Entertainment & Arts

Glasgow Film Festival not immune from independence debate

The Grand Budapest Hotel Image copyright AP
Image caption Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel was this year's opening film

The referendum that will decide Scotland's future is seven months away, yet it is hard to get away from it at this year's Glasgow Film Festival.

The subject seems to have even made it to Beverly Hills 90210, if comments made by actor turned director Jason Priestley after a screening of his latest film are anything to go by.

Asked how he might follow Cas and Dylan, a road movie starring Hollywood veteran Richard Dreyfuss and Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany, the former TV star joked that he might consider something on "the proposed secession of Scotland".

His light-hearted remarks followed David Bowie's more earnest plea for unity at this week's Brits, an episode that led some to ponder the wisdom of celebrities involving themselves in political affairs.

Scottish comedian John Sessions, in town to give a highly entertaining talk on his life and career, says it can be "a bit toe-curling and "luvvie-ish" to hear actors like himself pontificating on weighty matters of state.

That does not prevent him, however, from insisting a Yes vote in September "would be one of the biggest disasters to ever befall this wonderful country".

There are some, though, who opt to keep their counsel, amongst them The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade.

"I feel the expectation is not there for my pronouncements," says the comedian turned director, in town to present his dystopian black comedy The Double.

"I haven't been asked to lob my tuppence into the political fray, and I'm not sure my particular brand of banality will be called upon."

Image copyright Iden Ford
Image caption Richard Dreyfuss stars as an ageing surgeon with a terminal brain tumour in Cas and Dylan

Whatever the people decide later this year, the Glasgow Film Festival can at least be confident in its own future.

Now marking its 10th anniversary, the event has grown to be the third biggest in the UK (after London and Edinburgh) while retaining its reputation for accessibility and inclusivity.

This year's opening night film for example - The Grand Budapest Hotel, the newest star-laden oddity from US auteur Wes Anderson - was followed by a party to which all the audience were invited.

The festival has also continued its policy of finding unusual places to hold screenings, encouraging its audiences to discover parts of the city they might not know existed.

Celebrity guests, meanwhile, are gently encouraged to interact with patrons in a way that would be unthinkable at the likes of Cannes or Venice.

Yet accessibility only goes so far. Richard Dreyfuss, for example, had his every move on Saturday shadowed by a pair of burly security guards, who were in no mood to let his adoring public get too close.

Dreyfuss, incidentally, was also eager to sound off on a potentially divisive subject. In his case, however, that subject was euthanasia and the right of an individual to choose the time and manner of their passing.

It is a topic raised by Cas and Dylan, in which an ageing surgeon with a terminal brain tumour contemplates suicide with the help of a free-spirited would-be authoress.

"I personally think that anyone who tries to interfere with the most important decision a person could possibly make, how one chooses to exit one's life, is terrible, intrusive and cruel," the 66-year-old declared.

"A person has the right to end their life as he or she wishes, and no one has the right to take that away."

The Glasgow Film Festival continues until 2 March.

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