From October to December 2015, 50 events took place across Scotland as part of the BFI’s LOVE season, a UK wide celebration of love on screen.
Venues across the country programmed special themed screenings tied to the season, from romantic literary adaptations at the Glasgow Women’s Library, to classic film screenings at the Bo’Ness Hippodrome to a Queer Women in Love season from the Scottish Queer International Film Festival. Scottish organisations also joined forces with fellow exhibitors across the country to deliver a number of exciting special projects to mark the season.
What’s the Grey Matter with Gregory?
In January 2016, BFI Education and the Wellcome Trust collaborated with Cinelive to present “What’s the Grey Matter with Gregory?” to secondary school students across England, Scotland and Wales. This innovative cinema experience took inspiration from Bill Forsyth’s essential teen romance Gregory’s Girl, working with local scientists to deliver a day of immersive science and arts education activity incorporating drama performances and a film screening.
Scottish events took place at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Eden Court in Inverness during January 2016, with 216 Scottish secondary school students taking part. During the course of the day students were called upon to pose as officials from The Department for the Investigation of Amorous Disorders (D.I.A.D) in order to investigate a strange outbreak of “flirtatiousness” at Abronhill High School. These students were plunged into the 1980s, meeting characters from the film (played by local young actors) observing their behaviour and taking part in a series of workshops led by PhD scientists, examining the influence that psychology and hormones hold over human behaviour. The day concluded with a screening of Gregory’s Girl.
Wings of Desire at Paisley Abbey
On Sunday 1 November 2015, Glasgow Film Festival invited audiences to fall in .love at a special one off screening Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) in the atmospheric surroundings of Paisley Abbey.
Taking place on All Saints’ Day, this very special event combined a spectacular venue with a dazzling array of activity designed in response to Wender’s cinematic vision. Experimental Glasgow band Tut Vu Vu created a sublime and unearthly soundscape. Working alongside the Paisley Abbey Choir, the Glasgow musician Hausfrau and the artist Kathryn Elkin to generate an evocative atmosphere. Elsewhere a fire Berlin themed food and drink, dazzling trapeze work from aerial performance company Spinal Chord and a fire garden, custom-designed by Walk the Plank, contributed to a unique atmosphere.
From Africa, With Love
From October – November 2015, African film festivals across the UK worked together to present a series of screenings of classic and contemporary films about romantic love on the African continent. The programme was a collaborative effort between the five African film festivals in the UK: Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival in Scotland; Film Africa in London; Afrika Eye in Bristol; Watch-Africa in Wales; and the Cambridge African Film Festival (CAFF).
Eight films were selected that focused on different aspects of romantic love, and these were divided into three overarching themes:
Love in Conflict examined love in times of adversity and included screenings of Mark Dornford-May’s Breathe Umphefumlo (South Africa, 2015) and Miklas Manneke’s Kanyekanye (South Africa, 2013).
Love Brewed in an African Pot were special “date night” events that combined delicious African cusine with film screenings. Films screened were Jenna Cato Bass’ Love the One You Love (South Africa, 2014) and Hermon Hailay’s Price of Love (Ethiopia, 2015).
Romantic Views explored the cultural perceptions and interpretations of love across Africa, looking at religion, class, tradition and the collision with modernity, and the unique place of love in African life, manifested in marriage, dowries, courting rituals, and the challenges of unconventional love. Films included were:
- Djibril Diop Mambety’s Hyenas (Senegal, 1992)
- Youssef Chahine’s Cairo Station (Egypt, 1958)
- Jim Chuchu’s Stories of our Lives (2014)
- Zeze Gamboa’s O Grand Kilapy (Angola, 2012)
The programme overall proved very popular, with above expected admissions and many screenings selling out. From Africa in Love enriched and diversified the BFI Love programmed, offering a different perspective on cinematic portrayals of romance and encouraging audiences in Scotland (and across the UK) to engage with African cinema, as well as building connections between African film festivals across the country.
All photos from Wings of Desire at Paisley Abbey: Photo credit Ingrid Muir