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Creator of Buffy to give film festival an ending with a bite

THE biggest-ever Glasgow Film Festival, which hopes to attract 35,000 visitors, will open with a stylish French comedy and close with the new movie from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Joss Whedon, who created the popular series about a teenage vampire killer, is to introduce his new version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

The festival will run from February 14 to February 24 in 27 venues across the city.

Now in its ninth incarnation, it has a total of 368 events, including 57 UK premieres and six world premieres.

They include Kevin Cameron's film about the artist and writer Alasdair Gray, May Miles Thomas's take on Glasgow's "secret geometry" in The Devil's Plantation, and We Are Northern Lights, the film made from homemade submissions from people from across Scotland.

It also features UK premieres including Stoker, with Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman, Ryan Gosling's The Place Beyond the Pines, The Look of Love by Michael Winterbottom which stars Steve Coogan, and the first public UK screening of Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, which was partly shot in Glasgow.

First Minister Alex Salmond will also be introducing one of his favourite "geek" films.

The festival's co-directors, Allison Gardner and Allan Hunter, say the event is focused on its paying customers. Ms Gardner said of Whedon's film: "My daughter and I love Buffy, so I thought 'I must go and see it'.

"It is shot in his Santa Monica house, which is lovely, with actors he likes and who are brilliant in it, and it looks gorgeous in crisp black and white. I thought 'what a great closing movie'. We think he is coming to Glasgow."

Of the UK premiere opening film, Populaire, which stars Deborah Francois, Roman Duris and The Artist's Berenice Bejo, she said: "It's a beautiful, French film with a good story and perfect for Valentine's Day."

Ms Gardner said distributors liked what they called the "Glasgow response" to movies.

She said: "They feel they are getting a true look at what audiences will come and see because the audience has paid for the tickets, rather than it being an audience full of critics and journalists. They think our audiences are smart and critically aware."

She does not regard it as being in competition with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which has more of a focus on the film industry and delegates.

More unusual parts of the festival include a mystery film in the Subway, as well as a first screening in Glasgow Cathedral of The Passion of Joan of Arc.

There will also be the showing of eight new silent films at the Grand Central Hotel at the Entre Chien Et Loup event curated by the artist Henry Coombes.

Scots actor James Cosmo will be in conversation about his life while actors from popular tele-vision show Game of Thrones will introduce an episode and launch its third series.

Robert Florence, of BBC Scotland's Burnistoun, will team up with the festival for a strand celebrating computer gaming.

There will also be a James Cagney retrospective, a focus on Brazilian cinema, and a new festival club at the Centre for Contemporary Arts. A short film festival runs from February 7 to February 10 and a youth film festival runs from February 3 to February 13.

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