Cinematic Expression

Glasgow Short Film Festival (GSFF) champions new film talent by providing a showcase and meeting point for new and established Scottish and international filmmakers, industry delegates and local audiences. Running between 15-19 March, this year’s edition will celebrate diverse forms of cinematic expression and present ground-breaking work that transgresses the boundaries of conventional narrative film. Marking its 10th anniversary is a special opening programme of nine shorts handpicked from each previous edition of GSFF.

This exclusive selection features films from across the festival’s history, and goes beyond its award winners and more obvious choices.Included in the screening is Jamie Travis’s The Saddest Boy in the World (2006), a film that follows Timothy Higgins and his experiences of friendlessness, suburban complacency and prescription drugs; Symphony No 42 (2013) by Réka Bucsi, which features 47 observations on the irrational connections between humans and nature; and Johannes Nyholm’s Las Palmas (2011), where a middle-aged lady on holiday in the sun tries to make new friends and have a good time.

A one-off screening of John Jeremy’s rarely seen Jazz is Our Religion (1972) will be held on 18 March. Drawing heavily on the photography of Val Wilmer and the poetry of Langston Hughes and Ted Joans, the film has been described as one of the very few total jazz movies ever made. Featuring narration by Joans, Rashied Ali and Dizzy Gillespie and music by Charlie Parker, Lol Coxhill and many of the greats, Jeremy’s film brilliantly captures the essence of a musical form spanning several generations. The showing will be accompanied by Louis van Gasteren’s short Jazz and Poetry (1964) and a reading by Jim Carruth, Glasgow’s 2014 poet laureate.

Elsewhere, the festival considers narratives and themes from the present day with Reflections on Sovereignty 1: Citizens of Nowhere. In the month in which the British government is expected to invoke Article 50 and commence EU exit negotiations, GSFF takes a wider view, considering notions of nationhood and borders both physical and cultural. It invites curators from imagineNATIVE and Dokufest to propose programmes of short films exploring sovereignty. GSFF’s own programme examines Scottish and British identity in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Chicago-based artist Deborah Stratman also brings her latest work to Glasgow on 19 March. The Illinois Parables is an hour-long experimental documentary, spanning over 1,000 years of history in the Midwestern state, and considering the role of faith and belief in forming ideologies and American identity. Shot in 16mm, the film captures the history of violence, resistance and exodus inscribed in an apparently unremarkable landscape. The Illinois Parables screens alongside Deborah’s previous work Hacked Circuit (2014), and will be followed by a conversation between Deborah and Glasgow-based artist Stina Wirfelt.

The festival will close on 19 March with the Award Winners event, a first chance to catch the prize-winning films of GSFF 2017. Here, the organisers will announce and screen the recipients of the jury awards for Scottish and International short film, as well as the films voted the favourite of the audience in each competition.

Glasgow Short Film Festival, 15-19 March, Glasgow Film Theatre.

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1. Still from Jazz is Our Religion (1972).