GFF21 – How’s it gonna work?

So 2020 was an absolutely shitty year for pretty much everyone. Thank fuck it’s on its road out finally.

GFF20 managed to go ahead unscathed, but the GFT who run the festival had to shut for the majority of the year, and that effected them financially in a massive way. Luckily Glasgow Film, which runs both the festival and the GFT, is an educational charity and could apply for support as such.

And to narrow the scope of the shittiness of the Covid pandemic down from its global catastrophe to just the purview of this blog – the Glasgow Film Festival – it’s also had an impact on how GFF21 will go ahead.

For the first time, the GFF will run online, as well as in-person cinema showings. It will also run in cinemas outside Glasgow for the first time, all across the UK. Find the list of participating cinemas here –

This is good news. The wider the audience and more accessible the festival is, the better. Plus it gives the GFF room to pivot if they do need to close a venue, or if Glasgow comes under tighter restrictions.

I still have a lot of questions about how this is gonna work though. Like, are all films gonna be shown online and in cinema? Or are some being shown in person only, or online only? Are they going to be showing online simultaneous to the in-person showings, so you can watch from home and join in the conversation? Or is it gonna act more like a catch-up after the cinema showings? Will films be available online through the entirety of the festival? Or just within 48 hours or so of the cinema screening? Will the online showings have the same ticket price as the cinema showings? Or cheaper since you’re not getting the cinema experience? There are pros and cons to both those options.

It’s only December now, so more information will follow as time goes on. The full programme is out on the 14th January, so we’ll not have to wait too long into 2021 to find out.

Minari will be this year’s Opening Gala film, which looks great from the trailer. And Spring Blossom is the coming-of-age flick which will finish us off at the Closing Gala. This year the Opening and Closing Gala tickets will go on sale at the same time as the rest of the programme. This flagged a little question mark for me, was it because they were anticipating less demand for GFF21? Or it could be that they are not doing a full event, so there’s no catering and bar to book ahead of time. While I love the Opening and Closing Gala events, (I practically chase the waiters round those things for the canapes), I have to admit, the total scrum at 29 would not be something we would wanna recreate in the time of Covid. Again, no deets yet, but there’s time still for full announcements on that.

Another thing that has been missing, has been any mention of special event screenings. Last year I went to the Train to Busan showing under the Arches, and in previous years they’ve done stuff like showing The Thing on a dry ski slope. All fucking ace, and that stuff usually gets announced around December time ahead of the main programme. No mention of this yet, which could suggest big events are just going to be too difficult to co-ordinate this year. Or maybe they still totally have a line-up of events they’re going to announce later in the month. It is only the 15th after all.

I think probably there has just been a knock-on effect from the GFF team working from home all year, like there has been for all of us, that have meant delays and uncertainty have prevented them from sticking to their usual announcement schedule. Which is extremely understandable.

Regardless, I think GFF21 is going to be awesome. I’m also really looking forward to being able to see all my first choices of films, if I can watch them online at any convenient time, rather than have to pick and choose between clashing screenings.

But for now, I just want to see the back of this god-awful year, the only shining part of which was GFF20 and the great online offerings from Africa in Motion and Take One Action festivals. Fingers crossed for 2021 to come.