trained for a Helsinki showdown with American Davey Moore, the bantamweight champion of the world. Mäki is feeling the pressure, a situation only exacerbated by his growing romance with Raija (Oona Airola). What price is glory, when love decides to pay a call?

Pioneer / Director Juho Kuosmanen Cast Jarkko Lahti, Oona Airola, Eero Milonoff
Finland / Sweden / Germany 2016, 1h32m, Finnish with English subtitles, N/C 12+ Thanks to MUBI

Hello, My Name Is Doris

Cineworld / Fri 17 (20.30) & Sat 18 Feb (13.00)
Double Oscar-winner Sally Field gives an effortlessly charming performance in this warm-hearted tale of an older woman discovering that it is never too late to seize the day. Doris (Field) has spent her life working, caring for her elderly mother and rarely thinking of herself. When her mother dies, Doris heeds the advice of a motivational guru and decides to “live a little”. Doris sets her sights on young, handsome design executive John (Max Greenfield), but can she find common ground and catch his eye? A wry, poignant tale of growing older and feeling younger, with a star turn from Field.

Pioneer / Director Michael Showalter Cast Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly
USA 2015, 1h26m, N/C 15+ Thanks to Sony / Park Circus

In Between (Bar Bahar)

GFT / Fri 24 (18.00) & Sat 25 Feb (13.15)
Maysaloun Hamoud’s elegant and sensitive story of three Palestinian women trying to find their way in Tel Aviv is a beautifully acted film on the pressures of living in a patriarchal society. Lalia and Salma work hard and play hard, filling their free time with dancing, drinking and DJing, but feel their style is cramped when quiet, studious Nur comes to stay with them. Each of them is looking for love but, as young Palestinan women, finding a relationship on their own terms is difficult. However, it’s this common ground that brings them together in this debut tour-de-force.

Pioneer / Director Maysaloun Hamoud Cast Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura
Israel / France 2016, 1h36m, Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Alma Cinema

In the Radiant City

GFT / Sun 19 (13.15) & Mon 20 Feb (11.00)
Rachel Lambert proves herself a talent to watch with this brooding, atmospheric first feature, produced by Jeff Nichols. Andrew (Michael Abbott Jr) drifts back to his hometown in Kentucky but is wary of any contact with his family. Everything seems too painful, any confrontation fraught with misunderstanding. His sister Laura (Marin Ireland) resents his return and blames him for all the suffering his family has endured. Discovering what lies at the heart of this broken family is the basis of a haunting, small-town drama in which the truth might be the one thing to set them all free.

Pioneer / Director Rachel Lambert Cast Michael Abbott Jr, Marin Ireland, Paul Sparks
USA 2016, 1h35m, N/C 15+ Thanks to Distiller Films

Katie Says Goodbye

CCA / Fri 17 (20.30) & Sat 18 Feb (11.15)
Olivia Cooke gives a luminous, star-making performance in this plaintive heartbreaker from director Wayne Roberts. Cooke plays Katie, a young woman who shows a sunny resilience in the face of endless adversity. Determined to leave her feckless mother and dusty New Mexico home for the promise of a new life in San Francisco, Katie has turned to prostitution. She may have met her Prince Charming in ex-con mechanic Bruno (Christopher Abbott). Trusting, recklessly romantic and impossibly naive, Katie is constantly poised on the edge of tragedy in a film that grows increasingly poignant.

Pioneer / Director Wayne Roberts Cast Olivia Cooke, Mary Steenburgen, Christopher Abbott
USA 2016, 1h28m, N/C 15+ Thanks to Cercamon

Lipstick Under My Burkha

GFT / Fri 24 (20.15) & Sat 25 Feb (11.00)
Lipstick Under My Burkha tells the stories of four Indian women seeking more from life than docile domesticity. Young mother Shirin feels she must hide her professional success from her husband. Ambitious beautician Leela takes the lead with her Muslim boyfriend even as her family arranges her marriage to a nice Hindi boy. College girl Rehana is the Cinderella figure of the quartet whilst the older, irrepressible Auntie Usha sets her sights on a hunky swimming instructor. All of them are freedom fighters against a deeply patriarchal society in this colourful and wildly engaging production.

Pioneer / Director Alankrita Shrivastava Cast Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra
India 2016, 1h56m, Hindi with English subtitles, N/C 12+ Thanks to M-Appeal

Love and Fury (Syysprinssi)

CCA / Fri 17 (20.45) & Sat 18 Feb (11.00)
Based on Anja Kauranen-Snellman’s best-selling book Syysprinssi (Autumn Prince), Love and Fury depicts love at its most vibrant, wild and heartbreaking. Surrounded by rebellion and change in 1980s Helsinki, two writers fall into a passionate love affair, which acts as a creative catalyst for Inka (Laura Birn) but potentially leads to Juhana’s (Lauri Tilkanen) weakened grip on reality. A furious and beautiful romantic drama with incredible performances from the two leads, Love and Fury is a film for anyone who has ever felt the rapture of love and loss.

Pioneer / Director Alli Haapasalo Cast Laura Birn, Lauri Tilkanen, Paula Vesala
Finland 2016, 1h34m, Finnish with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Solar Films


GFT / Tue 21 (20.25) & Wed 22 Feb (11.00)
Swiss director Michael Koch’s striking debut couldn’t be more urgent or relevant to the mood of modern Europe. Marija (Margarita Breitkreiz) is a vulnerable Ukrainian migrant worker in Dortmund. She projects an aura of strength, determination and resolve. She knows what she wants but first she has to make money, steer clear of the law and avoid the exploitation that seems parfor- the-course if you are a single woman. Breitkreiz will win your heart with her steely, implacable performance as an outsider struggling to claim her place in Europe’s promised land.

Pioneer / Director Michael Koch Cast Margarita Breitkreiz, Georg Friedrich, Sahin Eryilmaz
Switzerland / Germany 2016, 1h40m, German, Ukrainian and Turkish with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Luxbox Films


CCA / Sat 25 (11.00) & Sun 26 Feb (15.45)
There’s a sense of familiarity running through Mimosas, thanks in part to aspects of the filmmaking being incorporated into Ben Rivers’ film-within-a-film The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (GFF16). However, Oliver Laxe’s second feature is a wholly original and hypnotic journey through faith in the Middle East. A minimalist ‘Eastern Western’ following a caravan transporting a dead sheik back to his medieval city, Mimosas won the Grand Prize at Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique.

Pioneer / Director Oliver Laxe Cast Ahmed Hammoud, Shakib Ben Omar, Abdelatif Hwidar
Morocco / Spain 2016, 1h35, Arabic with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Luxbox

Tomato Red

GFT / Fri 24 Feb (20.30)
Ex-con drifter Sammy Barlach is searching from town to town in the Ozarks looking for his next cold beer and a home for the night when he meets siblings Jamalee and Jason Merridew, and an unlikely bond is formed. Flame-haired Jamalee just wants to get out of her small town life, dreaming of the tuxedos and palm trees of Hollywood whilst her younger brother Jason is the object of local obsession, a trait that Jamalee sees as a ticket of out of town. A funny, moving film about the struggle to find a break from the troubles that pursue us whilst searching for somewhere to belong.

Pioneer / Director Juanita Wilson Cast Julia Garner, Jake Weary, Anna Friel
Ireland/Canada 2016, 1h30m, N/C 15+ Thanks to StudioCanal


CCA / Sat 25 (21.00) & Sun 26 Feb (11.15)
On a remote outpost along the US - Mexican border, the lives of three border patrol agents, are forever changed when a routine vehicle inspection goes awry. During the stretches between inspections, the trio talk about movies and women and track footprints in the Chihuahuan Desert. It’s boring, like most days, until the contents of one car point to an insidious plot within their own ranks. What follows is a deadly cat and mouse chase that questions the morals and ethics of each agent. Greg Kwedar’s debut feature is a beautifully shot, lean and atmospheric thriller that addresses border politics.

Pioneer / Director Greg Kwedar Cast Johnny Simmons, Gabriel Luna, Clifton Collins Jr
USA 2016, 1h27m, Mayan / Spanish with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to StudioCanal

Without Name

GFT / Sat 18 (23.15) & Thu 23 Feb (23.00)
Grappling with a fractured marriage and a distant son, land surveyor Eric takes a job looking at a plot of land within a deep and dense forest, relishing the opportunity to get away from his troubles. However, the secrets of the dark woodlands surrounding him begin to play with his mind, pushing him into a disturbed state and planting unmentionable fears within his fragile psyche. Renowned short film director Lorcan Finnegan makes his feature debut, full of eerie atmospherics and existential dread, coupled with purposefully slow burning terror. His depiction of mother nature in revolt against those who threaten her makes for one of the greatest terrors of the year.

Pioneer / Director Lorcan Finnegan Cast Alan McKenna, Niamh Algar, James Browne
Ireland 2016, 1h33m, N/C 15+ Thanks to StudioCanal

Zoology (Zoologiya)

CCA / Thu 23 (20.45) & Fri 24 Feb (13.00)
A life of quiet desperation is transformed into something much less ordinary in this captivating contemporary fairytale from Class Corrections director Ivan Tverdovsky. Natasha (Natalia Pavlenkova) works at a zoo and has more friends amongst the animals than amongst her vile colleagues. When she starts to grow a tail, it is the best thing that has ever happened to her. She becomes confident and outgoing, attracting the attention of younger doctor Petya (Dmitri Groshev), but there are hefty consequences of standing out from the crowd in Putin’s Russia. A plaintive, thought-provoking work.

Pioneer / Director Ivan Tverdovsky Cast Natalia Pavlenkova, Dmitri Groshev, Irina Chipizhenko
Russia / France / Germany 2016, 1h27m, Russian with English subtitles, N/C 15+ Thanks to Arrow Films

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