In Conversation with Ben Taylor, Glasgow Film Festival, 17-28 February

Glasgow Film Festival launches its 12th annual programme tomorrow with the UK premiere of the Coen brothers’ latest feature, Hail, Caesar!. Running until 28 February, this innovative and audience-focused festival boasts a dynamic line-up of international film screenings, alongside its trademark pop-up cinema events taking place across the city of Glasgow. This year’s GFF will feature a total of 174 films and 308 events, and is also set to host the UK premiere of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Oscar-nominated Anomalisa at its Closing Ceremony. We speak to Ben Taylor, Festival and Industry Coordinator, about GFF16’s screening highlights and new industry-geared section, Industry Focus, as well as the return of the popular Audience Award.

ASFF: Glasgow Film Festival returns to the vibrant Scottish city on this February. What can visitors expect from the programme this year?
BT: It’s another heady mix of art house and mainstream, high brow and low brow, cinematic pioneers from across the globe, and Nicholas Cage. We’re really excited to be bringing an eclectic and vibrant programme of films, events and talks to Glasgow. We’ve never labelled ourselves as a certain type of festival; we just want to show an exciting range of films that we love and hope that other people will too. If it’s big classics you’re after, then we’ve got the events strand and our Anniversaries at IMAX strand featuring Top Gun, Aliens and Carrie, but if you’re wanting something different we’ve shone a spotlight on Argentinian cinema, while our Window on the World strand explores filmmaking across the globe and the Local Heroes selection focuses on the best new films from the UK.

ASFF: A range industry focused talks will take place throughout the run of the festival. Can you name some of the highlights and guest speakers attending?
BT: Industry Focus is our first dip in to events programmed directly for filmmakers. We’ve had 12 years of showing amazing films, but now we want to help creatives to get their films made. Day one features a series of talks and panels focusing on issues that we think will be insightful and useful, whether you’re new to filmmaking or a film veteran. We’re talking topics like how to successfully adapt novels with Lila Rawlings, Executive Producer at Left Bank Pictures, a focus on Vimeo’s curation strategy with their Director of Curation, Jordan McGarry, and we’ve got James King from Curzon Film World discussing the success of 45 Years on VOD and what it may signify for film consumption progressing forward. Day two is comprised of a series panels from funders including BFI, Film 4, BBC Films, Danish Film Institute, Irish Film Board, Creative Europe and many more. We’ve also got the Behind the Scenes strand; daily free panels focusing on the craft of filmmaking and featuring some amazing speakers covering casting, make-up and low budget filmmaking amongst other topics.

ASFF: Throughout the week there will also be a variety of themed events taking place in some of Glasgow’s most iconic venues. What does this add to the overall film festival experience?
BT: The events are Glasgow’s USP! Before I moved to Glasgow I’d look at the events and think ‘oh man, they look so cool!’ and this year is no different. Raiders of the Lost Ark at Kelvingrove Museum, Thelma and Louise at Grand Ole Opry, and the top secret Con Air screening are all things that I can’t wait to see. The events are an unforgettable celebration of film and sum up what Glasgow Film Festival is all about.

ASFF: Are you looking forward to any particular screenings or works by specific directors?
BT: Hail, Caesar! and Anomalisa are the big hitters, but I’ve got my eye on Dheepan from the great Jacques Audiard, Oscar-nominated Foreign Language Film Mustang, and Chevalier, which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. What I’m really looking forward to seeing is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on the big screen, which is easily one of my favourite films ever.

ASFF: Glasgow Film Festival welcomes back the Audience Award after its successful debut in 2015. Why is the award an important part of the festival, and how does it encourage audience interaction?
BT: The Audience Award went down so well last year so we’re really glad to be bringing it back. Glasgow Film Festival and Glasgow Film Theatre as a whole is all about our audience and the people of Glasgow, so to have an award that they vote on is the natural thing to have. We want the audience to take ownership of the festival, to feel involved in it, and this is a way for them to celebrate their favourite film from the festival.

Glasgow Film Festival, 17-28 February, various venues across Glasgow.

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1. Still from Hail, Caesar!