IFFB ’12 offers best lineup in history

The 10th anniversary edition of the Independent Film Festival Of Boston gets underway April 25-May2, and the film lineup was announced a couple of days ago. And WHAT a lineup it is – easily the best lineup I can ever remember. A LOT of really great films heading to a festival venue this year.

As always, films in the IFFB lineup will show at numerous venues in the greater metro area, with a few films at Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre, and the bulk of the lineup at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge and the Somerville Theatre in Somerville (well, duh…).

You can check out the complete lineup of films here, and they should update with times and venues later this week.

In the meantime – here are my picks for what NOT to miss if you can help, and what to check out if you can, based on personal recommendations to me and extensive research on the various 100+ films coming to the festival. Descriptions for all films are from the IFFB Website, with occasional comments by yours truly in parentheses.

NOT TO MISS – NARRATIVE

I WISH – In the latest film by director Hirokazu Kore Eda (STILL WALKING), Koichi sets out on a journey with a group of friends, each hoping to witness a miracle that will improve their difficult lives. (TC sez: this Japanese film was brought to my attention via Film Comment several months ago, and sounds really cool)

KEYHOLE – In Guy Maddin’s supernatural tale, a gangster (Jason Patric) returns home after a shootout and takes a ghostly, surreal journey through a labyrinth of haunted rooms to find his mourning wife (Isabella Rossellini). (TC sez: Guy Maddin’s latest opus – PLUS the MAN himself in person –  ’nuff said)

THE LONELIEST PLANET – Newly engaged, Nica (Hani Furstenberg) and Alex (Gael García Bernal) go backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains with a hired local guide. Amid the vast landscape, a momentary misstep threatens to reveal the fragility of their relationship.

NOBODY WALKS – Sexually charged drama about a young experimental filmmaker (Olivia Thirlby) whose visit to Los Angeles to complete her film disrupts the idyllic domesticity of her host family (John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt). Directed by Ry Russo-Young; co-written by Lena Dunham (TINY FURNITURE). (TC Sez: great cast (John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Jane Levy), decent notices at other festivals)

NOT TO MISS – DOCUMENTARIES 

BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING – A funny, irreverent, and inspirational look into the life and times of one of America’s most important artists, Wayne White.

BURN – Detroit as told through the eyes of Detroit firefighters, who are on the front lines charged with the thankless task of saving a city—and an American Dream—that many have written off as dead. Narrated by Denis Leary.

THE IMPOSTER – In 1994, a 13 year-old boy disappears from his home in Texas. Three years later, the family receives a call that he’s been found alive, in Spain. What follows is a riveting tale filled with astounding twists that rival any fictional thriller.

JASON BECKER: NOT DEAD YET  – Musical prodigy Jason Becker has been battling ALS for more than 22 years. Using an eye communication system, Jason is able to escape the confines of his own body and release the music that is trapped inside his mind. (TC Sez: as of this writing it is currently standing at a perfect 10 on IMDB thanks to SXSW showings)

ONE NIGHT STAND – A funny behind-the-scenes journey from blank page to live stage, as top Broadway and TV writers, actors, and directors produce original short musicals in 24 hours. Features Richard Kind, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Rachel Dratch.

PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE – (a HUGE hit in Toronto last fall) – Paul Williams was one of the biggest, most ubiquitous stars of the 70’s. Then, in the 80’s, he just disappeared. For a long time, many people assumed he was dead. It turns out he’s not.

THE REVISIONARIES – The Texas State Board of Education’s hearings on the textbook standards of public schools develops into a charged debate over the teaching of religion in science and history classes.

QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (Opening night doc at 2012 Sundance) – A character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis.

CATCH ‘EM IF YOU CAN: NARRATIVE

DARK HORSE – Todd Solondz critiques the “man-child” movie trend with a protagonist who never redeems himself and a screwed-up love interest. Stars Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, and Mia Farrow.

FAIRHAVEN – In this naturalistic drama, a southern Mass native returns to his hometown after years away, and the circle of friends he left behind must deal with unfinished business. Stars Chris Messina and Sarah Paulson.

FOR ELLEN – With his head firmly floating in the clouds, struggling musician Joby (Paul Dano) hasn’t been around to be a dad, and now is his last chance to fight for shared custody of his daughter, Ellen.

FRANCINE – Academy Award winner Melissa Leo gives a fierce and restrained performance as Francine, a woman struggling to find her place in a downtrodden lakeside town after leaving behind a life in prison.

GAYBY -Best friends since college, Jenn (straight, single) and Matt (gay, heartbroken), decide to have a child together—by having sex. An irreverent comedy about friendship, growing older, and the family you choose.

SUN DON’T SHINE – Two lovers on the back roads of Florida do very bad things.

V/H/S – When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more horrifying found footage than they bargained for. (One of THE Most talked about found footage horror films in years, generating buzz like nothing since The Blair Witch Project 13 years ago)

WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Andrea Arnold’s (FISH TANK) bracingly modern style creates a beautiful and evocative visual masterpiece that brings out the powerful emotions at the heart of Emily Brontë’s classic novel.

CATCH ‘EM IF YOU CAN – DOCUMENTARIES

ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA – Is nuclear power part of America’s energy future? Activists and experts debate whether or not man can responsibly split the atom.

CENTRAL PARK EFFECT -Reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan’s celebrated patch of green and the equally colorful New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration.

DETROPIA – Detroit is emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. Is it actually a canary in the American coal mine? A cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

GIRL MODEL – An ambivalent model scout scours the Siberian countryside for fresh faces, while one of her thirteen year-old discoveries navigates the Tokyo modeling industry alone.

JEFF – The infamous Jeffrey Dahmer case as told through the eyes of the medical examiners, police detectives, neighbors, and everyday citizens of Milwaukee who were directly affected by it.

LOVE AND OTHER ANXIETIES – How do we choose to marry? And what happens when, decades into a relationship, that question is still alive? A personal exploration of the meaning of love and long-term commitment.

This is just scratching the surface so be sure to check out the IFFB website via the link above and check out the WHOLE lineup…it’s friggin’ AWESOME…

Oh, one quick caveat: last year, I got sucked into the Sundance-fueled hype and overabundant praise surrounding director/writer Miranda July’s project, The Future, which I couldn’t wait to see based on what I’d heard,  and which after viewing it subsequently branded the WORST FILM of 2011.  This year, the buzz surrounding two films is too good to be true, so if you must, go right ahead, but be wary of Josh Radnor’s directorial debut LIBERAL ARTS and the latest film from comedian Bobcat Goldwaith, GOD BLESS AMERICA…the buzz surrounding both of these films is more than likely more hype than true praise…and remember, I’ve seen The Future and know they can keep it…

Kim and I hope to see you all at the IFFB this year – we’ll post a list of films we’re attending in a couple weeks…but if you see us, please stop and say “HI!” We’ll be providing extensive coverage of the festival here on BP, as well as on our sister sites Popcorn N Roses, Subject:CINEMA and Indie Film Spotlight. And don’t forget to check out our overview of the entire festival on Subject: CINEMA’s “Boston Springs A Fethival” special in May!

 

 

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