Handsome Devil director says film grew from his own schoolboy dramas

The 13th Glasgow Film Festival got under way on Wednesday with a sell-out opening gala featuring the European premiere of Irish comedy-drama Handsome Devil.

The screening of the movie at the Glasgow Film Theatre starring Sherlock and Spectre actor Andrew Scott marks the start of an 11-day celebration of film and one of the festival’s biggest-ever programmes.

Directed by John Butler, the coming-of-age film follows two schoolboy opposites who are forced to share a bedroom at their boarding school, forming an unlikely friendship until it is tested by the authorities.

Speaking on the red carpet, John said the movie was based on his own personal schoolboy experiences.

John speaks on the red carpet (Eoin Carey/PA)

He said: “It’s a modern story set in the here and now but it’s certainly based on my own experience and childhood and pretty much of every boy who goes to a single-sex school and deals with these pressures so it’s definitely autobiographical in some parts.

“It’s about the experience in general of boys going to rugby-playing schools where there are notions about what a man is and how that can sometimes grate against what you might believe in yourself.”

Speaking of the importance of home-grown films, he added that they were “vital” to a country’s sense of identity, cultural recognition, tourism industry and economy.

John, who comes from Dublin, added his pride was “wounded” following Ireland’s 27-22 rugby match defeat to Scotland in the opening match of the RBS 6 Nations tournament on February 4.

The Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) will feature more than 300 events and screenings, showcasing more than 180 movies from 38 countries.

It will feature nine world and international premieres, three European premieres, 65 UK premieres and 67 Scottish premieres.

David Tennant will bring the curtain down on the festival on February 26 with the world premiere of his latest movie Mad To Be Normal, about a pioneering Scottish psychiatrist.

On February 22, the festival will stage the world premiere of Benny, the story of Benny Lynch, widely considered the greatest boxer Scotland has ever produced.

The festival will also cater for music fans, with the sold-out screening of Lost In France at Sauchiehall Street’s O2 ABC looking at the rise of Scotland’s independent music scene and bands such as Mogwai, Arab Strap and Franz Ferdinand.

There will also be a live performance from Scottish stars including Alex Kapranos and Stuart Braithwaite.

As well as enjoying screenings at the GFT, the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Cineworld and the Grosvenor, audiences can also savour films in more unusual locations at pop-up cinemas from the slope at the Snow Factor to the Barras Art and Design centre.

About 40,000 people attended the 2016 festival, with organisers expecting a similar audience this year.

Festival co-director Allan Hunter said: “It’s always great to get to the opening night and kick it off.

“We’ve got a really joyous, uplifting film as well that I think sets the tone.

“There are a lot of people talking at the moment about the misery and anxiousness in the world, so to kick-off with something optimistic and uplifting is a good choice.”

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