What should you see at this year’s Independent Film Festival of Boston? The answer is everything, but with venues all over town each showing such equally deserving films at once, that is the least helpful way to look at things.The two questions you should be asking instead are: What do I have to see, and what do I have to see right now, before the rest of the world.
Founded in 2003, IFFBoston is equal parts cinephile’s dream and outgrowth of the Boston film community’s solidarity where many might see competition. For an entire week, the Somerville, Brattle, and Coolidge Corner Theatres all unite under a single banner, maximizing the audience’s options in a massive city-wide celebration of independent cinema of all types, scales, budgets and points of origin.
The best way to go into IFFBoston is knowing ahead of time that while you cannot see everything, there are some nights that only feature one film while other films can be caught more than once. After you see the already controversial The End of the Tour (wherein Jason Segel plays David Foster Wallace) on Wednesday, your week will be full of difficult but important choices. For the first of two time slots on Thursday, we’re most looking forward to documentary The Amina Profile at 7:00, which examines how an American blogger manipulated the world while posing as a gay Syrian woman in the midst of war. During this time, you can also catch Boston-based director Andrew Bujalski’s self-improvement-as-catharsis romance Results, or catch one of two presentations of BAFTA-winner John MacLean’s frontier film Slow West starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee. That night, we recommend either Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden or the first of many shorts programs to come.
Friday is full of choices, but two films are too unique to miss. First up is Do I Sound Gay?, an examination of “gay voice” and the accompanying stereotypes and struggles, directed by David Thorpe and produced by Dan Savage of the Savage Love podcast. That night, though They Look Like People seems good and creepy and 61 Bullets is vital, it is also the premiere of the potentially stunning The Tribe, which takes place in a Ukrainian school for the deaf and uses sign language with no voice over as its primary means of communication.
The weekend slate is too jam packed to base recommendations off of anything but personal preference, but please consider giving priority to Call Me Lucky on Saturday at 7:00. Bobcat Goldthwait’s portrait of legendary Boston comedian and activist Barry Crimmins is a must-see even if you already know Barry’s story and personality, and doubly so if you do not. Also on Saturday’s lineup is GTFO, an examination of women in an increasingly hostile video game culture. The day comes to a pulpy conclusion with either Deathgasm or Jason Schwartzman vehicle 7 Chinese Brothers. Sunday also has Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece (not “sequel”) to the greatest documentary of the decade so far, The Act of Killing, while we’ll spend our morning with one of the most baffling politicians in the world, Geng Yanbo, in truth-is-stranger-than-fiction doc The Chinese Mayor.
Monday, you can find us at either The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution or Al Pacino’s return to form, Manglehorn, as we then feed our hopes for a Dredd sequel with Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD. The higher profile films once again take center stage on Tuesday and Wednesday, and you’ll likely be hearing about I’ll See You in My Dreams and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in coming months. Yet we would not be doing our job as film lovers if we didn’t single out The Wolfpack, a documentary that follows brothers who painstakingly reenact films armed with nothing more than time and imaginative use of props.
The best thing about IFFBoston isn’t even that they show so many great movies. It’s that even if you entirely reject all of our suggestions and just wander randomly into screenings guided by nothing at all, you’ll still have a deeply satisfying experience that was entirely different than your fellow festivalgoers. If you love movies on any level, you belong at IFFBoston. And if you don’t love movies, well … start, and go anyway.
April 22 – 29
55 Davis Square
40 Brattle St., Cambridge
Coolidge Corner Theater
290 Harvard St., Brookline
This post also appears on scoutcambridge.com.