Gearing up for the Glasgow Film Festival 2015

23 Jan, 2015 Posted in: Festivals, Glasgow

The Glasgow Film Festival programme is announced and features Film4-backed films Second Coming and Catch Me Daddy plus much, much more, from 18th February to 1st March

It’s almost time once more for the Glasgow Film Festival, and once again, its programmers have put together a cracking selection of films, including a few Film4 favourites. We’re delighted to have backed Debbie Tucker Green’s drama Second Coming, which receives its Scottish premiere at the festival. Starring Nadine Marshall and Idris Elba, it follows a tight family unit navigating their way through life in the aftermath of an unexplained pregnancy.

Second Coming

Second Coming

Also on a Film4 note, Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy will play the festival, following its world premiere at Cannes in 2014. This dark, blisteringly tense thriller about a girl on the run stars award-winning newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed and will be released in UK cinemas on February 27th.

Catch Me Daddy

Catch Me Daddy

Elsewhere, the festival explores Glasgow’s history on film in the Cinema City strand, looking at the way films like Under The Skin have made the most of the city as a location, while fans of classic cinema can revel in the glorious existence of an Ingrid Bergman retrospective.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to finally catching Carol Morley’s follow up to Dreams Of A Life, acclaimed teen hysteria drama The Falling. You can watch the trailer here:

The Glasgow Film Festival runs from 18th February to the 1st March. Click here to download and browse the complete programme.


Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

As Louise Osmond’s inspirational documentary about an unlikely group of friends who breed themselves a racehorse is about to premiere at Sundance 2015, Catherine Bray catches up with the director for a quick chat about her inspiration for the film and hopes for Sundance 2015.

Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

Apparently, Dark Horse came out of a desire on Louise Osmond’s part to make “the Rocky of horse documentaries.” It’s quite the pitch, and that’s exactly what she’s achieved. Dark Horse is the rags to riches tale of Dream Alliance, a horse from humble origins that goes on to gallop his way to success on some of the UK’s top racing tracks. The team who backed him weren’t wealthy playboys or landed gentry, but a syndicate from a down-on-its-luck Welsh village who decided to have a bash at succeeding in the so-called “sport of kings.”

Almost unbelievably, they made it. Louise credits much of the mad-cap project’s success to one woman: Jan Vokes is the fearless founder of the syndicate and the woman who first decided to breed a racehorse on a rubbish heap. “Jan is fearless really. In her lovely quiet way, she’s really inspirational. She has that attitude of ‘nope, I’m not going to let my circumstances or anyone else define me and my life.’”

Although the icy mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah, might seem like a bit of a contrast with the lush green Welsh valleys, Louise hopes Sundance audiences will relate to the film. “It’s interesting, our American publicist saw it and he really got it. We hope it’s universal enough that US audiences will see the situation, the place, the context, the village, the valley, and be able to relate it to their own country, place, state. There are a lot of places in US, after the economic crash, facing the same issues as those South Wales villages. And everyone speaks really clearly so hopefully the accents won’t be a problem!”

I can’t wait to hear how the film connects with US audiences at its premiere tomorrow (23rd January) and am also looking forward to interviewing Louise and the rest of her team in more depth closer to the film’s UK release via Picturehouses in April 2015 – watch this space.

Film4 at Berlin International Film Festival

15 Jan, 2015 Productions Posted in: Berlin, Festivals

Two Film4 films have been selected to screen at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Both films feature in the competition programme.

45 Years

45 Years

From the director of Weekend, writer-director Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple whose seemingly contented lives are thrown into question when a letter from a past lover arrives in the post.

Dane DeHaan in Life

Dane DeHaan in Life

Anton Corbijn’s Life stars Dane DeHaan as James Dean and Robert Pattinson as Dennis Stock, the Magnum photographer commissioned to photograph the actor for LIFE Magazine in 1955.

Both films will receive their World Premieres at the festival.

The festival runs from 5th February to 14th February.

’71 and 20,000 Days On Earth, which featured in the 2014 festival, have both since received British Independent Film Awards and BAFTA nominations amongst a number of other accolades.


45 Years (Dir. Andrew Haigh)

The film follows Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) in the five days leading up to her forty-fifth wedding anniversary. Party plans are going well, until a letter arrives for her husband (Tom Courtenay) informing him that the body of his first love has been found frozen in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. As their anniversary celebrations grow closer, they delve further into their past, leaving their future in question.

Life (Dir. Anton Corbijn)

Life is inspired by the true story of a friendship that developed between Magnum photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and actor James Dean (Dane DeHaan) when Stock was commissioned to photograph the actor for LIFE magazine in 1955. Stock was 26 and old before his time, when into his buttoned-down world came fledgling star James Dean, a free spirit who would change popular culture from suits to jeans and from matinee idols to teenage heartthrobs. The assignment, which took the pair on a photographic journey across the US, from LA to New York and on to Indiana would change Stock’s life and provide the world with some of the most iconic images of the age.

Film4 at Sundance Film Festival

09 Dec, 2014 Productions Posted in: Festivals, Sundance

The selections for this year’s Sundance Film Festival have been revealed. Three Film4-backed films will feature at the festival, including two World Premieres.

John Maclean’s Slow West, starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee, features in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

Louise Osmond’s Dark Horse will feature in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

Both films will receive their World Premieres at the festival.

Also featuring in the festival’s Spotlight selection is Yann Demange’s ’71, which last night won the Best Director award at the British Independent Film Awards.

The festival runs from 22nd January to 1st February in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah.

Slow West Dir. John Maclean


A western set in frontier America at the end of the 19th Century, Slow West utilises Colorado’s dramatic landscape as a setting for the unlikely crossing of Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), a wild and dangerous drifter, with guileless adolescent, Jay (Jodi Smit-McPhee). Here, in the dense and feral forests of the American West, where confrontation with a stranger would normally mean a duel to the death, Silas, instead of killing Jay, offers to protect him in exchange for cash. Jay has come to America to be reunited with the love of his life, Rose, a fugitive from their native Scotland. Silas’ true motivation, however, is as enigmatic as Jay’s is true-hearted. It is on his journey with this unlikely saviour, fraught with peril, betrayal and violence, that Jay is forced to question Silas’ loyalty towards him, as he realises all too late that America takes no pity on the innocent.

Dark Horse Dir. Louise Osmond


Dark Horse tells the larger than life true story of how a barmaid in a former mining village in South Wales bred a racehorse on her allotment that went on to become a champion. Jan had successfully bred dogs and birds and believed she could do the same with a different animal – though she knew nothing about racing and had never been on a horse. Convincing a handful of locals to part with ten pound a week for her scheme, she found a thoroughbred mare with a terrible racing record for £300, a stallion past his best, put them together and – against all the odds – bred a winner. It’s an audacious tale of luck and chance and beating the odds; a story of how a gaggle of working class folk from the Welsh Valleys took on the racing elite, broke through class and financial barriers, and brought hope and pride back to their depressed community. Dark Horse is an inspirational, emotional story with as many heart-stopping moments as any ‘jump’ race; it’s a story about dreams coming true.

‘71 Dir. Yann Demange

71 jack o connell

A young British soldier is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a terrifying riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, the raw recruit must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorienting, alien and deadly landscape.

Clare Stewart on directing the BFI London Film Festival

London Film Festival director Clare Stewart discusses the easiest and hardest aspects of her role on the eve of the 2014 festival…



The easiest thing about directing BFI London Film Festival: saying, or hearing, YES

When negotiating on a film for the Festival, saying yes is the easiest thing – we know we are creating an opportunity for a film to shine, and for audiences to engage with it, whether that be a high profile, headline gala like our Closing Night Film, David Ayer’s Fury and our American Express Gala, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, or a brilliant ‘discovery’ film for First Feature Competition, like Yann Demange’s ’71 or Miroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe. The adrenaline rush that comes with the ‘yes’ moment and the pleasure that brings for the filmmakers and the companies involved sustains us through the tougher discussions, and the complexity of juggling negotiations on 248 feature films from over 70 countries! And while it’s easy to say ‘yes’ and even better when I hear it on the other end of a phone (I still use that device), there is often a lot of work that has been undertaken to get that response.

For example, we saw our Opening Night Film, The Imitation Game, at a very early stage, and while all the companies involved – the producers, the UK distributor, the international sales company, the US distributor – were immediately enthusiastic about our interest, we still took the pitch very seriously, and put a lot of work into ensuring we would meet everyone’s expectations and that our own needs for Opening Night would also be met. Of course, it was then very easy to take the ‘yes’ call when director Morten Tyldum and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley were confirmed for our gala! Similarly, when I hear ‘yes’, Abderrahmane Sissako will do a Screen Talk in support of his film Timbuktu and Donnie Yen will come off the set of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 in New Zealand for the world premiere of Kung Fu Jungle, or I get to say in an interview ‘yes, there are 54 women directors with feature films in our Festival’ – these are all things that feel easy too.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

The hardest thing about directing BFI London Film Festival: saying, or hearing, NO

‘No’ is the toughest thing! We see well over 2500 films for Festival programming. Basic maths means we are saying ‘no’ to nine films for every film we say ‘yes’ to. The programming team has a strong appreciation for the creative energy, the resource, the commitment that goes into making a film and saying ‘no’ can be very dispiriting. We do a lot of tracking and researching so there is always the niggling fear that we might put in a lot of hard yards to see a film and then be in a situation where we need to turn around and say ‘no’. Of course it’s also hard to hear it, and a Festival Director’s best kept secrets are the films that get away… which of course I will not be expanding on here! And for the film that almost got away… well you have to sign up for our Surprise Film.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 8th-19th October. For more information, visit