Pulse (Still) by Ruth Paxton and Dobrinka Tabakova. Image courtesy of the Glasgow Short Film Festival.

The Glasgow Short Film Festival launches tomorrow. Covering four days this year, the festival offers thirty new Scottish films in its Scottish Short Film Competition and thirty-four films vying for the Bill Douglas Award for International Short Film. There are numerous programmes ranging from Irish film to Queer Russian cinema alongside a series of talks, special events and a Low Budget VFX workshop.

But what to see? Matt Lloyd, the festival director took some time to highlight some of the must-sees this year. Focusing on the relationship between film and music, this year’s festival begins to blur the lines between the two. “Short film is a medium able to explore more interpersonal relationships with sound and music..[which is] used not only to support characters but in more interesting ways”. The festival’s opening performance and world premiere, PULSE draws upon this pairing. Featuring Grammy-nominated British/Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova and Scottish filmmaker Ruth Paxton, the event is a fusion of live music and short film that is not to be missed.

With so many films to see, the question that comes to mind is how exactly does a festival programmer choose such a wide variety of films? Lloyd compares it to putting together a mixtape, “Anyone can do it. You need variety but you also have to see the connections between films without allowing too much repetition”. However as anyone who has tried to make a mixtape knows, a lot of effort goes into making something that has depth, range and flow. With his distinctively bold style, Lloyd continues to drive the Glasgow Short Film Festival forward with innovative events and a blend of new talent from Scotland and beyond.

The first of Lloyd’s recommendations comes from Scotland. Screening as part of both the Scottish and International competitions is Cara Connolly and Martin Clark’s Exchange & Mart. After debuting at Sundance and showing at Berlin, the Scottish film comes to Glasgow for its UK premiere. “It’s a strong mature work for a fiction debut that deals with isolation and the need for human contact- it’s got a lot of talent,” says Lloyd.

Looking forwards towards September’s referendum is a panel entitled ‘Independence and the Scottish Film Industry.’ Focusing less on posturing and more on discussion, the session will examine just what the effects of nationhood might have on Scottish film culture. Inspired by a casual question from a colleague, Lloyd says “I have no idea what’s going to happen and that’s exciting.”

In the international competition, Lloyd recommends On the Threshold (Sto katofli), a Greek film. “It has the steady deliberateness of recent Greek features which blends with the anger coming out of Greece at the moment.” Equally promising is Robin McKay’s international premiere of How to Abandon Ship, an American animation and live-action film about relationships that is in the words of Lloyd, “ both funny and heart-wrenching.”

Finally, not to be missed are festival guests Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva. Mayer, a visual artist and Leyva, a playwright both based in Miami, will present a series of films that “defy classification” in their first ever international setting. If Indiewire calls them “next great hope of American Film,” Lloyd’s suggestion that these are “ones to watch” should be heeded.

The festival runs from the 13-16 February at various venues around Glasgow. For the full programme click here.

Interview by Madeleine Schmoll

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