Guillermo del Toro: A Brief Retrospective

When considering Guillermo Del Toro’s work, mythical creatures, terrifying monsters, and of getting lost in a wonderful world of his creation for a couple of hours seem typical statements of his work. So when I saw the trailer for his new piece Pacific Rim, I couldn’t help but think that it was a little out of keeping with his style of storytelling. If we look back over some of his most influential and successful works however, and make a point of looking past his distinctive stylistic vision and storytelling technique, it soon becomes evident that, thematically, Pacific Rim is simply an extension of an ever present subject matter. In each of his works, Del Toro questions what it means to be human, the tolerability of immortality, and the causes of monstrosity. Questions which, judging by the trailers, will be at the forefront of his latest offering. In preparation for the release of this action packed instalment on July 12th, we look back over some of his pervious works, and follow his thematic journey through cinema.

Del Toro’s 1993 offering, Cronos, is a constant blur between the line of humanity and immortality, with the essential mythical monster thrown in for good measure. It questions when, if ever, is immortality the answer? If you had the choice between a normal life of aging then death, dying of a terminal illness, or immortality with a number unknown side effects and restrictions, what would you choose? The story focuses in on the protagonist, Jesus, and what his state of being is. He remains convinced throughout that he is in control of his actions, particularly his use of the Cronos device. A device which prolongs the user’s life, making them feel, and even appear more youthful, but at the price of becoming slave to its use. Even after his death, and resurrection, Jesus remains convinced of his humanity. It takes the slow realisation that his new lifestyle of nocturnalism, blood draining, and consumption, is in fact completely inhuman, for him to become aware of his current state. His personal battle with what it means to be human (love, family, freedom) brings about his demise. Upon the realisation that he can no longer experience these simple pleasures, and in turn, can no longer be called human, he sacrifices himself, and consequently, saves his daughter from death. His last act of compassion and humanity.

2004’s Hellboy, and 2008’s Hellboy II pose similar questions about humanity, immortality, and monstrosity, again questioning when, if ever, is immortality the answer? And what defines a character as monstrous? In these films however, Del Toro explores these questions from the point of view of what would traditionally be labelled as monsters, changing the expectations of his audience, and forcing us to examine the possibility that often we, as humans, are the monsters. Following the story of Hellboy (literally a creature from Hell found on earth), we see how this ‘monster’ works with both humans and other fantastical creatures in the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, in order to keep the world, and in particular the human race, safe from members of the occult. In both films, humans are at the source of all the problems, as they attempt to gain more power, achieve immortality, and rule the world and all its races for all eternity. In these films, Del Toro proves it is possible to be human without being humane. Monsters can come in all shapes and sizes, but it is often those who seem the least monstrous that prove to be the most nefarious.

 

In 2006, Del Toro brought us the world of Pan’s Labyrinth. A visually striking film filled with fairies, fauns and fantasy. The piece is set between two contrasting worlds. The world we know, and the world of Princess Moanna. Princess of the underworld. Set during post Civil War Spain, we are instantly given cause to question what it means to be human, as we witness the emotionless Falange Soldiers, in particular Captain Vidal, kill, maim, and torture for both information and entertainment. How can these beings be called human when they treat others with such disdain? How can one inflict so much physical and mental pain upon others without causing suffering to themselves? This is truly the behaviour of a monster. However, monstrous traits are also displayed by the mythical creatures of the film. The faun, who appears initially as a guide and mentor, abandons the protagonist, Ofelia, when she fails to carry out her assigned task to the letter, and even attempts to convince Ofelia to sacrifice her baby brother. Hardly the behaviour of the righteous. Del Toro demonstrates how circumstance can play a huge part in behaviour patterns. Cause and consequence. Beings react to their situations and the way those around them react. Had there been no civil war, perhaps the soldiers would not have become such violent beasts. Had Ofelia not angered the faun, she may not have suffered in solitude. Monsters do not simply come into being, they are created by circumstance. A creature is not a monster for having horns and hoofs, but for using them to inflict pain on others.

So what can we expect from Pacific Rim? Evidently, plenty of strong men, big machines and battle scenes, but what of the story behind the visuals. The trailer itself states “In order to fight monsters, we created monsters of our own”. I am confident that Del Toro will present us with many more interpretations of what defines humanity, monstrosity, and immortality, and prove that he can work with any genre of film, and make it his own.

 

 

Jenni Wright

 

Pacific Rim is now showing at the Grosvenor Cinema. Click here to book your tickets.

Fraser McFadzean’s Alternative Movie Posters II

Fraser McFadzean -the Grosvenor Cinema’s very own poster boy- gives us a second installment of his second looks at movie paraphernalia for upcoming talkies which will be coming to the Grosvenor Cinema.

One of Scotland's cult classics. Having very rarely seen the sun, Scots tend to eulogize about seaside holidays without any reference to the fictional nature of Ferness.

One of Scotland’s cult classics. Having very rarely seen the sun, Scots tend to eulogize about seaside holidays without any reference to the fictional nature of Ferness

Anyone who has seen the awesome trailer of 'Man of Steel' will instantly recognize this minimalist take on the flight of  the Man of Steel. The steely blue, matte colours only add to it

Anyone who has seen the awesome trailer of ‘Man of Steel’ will instantly recognize this minimalist take on the flight of the Man of Steel. The steely blue, matte colours only add to it

The movie is about Alan, right? It's always been about Alan. And so Fraser has immortalized this fact with the bearded- wolf himself.

The movie is about Alan, right? It’s always been about Alan. And so Fraser has immortalized this fact with the bearded- wolf himself.

Tom Cruise oozes the Eighties: so does this neon-drenched poster for the Grosvenor Cinema's upcoming 'Cocktails and Dreams' night

Tom Cruise oozes the Eighties: so does this neon-drenched poster for the Grosvenor Cinema’s upcoming ‘Cocktails and Dreams’ night

 

All artwork courtesy of Fraser McFadzean

Review: I’m So Excited

I’m So Excited! is the story of passengers on flight 2459 to Mexico City dealing with the news of technical problems and an inevitable emergency landing. Everyone in economy is drugged leaving those in business class to panic before embracing personal breakthroughs and a lot of alcohol.

The film came from Amoldóvar’s imaginings of sexual escapades of stewards and pilots, and how ‘the fantasies of flight are sex and death.’ The constant movement and lack of concrete time in a plane are a place for creativity and letting go. ‘To be excited in Spanish means to be horny’ there is no question of a double meaning here.

 

It is a true return to colourful comedy and came by request of fans in Madrid. The parallels between the story and financial problems in Spain are clear. The plane circles while the passengers know the emergency landing is coming. On board though impending disaster is dealt with through talk, sex and drink, ‘I wanted to turn a catastrophe into a party’ says Amoldóvar. Although comedic, the desperation and resolve is sincere. The essence of human truth may not be revealed, but it is a lot of fun.

Bright colours and flipping fringes come straight from the 80’s, when Amoldóvar started making films and when life in Spain was good. A toast to the time is made with Valencian cocktails and mescaline.

Despite the dramatic sounding setting it is the fast movement and dialogue of the characters that push the pace of the film. Wanting to work with actors was the reason that Amoldóvar became a director. He acknowledges the crucial role of lighting, photography and sound in narration, but the story is told through the ‘bodies, hearts and guts’ of the actors. Every limb and organ is used here. Javier Cámara sweeps through as the loose lipped head steward balancing between personal hurt and showmanship. Also excellent is Lola Dueñas as Bruna the virginal psychic looking for some drug lords in Mexico who ‘sounded lovely on the phone’.

It’s filthy verging close to crude at times. The outrageously camp stewards perform a full-length choreographed dance routine (you can probably guess to which song), but when entering into an Amoldóvar film that’s sort of what you sign up for. Speedy backstories and solid comedic timing make for a grown-up but easy watch. In order to enjoy. Relax, just do it.

Naomi Walmsley

I’m So Excited will be showing in the Grosvenor Cinema from Friday 3 May. Click here for more information.

‘In the unexcpetional lies the extraordinary’: A Pedro Almodóvar Retrospective

Pedro Almodóvar: A visionary. One of the few Spanish-language filmmakers to have experienced such international acclaim and success, and quite rightly in my opinion. For a man with a wealth of successful film credits to his name, his own production company, and countless awards on his shelves (including an academy award) what is the next step? Having built his name on his distinctive style, inspired by melodrama, pop culture, strong colours and vibrant women, Almodóvar returns to his roots, as he brings us the quick witted, light hearted comedy I’m So Excited (Los Amantes Pasajeros). In the lead up to it’s UK release on May 3rd, we look back over Almodóvar‘s cinematic journey and discover what has made him such a prolific name in contemporary international cinema.

Right from the beginning, with his 1988 breakthrough feature length, Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al Borde deun Ataque de Nervios), it is clear that Almodóvar has a strong sense of style. The bold colours, sweeping camera movements, and sharp cuts, which have become such staples of his work, are all incorporated in abundance. Yet despite this strong identity of mise en scene, Almodóvar ensures that the themes of the film are accessible to everyone. Ok, so maybe the majority of us have not been a voice over artist who has fallen for a married man, whose wife has spent time in a mental institution, whilst our best friend has been held hostage by terrorists, but we can all relate to the general scenarios. A time when our love life is not going the way we thought. When a friend has been in need of help. Or when we simply have our priorities in the wrong place. Almodóvar’s creative choices, stylistically, and story wise, enable him to take such everyday scenarios and makes them incredible, therefore creating an audience for the unexceptional, wherein lies the extraordinary.

In creating such scenarios from the unremarkable, Almodóvar empowers his characters to be decisive, act upon their situations, and drive the story forward. This type of character is another of his signature characteristics. The strong, decisive, leading lady. It is evident, even from his early works, that the females are the focus, and driving force behind the narratives, such as Pepa from the afore mentioned Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Talk to Her’s Lydia.

It is 2006’s Volver, however, which truly exhibits this, as not only is the film led by the headstrong Raimunda, but she is surrounded by an almost entire cast of unfaltering women. Initially, Raimunda, played by Penelope Cruz, seems uncharacteristically subdued due to the wealth of strong females around her. However, upon the murder of her husband Paco, the only male to impact upon the story (even if he is nothing more than a narrative device), she takes decisive action to do something with her life, changing the course of not only her own life, but everyone’s around her. A sort of ripple effect if you will. Being the leading lady of her family, the absence of Raimunda’s leadership directly impacts the family unit, as her sister, daughter, and eventually mother are forced to take action in their own lives. Which brings us to the final staple of Almodóvar’s work. The importance of the family unit.

Most of Almodóvar’s works are centred around one family, with the storyline being directly affected by the state of that family. This is why we rarely see a complete family unit (or the nuclear family) within his works, as we would only have one simple narrative to follow, lacking in depth, intrigue and suspense. Almodóvar’s 2011 offering The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito) is anything but simple however.

Here, we uncharacteristically follow the story of the man of the family, Antonio Bandaras’ Robert, as he attempts to cope with the loss of his wife and daughter. With the family unit in desolation, the storyline becomes disjointed and non-linear, relying on multiple flashbacks in order divulge the full story. Not a typical narrative technique of Almodóvar, he adapts his stylistic choices in order to suit. The film is stripped of colour, reflecting the tone of the piece, and the usual quick fire dialogue is replaced with long, often uncomfortable silences in the absence of people to converse with. And of course the usual strong, empowered women are missing, causing the world of the man to collapse around him, resulting in his ultimate demise.

With The Skin I Live In taking such a different tact from Almodóvar’s previous works, it will be interesting to see what I’m So Excited will present us with. Whether Almodóvar continues to explore and pursue a new style, or return to ‘tradition’ and his much traversed stylistic identifiers , one thing can be said with prophetic confidence: we can expect a visual spectacle with laughs, some tears, and a great deal of entertainment.

Jenni Wright

I’M SO EXCITED! UK Gala Launch Screening followed by a Satellite Q&A with Pedro Almodóvar Live from Hackney Picturehouse will be hosted by the Grosvenor Cinema on Tuesday 23 April. Tickets for the evening can be purchased here.

almo

 

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

In twentieth-century literature, Roald Dahl is the most influential, exciting and beloved of children’s authors, whose back catalogue has enthralled generations of children and spawned a long selection of film adaptations – some certainly better than others. Our faces still stained with chocolate from the eggs we’ve indulged in, the best post-Easter solution for aching tummies is more sweetie goodness. With kids off school for a fortnight and parents looking for the perfect way to keep everybody happy, maybe the Grosvenor Cinema and Grosvenor Café have the solution with a delicious, special showing of the delightful 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Friday 12th April.

The special screening at the Grosvenor Cinema is part of the ‘Grosvenor and the Chocolate Factory’. This spectacular way to round off the Grosvenor’s ‘Family Easter’ includes the Grosvenor Cinema’s screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  before trekking up the soda-stream steps so that little kids and big ones too can enjoy  hand-crafted peanut butter fudge lollies, blueberry gobstoppers, real fizzy lifting juice, chocolate teacups and passion fruit tea all -not to mention the crowning glory: a 10-foot chocolate river complete with marshmallow boats! – all ingeniously prepared by the kitchen-boffins and chocolatiers of the Grosvenor Cafe.

Willy Wonka title

The film follows young, innocent, poor little Charlie Bucket, who lives with his mother and four bed-bound grandparents in an awful one-room home. Meanwhile, the world is coming together in excitement as the famous Wonka Chocolate Factory promises to open its doors for the first time in years to five lucky competition winners. Charlie’s family can only afford one chocolate bar a year, so he thinks he’s out of luck, but when he finds the final ticket he, along with four far nastier spoiled children, enter a wonderland and come face to face with the owner Willy Wonka himself. The film follows the five children in their adventure round the factory and the exciting inventions that await them.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Gene Wilder as the enigmatic Willy Wonka is the centre piece of the film. He doesn’t appear in person during the first half, but still maintains a presence through the awestruck stories of the townspeople, such as in the opening song, “The Candy Man”, in which Aubrey Woods‘ candy shop owner describes Wonka with powers to make dreams come true through his confectionary. When he finally does appear, about to begin the children’s tour of the factory, Wonka limps slowly forward towards the gate, leaning on a cane. The massive crowd outside who have been cheering all fall silent at the sight of the mystery. There are no fireworks, no musical cue, and not even eye contact, and the disappointment ripples through the onlookers right down to the audience in their seats. Then suddenly, with no wink or nod to warn us, Wonka starts to fall forward before effortlessly moving into a roll and landing straight back on his feet. With a smile to confirm the ruse, the crowd erupt into cheers and the viewer is left excited and unsure of what awaits them with this tricky tour guide. The execution of this moment makes the scene iconic and sets up the tour and character brilliantly.

Wonka’s dream-weaver image is shattered by Wilder’s portrayal of a sometimes apathetic, sometimes mischievous, often sarcastic businessman, who cares only for flamboyant stunts and his precious factory. He relishes in stirring disputes between the children and their parents and is disarmingly disrespectful to the adults on the tour. When the children decide to disobey, he doesn’t try and stop them sincerely, preferring to wait for their always-poetic punishments. There is an assuredness that things are going to sort themselves out, that he does not need to intervene, and that he holds no responsibility for the winner’s actions. He remains calm throughout the film and only raises his temper when his factory is negatively affected. It shows where his priorities lie and makes for a performance that only gets better with age as you re-watch and notice all his eye rolls, cane swinging and comebacks that will have gone over your head as a youngster.

Gene Wilder plays the part perfectly. He throws in tiny details throughout that keep your eyes on him which, given some of the sets, is an incredible feat. There aren’t many people who could be both a clearly flawed human yet someone you are drawn to and actually want to side with in anticipating what will happen to the next awful visitor.

OompaLoompa box

The songs throughout the film play second-fiddle to Willy Wonka but are by no means far behind. The film opens with “The Candy Man” which charms all listeners and stands incredibly well as a tune outside the context of the film. Wonka’s dreamlike “Pure Imagination” in the candy garden scene twinkles beautifully, especially in contrast to the anarchic, greedy behaviour of the children during it. The “(I’ve Got A) Golden Ticket” theme is as iconic a victory motif as any other tune. Finally, there are the hum-worthy, morale-teaching, dry-witted, brilliant, cheeky, badly choreographed Oompa Loompa songs, sung when the children leave the tour one-by-one in appropriately ironic ways.

Violet Beauregarde Blueberry

The dark side to the film keeps it completely in line with Dahl’s own style which was never patronising to children and often relished in pushing expectations. It is comparable to The Wizard of Oz in its child-friendly scares. The frenzy over finding tickets, when Charlie is crowded by greedy adults when he finds his ticket and when tickets are faked by grown men hints at the worrying grasp of consumerism in the real world. The factory itself is grey and rotting. The gates are locked and only the letters on the side of a smog tower suggests any life inside at all. It is unappealing and barely hints at the magical world that might lie inside, much like Wonka himself. The surprising and twisted endings that each of the ticket holders find themselves victim to are amazingly cruel for being a family film and are all dealt with an incredible amount of flippancy by Willy and the Oompa Loompas. The children, once they exit the film and their parents are escorted from the scene, are never seen again. When asked whether they are alright, Wonka refuses to give a definite answer and it is the ambiguity which is truly terrifying. The most explicitly scary scene in the entire movie is the boat-trip scene. Floating down a tunnel, the scene, which follows directly from the beautiful candy garden, is strange and mind-bending. It’s a claustrophobic scene, in which Wonka chants a sinister song through a poorly-lit tunnel with frightening images of bugs on the walls. The guests’ panic is palpable as the boat speeds up and Wonka, in a trance-like state does nothing to relax them. It’s simultaneously challenging to watch while being too fabulous to look away, but when the lights turn back on Wonka has switched his persona again and is back to being his jolly self.

Willy Wonka Tunnel Gif

The sets hold up remarkably well for being a forty year old film. The physical garden still looks absolutely wonderful, particularly the famously real chocolate river (which apparently spoiled quickly and had to all be thrown out). The design of the Oompa Loompas is flawless. Their matching appearance – green hair, orange faces and white dungarees – is a weird visual, as they are all played by different actors. Even the camera and perception tricks hold up well, such as when Mike Teevee shrinks in the Wonkavision room. The two striking colour palates of the interior of the factory and the world outside provide a contrast which emphasises the fantasy of Wonka’s world.

Whether this is your first time seeing the film, or you haven’t seen it in years, or if this is your chance to introduce a younger relative to one of the most remarkable children’s tales ever created, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the Grosvenor is this spring’s Golden Ticket. Indulge in Gene Wilder’s incredible performance, celebrate as the spoilt brats receive their comeuppance, and bite your fingernails in excitement as the factory gates open for the lucky few. This one-off screening will also give you access to a post-film chocotastic collection of treats upstairs in The Grosvenor Cafe all provided by the local, wonderful, Chocolate Factory. If you thought your chocolate fill for the holiday was over with the end of your eggs, then think again.

 

Paul Faulkner

 

If you enjoyed this you can find Paul talking about movies, weekly news and trailers in depth with a couple of film-loving friends on iTunes at Raptors in the Kitchen.

You can find us:

:On Twitter – @raptorspodcast

:Through Facebook – search ‘Raptors in the Kitchen’

:Over email – Raptorsinthekitchen@gmail.com

 

@BaftaScotland Screening: The Place Beyond the Pines

At what point do an awful series of events begin, and how can they brought to an end? Derek Cianfrance toyed with such questions in his previous feature Blue Valentine – the difficult story of two lovers bound to one another for reasons beyond immediate understanding, despite the intense misery their life together entails. His latest film goes beyond the claustrophobic intensity of a dysfunctional relationship to examine the inevitability of fate and of failed attempts at redemption across a tapestry of tragically connected stories. The Place Beyond the Pines is the story of  a carnival daredevil (Ryan Gosling) whose failed bank robbery leads him to a tragic episode with an idealistic cop (Bradley Cooper), changing the fate of both men, and their families forever.

It is Cianfrance’s genius in Beyond the Pines is to explore, through these intricately and intimately woven stories, the unfolding tragedies that, through human weakness, cannot be confined to a discrete moment in time. As the narrative unfolds the audience is constantly drawn to look closer at the chain of events in perspective, towards the minutiae of the circumstantial and seemingly trivial happenings from the beginning of the movie, that suggest that if things had been different the terrible fate of that befalls the two men – and their sons – could have been avoided.

Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a  nomadic motorcycle daredevil whose work on the carnival circuit brings him into fleeting contact with Romina Gutierrez (Eva Mendes), with whom he has a son, Jason. The new found knowledge of his paternity drives Luke to attempt to provide for all three; first through employment as a mechanic and then through a series of bank robberies inspired by his employer Robin, played ably by Ben Mendelsohn. The bank robberies themselves provide short, spasmodic scenes of intense, dizzying and nauseating action, the speed of helps to portray the fundamental recklessness and impulsiveness of Gosling’s character.

When taken at face value, Gosling’s part in the narrative of Beyond the Pines chimes familiarly with his role in Drive – a mechanic-cum-bank-robber drawn to care for a mother and her child – an it is tempting to make the equation. Yet the character of Glanton is very different to the Meursault-esque character played by Gosling in Drive. Glanton is sociopathic, talkative and highly emotional young man, whose reasons for caring for the welfare of the mother and child are obvious – somewhat the reverse of Gosling’s part as ‘Driver’, despite their obvious similarities.

Bradley Cooper plays Avery Cross, who enters the film during a stand-off with Glanton. Heralded first as a hero, the  idealistic young police officer becomes entangled in the corruption of his fellow officers, only to emerge as someone unrecognisable from his former self, transformed by guilt.

The story then migrates from one generation to the next, focusing on Jason (Dane De Haan), Glanton’s son and the unhappy circumstances which have become his life given what to him are  the unexplained circumstances of his father’s death. This final transition completes the circle as Avery’s wayward son, AJ (Emory Cohen), befriends Jason after arriving

Cianfrance must be credited for managing to hand the plot, like a terrible burden, from character to character through a series of memorable breaks which serve to enrich rather than punctuate the films storyline. In taking pages from the American cinematic playbook – bank jobs, broken homes, car chases, crooked cops and violence – Cianfrance imbues them with an intense realism that accentuates the film’s gritty, somewhat vulgar feel, putting the human suffering that these things cause at the centre of the story, rather than as a peripheral concern.

The emerging director’s penchant for bringing to the surface the regrettable side of human nature can, at times, make   The Place Beyond the Pines uncomfortable to watch, but this is surely a part of its engrossing effect. Trading on themes of catharsis, responsibility and guilt, fate and inevitablity, as well as  masculinity and the role of a father, Cianfrance manages to make a film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. With Ryan Gosling recently announcing an indefinite hiatus from acting it places an imperative on his fans to catch the last glimpse of an actor whose direction is far from certain.

Alan Mahon

The Place Beyond The Pines will be released at the Grosvenor Cinema April 12. For ticket information visit www.grosvenorcinema.co.uk

The Pan-Asia Film Festival 2013

The 6th-17th of March was an exciting time for world cinema fans as the Pan-Asia Film Festival ran for it’s fifth year in London. Organised by festival director Sumatro Ghose, the festival features challenging films which reflect the changing nature of Asia from Iran to Japan. Along with bringing films by both established and young directors to the UK for the first time the festival also features events and Q&A’s with directors and the films’ stars.

Twelve films ran spanning a wide spectrum of genres including comedy, drama and even animation with the best chosen from a short-list of six on March 18th as the winner of the festival’s Best Film Award. While most of the action took place in venues across London there were also special satellite screenings which took place in Glasgow, Brighton and Leeds.

The festival opened with the UK première of Gf*Bf by Taiwanese director Ya-Che Yang followed by premières of  Headshot (Dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand), Poor Folk (dir. Midi Z, Burma), Patang (dir. Prashant Bhargava, India),   The Revolutionary (dirs. Irv Drasnin, Don Sellers, Lucy Ostrander, USA) and the Hong Kong Young Filmmakers Shorts Programme in conjunction with the Fresh Wave Film Festival which also included and international discussion via Google Hangouts. The première which eventually went on to win the PAFF Best Film Award though was 111 Girls by Iranian director Nahid Ghobadi.

Aside from premières the festival also featured a screening of Outrage Beyond, the latest work by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano as well as The Reluctant Fundamentalist (dir. Mira Nair, India), Material (dir. Craig Freimond, South Africa), animated feature The King of Pigs (Yeon Sang-ho) and the festival’s first ever late night screening with Tormented 3D by Japanese director Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge).

There were two films shown at the GFT in Glasgow. The first was Gf*Bf which tells the story of a love triangle between rebellious high school friends Aaron, Mabel and Liam. Aaron likes Mabel, Mabel likes Liam but Liam only has eyes for Aaron. The film spans just over a decade which begins in 1985 Taiwan, during a time of martial law, then through to 1990 and ending in 1997 showing how the relationships between the three friends has held up during a time of political unrest.

The second film was Patang which is set in the Indian city of Ahmedabad and gives viewers an insight into India’s largest kite festival. While the festival sets the backdrop of the film, the storyline revolves around a successful Delhi businessman bringing his daughter back to his home town and being forced to face up to the family troubles he left behind. Performances are provided by both professionals and non-actors but both are eclipsed by the bright and colourful cinematography as millions of kites take flight during the day and fireworks light up the sky at night.

 

The Pan-Asia Film Festival seems to have enjoyed a very successful run in 2013 and it will be interesting to see what they have in store next year.

 

Garry MacDonald