Glasgow Film Festival tends to slip under the radar: it comes immediately after the Berlinale, often coincides with or follows the Oscars, and tends to host mainly UK and Scottish premieres of films that have played elsewhere. However, it is by no means a second-rate festival – like London, it tends to pull the best and most exciting offerings from Berlin, Cannes and Toronto, covering the part of the year that does not often get included in awards conversations.

This year’s slate is particularly exciting, and the ORWAV team has grouped some highlights by theme to spotlight the diversity of the programming.

Scotland in focus


Courtesy of: Film Constellation

The national cinema is well celebrated at GFF. The Aberdeen-set, Springsteen-inspired dram Run makes its anticipated Scottish premiere after playing at Tribeca and London. With dynamite performances from Mark Stanley, Amy Manson, Anders Hayward, and Marli Siu, it is a mature, measured look at lives refusing to go to plan. Our Ladies, another LFF favourite, follows a group of Catholic schoolgirls on a wild night out in Edinburgh during their choral competition. Expect laughter, raunchy humour, and wonderful music in this adaptation of Alan Warner’s 1998 novel.

A science fiction future


Courtesy of: Saban Films

Vivarium is perhaps the highest profile sci-fi making its UK debut in Glasgow, having previously played at Cannes and Fantastic Fest. Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, it follows a married couple whose first home purchase takes a sinister turn – and a seemingly abandoned infant may provide the only way out. We first saw it in Cannes last year and would highly recommend it.

This year’s GFF is also home to Are We There Yet: A Retrospective of the Future, which offers free screenings of dystopian classics. Continuing a conversation around the bright futures and dark possibilities of artificial intelligence, it is a great opportunity for Scottish audiences looking to catch the likes of Brazil, Children of Men, District 9, or Strange Days.

True stories

Teenage Toni Morrison In Class Courtesy Lorain Public

Courtesy of: Republic Film Distribution

Cinema loves real-life dramatisations, and GFF is hosting biopics, biographical documentaries, and blatantly fictionalised histories of all kinds. Roy’s World, Barry Gifford’s Chicago looks to be an inventive imagining the autobiographical musings of poet, author and screenwriter Barry Gifford’s autobiographical musings, as narrated by Willem Dafoe and Lily Taylor. Sulphur & White looks to give David Tait an overdue biopic; the financial trader turned mountaineer and NSPCC campaigner has climbed Everest five times to raise over  £1 million to help children escape abusive homes – a situation he is far too familiar with. Premiering at GFF a week before its UK release, the cast includes Mark Stanley, Emily Beecham, Anna Friel and Dougray Scott. Documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am premiered at Sundance last year and won praise for its comprehensive overview of the author’s life, often told in her own words. Lastly, the festival plays host to the Scottish premiere of True History of the Kelly Gang days before its wide release. This is absolutely one to catch. We gave it the full 5 out of 5.

Family matters

Truth The 2019 001 Catherine Deneuve Juliette Binoche Kitchen Greetings

Courtesy of: Curzon Artificial Eye

After his heartfelt 2017 drama Daphne, Peter Mackie Burns returns with Rialto, a picture of a middle-aged father’s identity crisis following the death of his father and uncertainty of future employment. As he finds companionship with a young hustler, the film promises a look at lives adrift. Fatherhood also features prominently in A White, White Day, Hlynur Pálmason’s film about a widowed police officer (played by Ingvar Sigurõsson). The film was Iceland’s selection for Oscars consideration after its run at TIFF and makes its UK premiere in Glasgow. Lastly and very excitingly, The Truth, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first non-Japanese language film, boasts an all-star cast and a gripping mother-daughter relationship drama. While its UK release is not far off, GFF marks its first screenings in the country.

21st-century issues

Lost Transmissioms 1 Cropped

Courtesy of: Gravitas Ventures

France’s Oscar-nominated Les Misérables makes its UK premiere at GFF this year. It is not an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic 19th-century novel but deals with similar themes of poverty and police brutality in present-day Montfermeil, marking it as one of the festival’s most exciting offerings. Simon Pegg appears in Lost Transmissions, a drama about a music producer battling both schizophrenia and the US mental health care system – both fraught with uncertainty and frustrations. The SXSW audience award winner The Garden Left Behind makes its UK premiere in Glasgow; it follows a transgender woman in Mexico and her struggles to find acceptance in her community. Haifaa al-Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate layers contemporary Saudi politics with a sensitive family drama. It plays on the last weekend of the festival, which GFF has devoted to female filmmakers to celebrate International Women’s Day. Here’s our review from Venice.

If you’re interested in attending the Glasgow Film Festival, check their full schedule and programme right here.