Glasgow Youth Film Festival – Young Programmers’ Choice

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A bunch of amateurs (N/C 12+)
Real. Director Kim Hopkins

In A bunch of amateurs community is everything. It’s a film about creation, and the collective joy of a round of tea after a job well done – or badly done, but too bad, everyone was in it, so let’s get to the kettle.

The main storyline throughout most of the film is the band’s attempt to recreate the opening of the classic musical Oklahoma! like a love letter to a member’s terminally ill wife. The comedy is there: the mutual eye-rolling at every stupid decision and mistake, the deadpan way many members state the facts, as well as the simple fact that they’re just funny people. But the heart – and the melancholy – is there too, sometimes just below the surface.

The documentary shifts between tones effortlessly, weaving an immensely compelling, accessible and – above all – human story entirely out of real life. “I become ‘Joe, filmmaker’,” says one of the members. “Otherwise it’s just ‘Joe’.” [Jay]

GFT, September 17, 3:15 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Kim Hopkins and producer Margareta Szabo

Red Mill! (12A)
Real. Baz Luhrmann

Red Mill! follows Christian (Ewan McGregor), a poor writer who falls in love with Satine (Nicole Kidman), an aspiring actress who is… Well, there’s no point in trying to summarize this story as the director, Baz Luhrmann, seems less interested in intrigue and more interested in the dramatic stylistic opportunities it presents.

The danger is that this could easily be a case of style over substance, but here style informs substance. This highly stylistic approach – involving black-and-white and color photography and a mix of pop songs – helps bring new energy to a familiar story. Luhrmann creates dynamics through movement, by moving the camera or the actors or both, creating constant movement and finding unique visuals for each scene (you almost never see the same shot twice).

Luhrmann’s film is expressionist, using sound effects that seem sampled from looney tunes to an editing that creates rhythm thanks to quick cuts. This also applies to the cast, especially McGregor and Kidman. Both give gigantic and lively shows that come straight out of Toulouse theatrical productions. Luhrmann’s maximalism guarantees audience engagement, so much so that you always get a sense of the film’s scale while watching it on your laptop — on your phone, even. To fully appreciate its intended effect, however, Red Mill! to see on the big screen. [Sean]

GFT, September 16, 6:30 p.m.

Moonlight (15)
Real. Barry Jenkins

Moonlight is a film that explores masculinity in the African-American community through the lens of a man named Chiron, who is shown to us at three different stages of his life: first as a young boy, then as a teenager and finally as a man. This structure carries the film as we watch Chiron develop over this time and observe how all the people in his life affect his perception of himself as he struggles to come to terms with who he is – and in particular with his sexuality.

The film benefits from a brilliant cast, in particular the three actors playing Chiron, who keep the character cohesive while each bringing their own personal touch. It pairs well with Barry Jenkins’ subtle direction, with the blues creating a specific mood that’s both relaxing and melancholy that pervades the entire film, further punctuated by the slow, brooding score creating a dreamlike atmosphere and tone. The film also features beautiful cinematography with boundless, endless shots of the ocean that make the world feel so vast and eerie, much like the life Chiron must live.

Moonlight stands as an important examination of manhood and the toxic expectations of what a man should be, and serves as a pitch-perfect exploration of the intersectionality of being gay in the African-American community. It stands out like a rainbow in an ocean of gray. [Sonny]

TFG, September 18, 3:30 p.m.

Angry Young Men (N/C15+)
Real. Paul Morris

Paul Morris’ feature debut transports us to a fictional region of Scotland called Mauchton (the locations are actually Lanarkshire) where a group of children, The Bramble Boys, have made it their mission to take over from the gangs most established. It’s not a pint-sized scotch scarface, yet. The violence here is lighthearted, with the Bramble Boys’ unconventional weapons and clothing lending a comedic touch to the film as they seek revenge against a rising new enemy, The Campbell Group.

Morris’ cinematography and location create a raw feel and provide a recognizable backdrop for Scottish audiences. The gang here serves the community, which is refreshing and rare in movies. Angry young men was clearly made with little money, but it does have the benefit of a smart, well-thought-out script, and crisp editing and visuals, especially the final drone shots at the end, which drive the narrative forward. Morris’ passion – credited as producer, director, screenwriter, production designer, cinematographer, editor and actor – proves that it is possible to make an ambitious film in Scotland with limited means. Overall, the film was far from “pish” and more “yaldi”, as Glasgow locals would say. [Lorna]

GFT, September 17, 5:45 p.m.; followed by a Q&A with Paul Morris


The Glasgow Youth Film Festival runs from September 16-18; full program and tickets at glasgowfilm.org

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