Boston is truly an accommodating city for the avid film fan. Alongside the plethora of massive chain theaters reside an impressive smattering of independent theaters, catering to smaller release films and enough repertory screenings to keep even the most avid cinephile satisfied. Even during the cinematic graveyard of January and February, the Boston film scene will assuredly help you forge through to a much more pleasant time.
While Boston may not have a SXSW, Sundance, or Cannes, it does boast many a film festival. Boston Underground Film Festival (which we covered this year) is there for the more genre-centric fare and other festivals like Boston LGBT Film Festival, The Boston Jewish Film Festival, amongst many many others, fill the cultural film festival box. However, overshadowing these many festivals is the premiere Boston based film festival: Independent Film Festival Boston.
The fest often brings some of the best of emerging independent cinema, boasting many Sundance, SXSW, and Slamdance vets, accounting for more than a handful of area premieres and the occasional world premiere. This is a fest driven by a love for the medium, something made all the more apparent buy its entirely volunteer staff (yes, even the programmers don’t get paid). In Boston, this is the time to catch your first glimpse at the best of independent cinema, from documentary to shorts. Last year alone featured films like Dear White People, Obvious Child, Overnighters, and Boyhood. To help you decide which of the over 100 films to catch over the fest’s seven days, here are some of my most anticipated.
The cast list alone is enough to convince most to see this one. Led by Kodi Smit-McPhee, this Western also has Ben Mendelsohn, Michael Fassbender, and Rory McCann. The debut feature for writer-director John Maclean is a melancholy mixture of coming-of-age and violent thriller with the backdrop of the American frontier. It is also coming out of Sundance having won World Cinema – Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, which isn’t nothing.
Somerville Theatre, Friday April 24 9:15 PM
This is one of those films that you see partially because there is little else like it. The debut feature of Ukranian writer-director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy tells the story of a deaf teenager struggling to fit into a new boarding school. For most, the film is an experience that can only be possible through film, with all dialogue communicated through sign language with no subtitles. The Tribe won a slew of awards at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week and Drafthouse Films has picked up US distribution rights (usually a pretty good sign).
Welcome to Leith
Somerville Theatre, Saturday April 25 4:45 PM
Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker’s documentary chronicles the attempt of white supremacist Craig Cobb to takeover a small North Dakota town. Depicting the ugly side of American desire and the villainy possible in the people that make up our reality, Welcome to Leith is sure to flirt with the line separating documentary and flat out horror.
The Look of Silence
Brattle Theatre, Sunday April 26 6:00 PM
Joshua Oppenheimer follows up his riveting and disturbingly mesmerizing The Act of Killing (2013 IFFBoston alum) with this look at the other side of the Indonesian killings of 1965-66. If you somehow missed The Act of Killing, go on Netflix and fix that right away. The film is a terrifying, captivating, and fantastically assembled to the point that you cannot help but carry it with you long after it ends. The Look of Silence is sure to be just as fascinating.
The Primary Instinct
Somerville Theatre, Sunday April 26 7:30 PM
For those faithful listeners of David Chen’s The Tobolowsky Files podcast there is no need to sell this film to you. For the others, get ready to be amazed at the spell-binding storytelling abilities of prolific character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. In addition, the film’s director David Chen is a Boston native and used to cover this very festival for SlashFilm. It is sure to be a wonderful homecoming with both Chen and Tobolowsky in attendance.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Tuesday April 28 9:45 PM
The Angulo brothers sit locked away in a Lower East Side Manhattan apartment. The only connection the brothers have with the outside world is the many films that they watch and reenact using any homemade props they can muster. The Sundance U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize follows the siblings as one escapes into the real world.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Wednesday April 29 7:30 PM
The IFFBoston team may have outdone themselves this year for the Closing Night film. In description, the film smacks of quirk and melancholy, but it is sure to be so much more. This year’s ultimate Sundance darling, winning both the Jury Prize and Audience Award, it has been described as both charming and inventive. This is how you want to end a fest.