As the 2016 Glasgow Film Festival comes to a close with the UK premiere of Anomalisa, the Oscar-nominated animation by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, organisers are delighted to announce that this year has been their most successful to date. While final numbers are still being confirmed, the festival, which is supported by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Creative Scotland, EventScotland and the BFI, had already recorded over 42,000 admissions, the largest number ever.
The festival directors credited the appeal of high-profile films like Hail, Caesar! by the Coen brothers, the UK premiere of which opened the festival, and High-Rise by Ben Wheatley. Major guests like Richard Gere, in Glasgow today (28 February, 2016) at the UK premiere of his film Time Out Of Mind, were a further attraction. There was also an overwhelming response to the wide-ranging special events programme GFF pays tribute to the festival audience.
Following enormous success last year, 2016 marked the return of GFF’s Audience Award, which this year was sponsored by Scottish Power. Ten films by debut and sophomore directors were in competition, with the winner decided by the festival audience, in keeping with GFF’s identity as an audience-focused festival.
As announced at the festival’s Closing Gala, the winner of the 2016 Audience Award is Mustang, a rousing and poignant debut from French-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. The recent winner of four César Awards and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards tonight, Mustang follows five sisters held captive by their uncle and depicts the way female sexuality becomes a challenge in a strict society. Playful teenage rebellion becomes a fight for survival as the girls face a family determined to mould them into compliant young women and potential wives. Over 1400 votes were cast. The Audience Award runner-up was gripping documentary 16 Years Till Summer, directed by Lou McLoughlan. The 2015 winner, Radiator, written and directed by Tom Browne, was picked up for distribution by Picturehouse not long after its win.
Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter said:
“I am thrilled that our second Audience Award has been won by Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s unforgettable debut feature Mustang. This story, of five orphan sisters fighting for a sense of freedom in a society that seems intent on oppressing them is truly outstanding and marks the arrival of a world-class filmmaker. It is another great choice from an audience that has a passion for outstanding world cinema, and huge thanks to Scottish Power for sponsoring this most democratic of awards.”
Bookended by two major UK premieres and studded with starry appearances from Richard Gere, Shirley Henderson, Kate Dickie, Ben Wheatley, Roland Moller, Hannah Murray and Vic Armstrong, the twelfth annual Glasgow Film Festival ran from 17-28 February 2016. This year the festival fielded sixty UK premieres, established its presence across the city with a different special event in an iconic city venue every night (from the first-ever feature film screening at Glasgow’s legendary Barrowland Ballroom to a tribute to David Bowie at the Glasgow Planetarium), and debuted its first Industry Focus strand: two days of discussions, presentations and workshops aimed at filmmakers at all stages of their careers, with speakers from across Europe.
The festival worked with a number of new venues this year, from the aforementioned Barrowland Ballroom and Planetarium, St Luke’s, and The Experience, where the in-house plane fuselage proved a perfect surprise venue for an interactive Con Air screening.
Almost all of the nightly special events were completely sold out; tickets for the screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, introduced by Harrison Ford’s stuntman Vic Armstrong, sold out in under 24 hours, while tickets for the Opening Gala screening of Hail, Caesar! by the Coen brothers sold out in 23 minutes.
The ever-popular surprise film screening this year was the eagerly-awaited Love and Friendship, by cult director Whit Stillman, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, fresh from its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January.
Despite the lack of a second major cinema partner for the second year running, the festival managed to reach over 42,000 admissions even before final numbers had been counted at the time of going to press, with an 11% overall audience increase per performance. Final numbers will be confirmed later in the week. The highest admissions number previously recorded was 41,151 in 2014. The week of Friday 19th – Thursday 25th February also saw the highest-ever footfall in GFT history since the cinema opened in 1974.
Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allison Gardner said:
“Our team are absolutely delighted to have completed our most successful year yet, and it’s all thanks to our wonderful audiences. From handcuffing themselves onto a prison bus for a secret screening of Con Air, line dancing at Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry ahead of a screening of Thelma & Louise and creating ornate fancy-dress for our glitzy take on the masked ball in Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet, right down to the intense off-and online discussions provoked by almost every film in this year’s programme, time and time again our audience prove themselves to be a vastly diverse and incredibly enthusiastic bunch of people who really love film. It’s also been very heartening to have had such a great response to our first-ever Industry Focus programme, tickets for which sold out, further establishing Glasgow as a Festival for film lovers and aspiring film makers.”