Glasgow Film Festival 2021

One of the few benefits to lockdown is newfound access to events that we previously just couldn’t attend. For me, Glasgow Film Festival is one of them. Usually scheduled at a particularly busy time for our cinema, travel to Scotland was unfeasible. This year, GFF have gone online - though had cinemas been open, we would have brought a number of exclusive previews to Sheffield!

This past week, I’ve been enjoying GFF’s press and industry screenings, but their programme opens to everyone Wednesday 24 Feb – Sunday 7 March. Most films have scheduled times, but you have 72 hours to watch them so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. 80% of the programme has either captions (dialogue and off-screen sounds) or subtitles (dialogue) so it’s very accessible if you’re deaf or hard of hearing (or like me, always eating crunchy snacks). Films can be rented for £9.99, and many are UK or European premieres.

If you're in need of inspiration, below are some of my recommendations:


Ben Sharrock’s deadpan comedy-drama brings a completely fresh perspective to the life of a migrant. Musician Omar has fled conflict in Syria and now finds himself at a desolate refugee centre on a remote Scottish island. Separated from home and family, he waits in limbo for others to decide his future. A beautiful, achingly poignant tale that will break your heart on the way to warming your soul.

The Man Standing Next

South Korea’s Oscar candidate uses the final days of President Park Chung-hee’s rule in 1979 as the basis of a tense conspiracy thriller with all the intrigue of a John le Carré classic. Eighteen years after a military coup d’etat in South Korea, President Park has become a symbol of corrupt dictatorship. Korean intelligence chief Kim Gyu-pyeong has sworn to serve the President but his loyalty is tested to the limit in a fast-unfolding web of paranoia, plotting, violence and betrayal.

Riders of Justice

An inspired cocktail of uproarious black comedy and shocking violence. Seething with barely suppressed anger, military veteran Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) struggles to deal with a tragedy in his life. When Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) suggests a deadly accident was really something more sinister, it sets Markus on the path to revenge against biker gang, Riders of Justice.


Any fan of Charlie Kaufman or Yorgos Lanthimos will love this haunting feature from Christos Nikou. Aris is the latest victim of a mysterious pandemic that causes sudden amnesia. He must now complete a series of tasks designed to build confidence and construct a new identity. Social interaction and self-awareness have rarely seemed so difficult.


Shining a light on gender inequality in the electronic dance music scene is the main focus of director Stacey Lee’s uplifting documentary. Beautifully shot, Underplayed is an intimate and revealing look at the personal journeys of many talented and vibrant women making their mark within an industry that has long undervalued female musicians, technicians and producers.


A Black teenager lies in hospital, the latest victim of police brutality. Tensions have never been higher in Copenhagen’s notorious Svalegården ghetto when two cops head out on a routine patrol. A stop and search becomes a needless act of humiliation. Events begin to escalate and the two men are soon abandoned to their fate in a no-go zone where the violence is out of control. An intelligent nail-biter of a film.


Love is where you find it in Jumbo, a quirky charmer of a debut from Zoé Wittock, 'inspired' by a true story. Awkward, painfully shy Jeanne (Noémie Merlant from Portrait of a Lady on Fire) lives with her blowsy mother (Emmanuelle Bercot) and works as a cleaner at an amusement park. Out of the blue, she finds happiness with Jumbo - the park’s newest ride. Every touch of cold metal or oil oozing from this mighty inanimate object fuels her infatuation, convincing her that her feelings are reciprocated. Can Jeanne find love and understanding with her fairground attraction?

Find our more about Glasgow Film Festival 2021 and see the full programme.

This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 25 February 2021.


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