MovieMaker magazine says Boston’s festivals “not premiere-calibre”…Are you KIDDING?

iffblogo2011I admit that over the past two months, I have been lax in the posting department on this site because of illness –  I have been constantly fighting severe colds and it has taken its toll on me.

But imagine my stunned surprise when I opened up the latest issue of MovieMaker magazine which arrived this morning, and found Boston ranked seventh on the magazines list of “Top Ten Cities To Be A Filmmaker In” cover article.

Sure, it wasn’t a surprise to find Austin, TX and New York City ranked one and two, and I wasn’t even that stunned to find we ranked behind Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland – all three of those cities have rich film history behind them.

But to find Boston ranked 7th behind, of all places, Detroit at #6 – well, that kind of stunned me.  Detroit has been in bad financial trouble for most of the past decade. And a number of hugely popular documentaries have been made about the cities’ plight of late,  including Burn and Detropia.

But what stunned me was the REASON WHY Boston wasn’t ranked higher – quoting article author Kyle Rupprecht:

The only thing holding Boston back right now is resident moviemakers’ access to new work. There are great indie theaters like Coolidge Corner in Brookline, but there are no premiere-calibre film festivals in the entire area. Should the Boston or Boston International Film Festival raise their profiles, Beantown could best Detroit’s ranking.

Um…okay…

My dear friends at MovieMaker, you do realize that someone did NOT do their homework on this story as well as they should have, right? Boston most certainly DOES have “premiere-calibre” film festivals in the area.  And right at the top of the heap is one of the largest and fastest growing film festivals in the entire northeast, the Independent Film Festival of Boston.

This festival, held every year in late April and early May, has become a lightning rod for so-called “premiere-calibre” films. Filmmakers clamor to get accepted by IFFB; I’ve had several tell me that it can be as difficult to get accepted here as it is at Sundance, Tribeca, and Toronto. In 2012 alone,  the Fest’s 1oth Anniversary year, IFFB director Adam Roffman and his able-bodied team of people played host to over FOUR DOZEN films that were East Coast, New England, or Northeast premieres, including some of the year’s most critically-acclaimed films. How can you look at the list of films below that played at IFFB and say it’s “not premiere-calibre”?

Narratives:  2 Days In New York, For Ellen, Gayby, God Bless America, I Wish, Keyhole, Liberal Arts, The Loneliest Planet, Sleepwalk With Me, Trishna, V/H/S, Your Sister’s Sister

Documentaries: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Burn, Detropia, How To Survive A Plague, The Imposter, Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, Paul Williams Still Alive

And it also had the world premiere of the locally made All Ages: The Boston Hardcore Film. And that’s not even HALF of them. And did I mention that two of those doc titles are the aforementioned Detroit-based documentaries mentioned above – Burn and Detropia?

And why stop there? ALL of the local film festivals have had major premieres in the past 12 months. Boston Irish Film Festival had the Northeast premiere of Stella Days and the US Premiere of Beyond The Lamb; Boston Underground (one of the best genre fests in the entire country IMHO) hosted the Northeast premieres of John Dies At The End and Klovn (Klown);  Boston Film Festival the World Premiere of the critically acclaimed documentary Head Games and a specially arranged screening of The Sessions; and Boston Jewish had the Northeast premiere of Koch. And these are only a FEW of the titles.

Not to mention that Boston’s film community is a HUGE ONE – in addition to the immediate metro area, which does boast great venues like Coolidge Corner in Brookline, the Brattle and Kendall Square in Cambridge, and about a half-dozen smaller theaters in the ‘burbs, you can find a film festival of some kind, be it large or small, either inside the metro area or within two hours’ driving time from Boston an average of every other week or so throughout the year. This includes well-known festivals throughout Massachusetts like those in Provincetown, Woods Hole, Salem, Williamstown, Newburyport, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as in cities in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. But IFFB is quickly becoming one of the major festivals in North America, and has been attracting star power for its premieres almost since day one.

So, friends at MovieMaker, perhaps you’d better have your researchers do a little more…oh, I don’t know…RESEARCH next time. This Boston-based film critic and blogger thinks you have egg on your face. Filmmakers KNOW Boston is friendly to them – more than two dozen big-budget films have shot in the area over the past five years. But it’s completely WRONG of you to diss our festival scene. And we oughta know – our “Boston Springs A Fethival” podcast each May – covering the EXTREMELY busy Boston spring festival circuit – is always one of our most downloaded shows of the year….

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Article was revised on 1/15 to give credit to article author Kyle Rupprecht for his quote; previously the piece had incorrectly listed “editors at Moviemaker” as the quote source.

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