Glasgow Film Festival provides “cinema for all”, according to the festival’s co-director, Allison Gardner. This is just one of the many qualities that the event’s organisers hope will bring in visitors from near and far.

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival will be taking place from the 16th to the 26th February. It has run since 2005 and has a reputation for bringing together a whole host of talent and cinematic brilliance.

Glaswegian warmth and down-to-earth openness are key selling points for the festival. Allison Gardner herself says, “there’s no snobbery or pretension about what we put on”. Consistent with the artsy and creative feel that the city has become known for, they aim to recognise every film for its merit alone, not based on its prestigious cast or famous director. While many film festivals, like the Cannes Film Festival, are too far away and too expensive for most film lovers, Glasgow aims to offer tickets that won’t break the bank, in a quintessentially Scottish city that guests can really enjoy.

The Glasgow Film Festival is open to everyone from film-makers to film-fans, locals to tourists. While the government is currently excluding ex-pats from having the right to vote on the referendum regarding Scottish independence (likely to take place in 2014), this film festival has none of those restrictions. Audiences can enjoy exploring some unique and unusual locations used for screenings and exhibitions, in an intimate atmosphere that you would struggle to find in other film festivals. Previously two significant spaces have been a caravan in 2010 and a swimming pool in 2011 – where else but Scotland would this happen?

In addition to the main event, a number of smaller festivals are running as well, before the 16th. The Glasgow Youth Film Festival is designed to appeal to younger audiences and takes place from the 5th to 15th February. Designed by teenagers, this mini-festival aims to offer youngsters the opportunity to learn about the magic of film from industry professionals. In 2011 Hamish Gibson from Oban, a member of the Glasgow Youth Film Festival’s Youth Team won the right to represent the UK at Venice Film Festival. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people, ensuring that the creativity and uniqueness of Glasgow and the surrounding area is allowed to flourish.

This year’s Glasgow Short Film Festival will be the biggest to date, with more than 150 films showing at 53 events. Running between 9th and 12th February, the festival will feature live performances, master classes and everything to do with short film, so that those who are interested can really get stuck in, in true Scottish style.

Highlights from this year’s main event include A Boy and His Samurai, which has made it onto many ‘Best of 2011’ lists in the US despite only having been shown at film festivals. Audiences can also see This Must Be the Place, featuring Sean Penn as a bored rock star who searches for the ex-Nazi war criminal who killed his father. One of the bigger films that fans will be able to catch during the festival is Twilight star Robert Pattinson’s new film Bel Ami, in which he plays scoundrel Georges Duroy in an adaptation of the novel by Guy de Maupassant. A highlight of the Youth Film Festival is Being Elmo, a heart-warming documentary that follows the man behind the Sesame Street character and reminds us we should all have faith in our dreams.

The Glasgow Film Festival makes the city come alive with creativity and talent, all revolving around a shared love of cinema. Glasgow, and Scotland in general, is becoming much more prominent on the film map and has recently been used as a location for big Hollywood productions such as World War Z with Brad Pitt and Cloud Atlas starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. With Brave, an animated film starring Scottish actors and set in the Highlands coming out later this year, it looks as though this popularity is not going to decline any time soon. This should mean the Glasgow Film Festival will become even bigger in the future and that the wonderful atmosphere of the city can be experienced by many more people in years to come.

Get tickets for the Glasgow Film Festival here.

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