Girl by Adura Onasile
Déborah Lukumuena and Le’Shantey Bonsu in Girl by Adura Onasile | Photo by Saskia Coulson

Following its World premiere at Sundance, Adura Onashile’s Glasgow-shot debut feature Girl will make its UK premiere as the opening film of Glasgow Film Festival 2023.

In the film, Grace (Déborah Lukumuena) and her 11 year-old daughter Ama (Le’Shantey Bonsu) are trying to build a new life in Glasgow, a city where everything feels strange and hostile. Traumatized by her past, Grace just wants to keep her daughter safe from harm. Ama is told to trust nobody. When Ama makes friends with a classmate, it only adds to Grace’s anxiety and fear that their special bond is under threat.

This atmospheric and poignant tale of what it takes to escape the legacy of violence and trust in the future marks Glasgow-based writer-director Onashile as an exciting new voice in Scottish cinema.

Glasgow Film Festival 2023 also revealed the first titles including this year’s Country Focus: Viva el cine español! featuring On The Fringe with Penélope Cruz and Luis Tosar, Prison 77 and Lullaby, championed as one of the best debut in Spanish cinema for years by Pedro Almodóvar.

GFF’s free retrospective, In The Driving Seat, features stories of women on journeys of self-discovery and adventure. Films include It Happened One Night, The Piano and Roman Holiday.

The Festival will also celebrate the documentary work of American actor/director Lee Grant, survivor of the anti-communist blacklist of the 1950s.

2023’s program will include Looking for America: The Films of Lee Grant, a celebration of the documentary work of this extraordinary actor/director. Grant’s inspirational career began with her Oscar-nominated film debut in Detective Story (1951) before being halted by the anti-Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. She was blacklisted for 12 years, returning to star in a string of iconic films including In the Heat of the Night, Valley of the Dolls, The Landlord and Shampoo, for which she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

In the 1980s, Grant began directing documentaries that were decades ahead of their time. She brought curiosity and compassion to sharply observed accounts of social issues, the inequalities facing women and the state of America during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. Down And Out In America won the Oscar for Best Documentary and Grant was also the first female director to win the Directors Guild Of America Award.

GFF23 will screen five of her documentaries: Battered, Down and Out in America, What Sex Am I?, When Women Kill and The Willmar 8.

Also returning is GFF’s popular Retrospective strand, which screens 10 free films during the festival. In the Driving Seat showcases films featuring women who take charge of their lives, setting off into the unknown; seeking adventure, freedom and self-discovery. The films selected span more than eight decades and range from Claudette Colbert as a runaway heiress in It Happened One Night and Holly Hunter’s intrepid Scotswoman in The Piano to Audrey Hepburn’s incognito princess in Roman Holiday and Faye Dunaway’s Depression-era bank robber in Bonnie And Clyde. 

GFF23 will sadly be the final edition with Allan Hunter as Festival Co-Director, a role he has held since 2007.

GFF Co-director Allan Hunter said, “It has been one of the great privileges of my career to be part of the Glasgow Film Festival for the past 15 years. It has been humbling to witness how the Festival has grown and to discover just how much is it cherished by our incredible audiences. Everything has its season and it is time to move along. Time for someone with fresh ideas and energy to assist the Festival on the next stage of its journey. I will miss wonderful colleagues and the best audiences in the world but I look forward to watching the festival continue to grow and prosper.”

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