To mark the tenth anniversary of GSFF, we’ve carried out a series of interviews with some of our many volunteers, staff members and other contributors over the years, asking them for their most memorable festival films and moments. In this final instalment we spoke with:
Morvern Cunningham, GSFF Volunteer 2012, GSFF Festival Coordinator 2013-2015, GSFF Events Manager 2016, GSFF Event Producer 2017.
Julie Cathcart, Head of Communications for Glasgow Film 2011-2014, now Communications Manager at CCA.
Sanne Jehoul, GSFF Volunteer 2012-2013, GSFF Festival Assistant 2015, GSFF Festival Coordinator/ Programmer 2016-2017.
Clo Meehan, GSFF Festival Assistant 2016, now Events Manager, Free Pride Glasgow.
Ronan Leonard, team member of IndieCork Film Festival, GSFF regular and urban folk-hero, apparently.
What film that you saw at GSFF has stuck with you, and why? Clo: A Short Guide to Re-entry by Anwar Boulifa, winner of last year’s International Jury and Audience award. I had this picked out as one to watch for a prize winner, because of how effectively it tells its story with minimal dialogue or action. The director’s background in documentary results in a unique look for a short fiction, and a hard-hitting look at race, class and the prison system in the UK. It’s really stuck with me because of how important that wee glimpse into one man’s experience is as a story to tell, and to see it recognised with both International awards was fantastic. Handing the award to Anwar was definitely one of the highlights of GSFF16 for me!
Morvern: I volunteered for GSFF back in 2012 where I came across the work of Ben Russell for the very first time. I remember ushering a delegate screening one morning which included Ben’s latest film at the time, River Rites. I admittedly was suffering from a bit of a hangover (very unlike me) and perhaps due to my mental state, I felt like I was experiencing an hallucinatory, almost religious experience in the cinema. This is of course, a regular trope of Ben’s work, and I’ve been fascinated by him ever since.
Julie: There’s been so many GSFF films and events over the last six years that I’ve loved – Vertical Cinema in the Briggait, the Luminous Latitude programme of artist films, Don Hertzfeldt, Lost Treasure, The Skinny awards… But one – less obvious – programme of shorts that has stuck with me was 12th Player – a Sunday afternoon screening in the CCA Theatre of shorts following football fans. It included films from all over the world, highlighting the tensions, passion, heartbreak and elation of supporting football – all based on the idea that fans are a part of the team, feel every up and down of the match, and chase the elusive (if, like me, you’re a Scotland fan) win as much as the players on the pitch. 12th Player screened to an audience of exactly twelve, and the films were of such quality that I really wished we’d managed to reach a larger crowd.
Sanne: This is going to surprise no one at all, especially since it won the Audience Award that year, but I saw Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow for the first time at GSFF15 and it’s become one of my favourite films of all time full stop. I’ve probably seen it about 30 times since then and have forced many of my pals to watch it. It combines my fascination with (and apprehension of) digital lives with an innocent and humanist approach to a fairly bonkers story. Reminded me a lot of Vonnegut’s work as well. Give it another year and I’ll probably have a wee Emily tattoo somewhere.
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Ronan: A toss up between seeing a run of Jennifer Reeder films in one as opposed to sporadically, or when Mick Hannigan, IndieCork Co-Director, presented a programme of films in the months after the first edition of IndieCork (am I breaking the magic circle of short film festival runners when I admit I don’t always see all of the films we put on?) where I got to sit in a room of people I didn’t know laughing/sighing/gasping/being quiet at the appropriate time to films that had come via our festival to GSFF.
What was your most memorable GSFF encounter?
Morvern: 2013 was my first year as GSFF coordinator, and it was at that festival I met the glorious Caroline Sascha-Cogez who had a film retrospective featured in the programme. CSC is hands-down cool as f***, with a great energy, intensity and appetite for stories of the non-mainstream and unusual.
(Here I am, looking suitably wowed while CSC is being her usual cool self.) We’ve stayed in touch over the years and have met up when I’ve been over in Copenhagen. Hoping to visit again very soon!
Ronan: I reconnected with a friend who was coming out of a tough time, we followed A Wall Is A Screen, we each walked round a different Glasgow: one was the city he’d lived in for several years and I walked streets I’d never seen.
Sanne: I’ve met so many incredibly people since I’ve started working for GSFF, a lot of them now genuine pals. Short film folk are good folk. Thank you to Jing Haase (from Nordisk Panorama) and Jason Ryle (from imagineNATIVE) for getting a mini-celebration with singing and whisky going when I turned 30, even though I’d only met them that same day. It was pretty damn excellent. Also lots of musical love to Christoffer Olofsson (Uppsala) with whom I’ve developed a deep bond over bouncy tunes. I’ve also loved meeting guests who had their first films in GSFF like Patrick Buhr and Anwar Boulifa who are amazing down-to-earth people with inspiring ideas that have since gone on to impress me even more.
Tell me about your finest GSFF experiences…
Morvern: My most memorable experience during GSFF was running the A Wall Is A Screen special event back in 2015. The whole event was a bit of of a punt, as there were a bunch of unknowns involved – it being the first time we presented the event at the festival, and not knowing how many folk would even show up on the night. I remember briefing the volunteer stewards that evening and preparing them for a big turnout, as 500 people had said they were coming to the facebook event. As it was, we had even more people than that attend in the end (we know this because we took a tally of everyone as they came through the Savoy Centre, which was one of the stops on the top secret route).
This image is when we moved off from CCA at the start of the night and Sarah (one of the AWIAS team) said over the megaphone “Everybody follow Morvern!” and we were off!
A Wall Is A Screen returns this year for the festival’s 10th edition, with a brand new route and brand new programme of short films. Come check it out on Saturday 18th March at 8pm, gathering by the Osbourne Street entrance of Argyle Street Railway Station.
Julie: I’m so excited for GSFF17 – one big celebration of ten years of one of my favourite Glasgow festivals! This year feels like it’s the biggest, boldest programme yet and there’s so much I want to see – the 10th Anniversary Shorts opener, the return of The Magic Lantern, Reflections on Sovereignty, An Evening with Bukowski, the Award Winners closing party… The one event I’ve always made it to in GSFF is the Award Winners – which I love! It’s such a great evening and a wonderful way of seeing the best of the fest – just bursting full of short films with big hearts. The winning filmmakers always appear so surprised and happy to get an award, and the films vary so much in style and subject, yet each is stunning in its own right. It just feels like the whole heart and spirit of GSFF in one big shiny two-hour show.
Ronan: Strange Electricity with Jimi Tenor* and Golden Teacher at GSFF15 was a great event; but in terms of film I think being introduced to the Duncan Cowles cartel, it’s like the Rat Pack of Scottish Short Films & Docs.
*= due to currency fluctuations I believe he is now known as Jimi NineQuid
Clo: I think seeing Matt’s four year old daughter introduce the Family Shorts screening she helped programme last year was one of the most adorable things I’ve witnessed. And I appreciate the effort to boost women in the film industry from such a young age! Not that anyone’s choosing her career path or anything.
Sanne: I’m going to assume that any of the 40+ people who were crammed into Miami filmmakers Michael Arcos’ and Marnie Ellen’s small hotel room on the last night of GSFF15, with an uncomfortable amount of physical contact considering what was on the TV screen, will agree that it was very memorable. They had sent out mysterious invites for a site-specific film installation after the closing party, so Morvern and I slowly smuggled small groups of GSFF folk into the hotel (shh).
We ended up breaking numerous health and safety rules squashed together in a very sweaty room, exhausted from five days festivalling yet still wired on adrenaline, and ended up watching what was pretty much soft-porn… – it really cemented our reputation. I think. Drank some good champagne though.
By Amelia Seely