2014 IFFB gets underway tonight – some tips for getting the most bang for your buck

iffboston2014The 2014 edition of the Independent Film Festival of Boston gets underway this evening, and it’s going to be one of the best in recent memory. However, if you have a limited budget or limited time, one of the first things you should do is check as to what films already have distributors and which ones don’t, when the release date is, and what you might want to wait for to allow for the chance to see other films you might not have normally checked out.

Several films that are showing during the fest, for instance, will be out in theaters and on OnDemand in a month or less. In fact, tonight’s opening night film, the already critically acclaimed thriller Beneath The Harvest Sky,  is already available on VOD, having hit the system last Friday. There is nothing quite like seeing a film on the big screen, of course, but if you aren’t lucky enough to nab one of the few tickets left for opening night, at least you have the option.

A number of films have similar close windows to theaters and VOD, and this year, it’s influencing our picks for films to see because that way, we can concentrate on films we are not sure have been picked up yet that we otherwise might miss.

Some of our picks this year are films that are making their way to Boston for the first time, having premiered at Toronto or Sundance, and that have been waited for with baited breath. But others are completely off the wall, films we’ve never heard of before that we think sound really good or a lot fun.

My top five narratives to check out:

The Double, featuring Jesse Eisenberg in a dual role as a meek office worker and a new man at the office who looks just like him, based on the classic novel by Dostoevsky; the critics at Toronto ate this one up and I can’t wait to see it.

Boyhood, director Richard Linklater’s 12 year odyssey through the actual growing up process – he shot for two weeks each year for the past 12 years to capture the real growth of it’s young star and the aging of the actors cast as the parents. This concept has me very intrigued and interested.

A Is For Alex, a low budget comedy about a young inventor facing the challenges of fatherhood starring Alex Orr.

Starred Up, winner of several BAFTAs  (the UK’s Oscar equivalent) this year, and with a riveting cast headed up by 2010 PNR Poppy award winner for Best Actor,  Ben Mendelsohn, as a hardened long term prison inmate whose estranged son’s violent behavior has now landed him in the same prison.

Locke, a one man show for Tom Hardy – the entire film takes place as Hardy is driving from one point to another during the film, dealing with all manners of issues in his life.

My top five documentary picks this year:

Rich Hill, the 2014 Sundance winner for Best Documentary, and a film I’ve already seen at this year’s Salem Film Fest, it is a riveting and heartbreaking account of the lives of three teen boys in the small town of Rich Hill, Missouri. This is an absolute MUST SEE – get tickets if you can – you will laugh..and yes, you WILL cry as well…an absolutely UNBELIEVABLE film.

The Search for General Tso, a lighthearted exploration of Chinese food in America and how it has evolved over the years through the exploration of one of the most popular dishes available – the sweet and often spicy General Tso’s Chicken.

Fight Church, the story of how a group of pastors have incorporated mixed martial arts in their ministry and how they use it.

Freeload, focusing on a group of modern-day hobos, train riders who talk about the allure of the road- been waiting for this one since the January fest circuit.

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, an already critically acclaimed documentary about one of the founders of Reddit, his endless (and many say illegal) prosecution by the FBI, and his eventual suicide and how it came about.

And these films don’t even begin to scratch the surface – there are so many more films out there that are worthy of your attention. Every day during the festival, eCinemaBoston and Indie Film Spotlight will have your daily calendar and highlight our pick of the day for you to check out. We’ll also have complete coverage of the festival on our annual Boston Springs A Fethival podcast on Subject:CINEMA, available May 11th.

We hope to see you all at the IFFB this year – we’ll probably be mostly at features showing at the Somerville Theatre, but IFFB also has selections at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, and at UMass Boston in Boston.

Here’s to another great IFFB – we’ll see YOU at the movies!