Janey Godley documentary to close Glasgow Film Festival | Plus movies about Billy Connolly and Louis CK

Janey Godley documentary to close Glasgow Film Festival

Plus movies about Billy Connolly and Louis CK

A documentary about Janey Godley, her comedy and her cancer, is to close the Glasgow Film Festival, it has been announced.

The event will also host the UK premiere of Sorry/Not Sorry, about Louis CK’s sexual misconduct, and a newly restored version of a rarely-seen Billy Connolly documentary.

The 78-minute film about Godley, entitled simply Janey,  follows the stand-up on her Not Dead Yet tour around Scotland as she is treated for terminal ovarian cancer, culminating in an emotional show at Glasgow's 3,000-seat SEC Armadillo.

Described as ‘honest, moving and often hilarious, the movie will get its premiere at a screening at the Glasgow Film Festival on March 10.

In it, 63-year-old Godley also reflects on being cancelled when old racist tweets were unearthed, costing the comic her job as the face of a Scottish government health campaign. ‘First I was cancelled, then I got cancer,’ she says.

Director John ​Archer interweaves fly-on-the-wall footage with interviews from people such as Jimmy Carr, Nicola Sturgeon, and Janey's daughter, Ashley [Storrie, also a comedian].

It also discusses Godley’s difficult Glasgow childhood, suffering sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle and having to come to terms with her mother's murder. She addresses such dark topics in her stand-up, which she took up in 1994, when she was in her 30s, later giving up her job as a pub landlady to follow her new career.

After establishing herself on the stand-up and festival circuit, Godley came to greater prominence when she protested Donald Trump's visit to Scotland in 2016, with an ‘unwelcome’ sign on his golf course. She continued to grow her social media profile as she re-voiced First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid briefings

In an interview with the BBC, Godley says it was Storrie’s idea to make the film, with her daughter telling her: ‘If this is going to be your last hurrah, let’s capture it on film.’

She said she was happy to put anything on screen, including visits to the oncology ward, saying: ‘ I think if you’re going to do this, you are either all in or you're out, and I was in. If I was dying, I’d have let the cameras in to see it.’

Of the racist tweets which emerged in 2021, she admits: ‘I made some horrible mistakes. And I learned that wee white, middle-aged women like me think they can say things and people won’t take it badly, they can’t.

‘Just because everyone knows you’re not racist, just because everyone knows you marched against fascism, doesn’t mean you can open your mouth and say things and hope it’ll be accepted.

She said the backlash on social media made her suicidal, but the response from audiences at her gigs spurred her to carry on.

Godley also vowed: ‘I still stand by really offensive jokes and I won’t stop making them. If people are scared of hurty words, don’t come and see comedy. It’s not as if I’m shouting it through your letterbox.’

After the documentary’s premiere it will be released in cinemas across the UK from March 15. Godley will perform stand-up   at some screenings in Scotland.

Director John ​Archer was the founding chief executive of Scottish Screen, the head of music and arts at BBC Scotland, and a Bafta-winning television producer for BBC news review programme Did You See before running Glasgow-based Hopscotch Films, which has made a series of documentaries. 

The Glasgow Film Festival will also screen a new restoration of Billy Connolly: Big Banana Feet, a rarely-seen documentary shot during his 1975 tour of Ireland.

It has been restored by the BFI in collaboration with director Murray Grigor from the only 16mm print known to exist, and will be screened on March 3 and 4.

Meanwhile, Sorry/Not Sorry, from directors Caroline Suh and Cara Mones investigates the effects Louis CK’s comedy comeback had on those who came forward to expose his behaviour.

The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. It features comic Jen Kirkman, one of the first to raise public questions about CK,  Megan Koester, who also joked onstage about his behaviour, and Michael Schur, who cast him in Parks and Recreation.

It will be screened in Glasgow on March 8 and 9.

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Published: 24 Jan 2024

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