The final cog in the 2017 Boston Springs A Fethival season, Independent Film Festival Boston, taking place April 26-May 3, announced its line up yesterday. Please know that I am speaking about everything in this article from a personal standpoint as a film lover, a film critic, and not representing either our sites as a whole or anyone else who contributes. Having said that, I have to admit that I have greeted the announcement with a moderate sized yawn…but with more than a spark of curiosity about certain titles in the lineup as well…definitely a good thing…
Don’t get me wrong – there are always lots of great films here. But for my own closely tabulated personal watch list, only TWO films on the announced list are films I’ve been personally anxious to see. So we’ll start there…
The first is Dean, the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival’s winner for Best Narrative Feature, marking the directorial debut of actor/comedian Demetri Martin, as well as being the writer and star. The film chronicles the title character’s attempts to deal with the death of his mother by taking a spontanious road trip to try and kickstart his life again. Co starring Kevin Kline as Dean’s father, the film has been pegged as a possible sleeper hit, and opens in limited release on June 2.
The other is Dealt, one of the most buzzed about films at this year’s just-concluded SXSW festival in Austin. This documentary introduces us to Richard Turner, who many say is the world’s best-ever card-trick magician…and who happens to be completely blind. I love underdog stories, and this one has been on my radar since it was announced for SXSW.
There are a number of films that have been making waves on the fest circuit over the past few months that are coming as well, but that I personally am taking a “wait and see” approach on, having been badly burned by good buzz from various fests in the past only to find particular films unwatchable. Beach Rats, about a Brooklyn teen searching for his personal identity, won the Directing award at Sundance in January, and got good buzz from the crowds there. So did PattiCake$, a drama about a New Jersey girl looking to make it in the rap music business; it presently has a scheduled release date of July 7. Dayveon has also been getting good buzz since Sundance, the story of a 13 year old trying to deal with his older brother’s death and getting involved in a gang while living in a rural Arkansas town. And Gook, written by, directed by, and starring Twilight alum Justin Chon, has been getting more notoriety for its use of an offensive Asian slur as its title than for its story, about relations between Korean and African American communities set during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. It does, however, have a huge 8.8 on IMDb, which says that its pleasing the people who are seeing it. Finally, Whose Streets goes into the back story of the death of Ferguson MO teen Mike Brown, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
Two films have guaranteed built-in audiences because of the people involved. The Trip To Spain, from director Michael Winterbottom, re-teams comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in the sequel to their hit series The Trip and its theatrical follow up The Trip To Italy. And always reliable documentary filmmaker Steve James is represented with Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, the story of the only company indicted in the 2008 US financial crisis.
When it comes to the doc lineup, curiosity has my nose twitching with interest about Letting Go Of Adele, the story of a service dog and how one woman dealt with having to let go of the companion that changed her life; Spettacolo, a recent SXSW premiere, the story of how a town in Tuscany dealt with problems in their midst by turning real life into a play; Edgar Allen Poe: Buried Alive, which looks at how Poe often became his own greatest mystery, from writer/directer Eric Stange, and likely to be one of Kim’s choices this year at IFFB; and surfing doc The Crest.
The fest will open with Stumped, from director Robin Berghaus, a documentary about filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser, who turned to stand-up comedy as therapy when he lost all of his limbs, and who later agreed to a risky experimental operation to give him new arms. I don’t know much about this film, but it sounds like a real gem to open the fest with – Hub audiences love these kinds of stories.
Closing Night Film will be Band Aid, written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones, who also co-stars in this comedy of a couple who can’t stop fighting and decide to combat their marriage ills by…forming a band together?!?! Wow, ok, this one sounds out there, and also really interesting.
There will also be a Documentary Spotlight for The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography, from the always reliable and entertaining outlook of director Erroll Morris.
The full titles list is below (except for opening, closing, and documentary spotlight noted above); IFFB’s website will have film and scheduling info up in the next few days. Until then, sit back, check out the titles, pick out what sounds intriguing to you, and get prepared! IFFB runs April 26-May 3 at Somerville Theatre in Somerville (not Boston), Brattle Theatre in Cambridge (not Boston), Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline (again, NOT BOSTON!!), and a screening or two at UMass Boston in …OMG – BOSTON! YAY! (Well, ok, Dorchester, but it’s a part of Boston, the other three are technically not..and yes, I rag on they and all the other festivals every year over this technicality, all in fun, of course…heh heh heh!)
Passes and memberships for IFFB are available now; tickets for members are scheduled to go on sale APril 6 and to the public April 10. Hedge your bets and invest in a membership – you get all kinds of extra perks throughout the year if you do. Granted they can be kinda pricey, but they wouldn’t be able to do all they do without your support, because IFFB is an all-volunteer festival!
We’ll no doubt see you around the IFFB later this month – be sure to say “Hi” if you spot us (we’re kind of hard to miss). We’ll have daily schedule updates during the festival itself. And don’t forget, IFFB will be a part of Subject:CINEMA‘s huge two-day, two-show Double Feature Boston Springs A Fethival weekend May 20-21 at our parent site eCinemaOne as well as right here at eCinemaBoston!
LA BARRACUDA directed by Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin
BEACH RATS directed by Eliza Hittman
COLUMBUS directed by Kogonada
DAYVEON directed by Amman Abbasi
DEAN directed by Demetri Martin
GOOK directed by Justin Chon
HEDGEHOG directed by Lindsey Copeland
THE HERO directed by Brett Haley
THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES directed by Jim Strouse
LANDLINE directed by Gillian Robespierre
LEMON directed by Janicza Bravo
THE LITTLE HOURS directed by Jeff Baena
LOST IN PARIS directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon
MENASHE directed by Joshua Z Weinstein
PATTI CAKE$ directed by Geremy Jasper
SYLVIO directed by Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney
TRIP TO SPAIN directed by Michael Winterbottom
YOUTHMIN directed by Jeff Ryan, Arielle Cimino
ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL directed by Steve James
ANGELO UNWRITTEN directed by Alice Stone
BURDEN directed by Richard Dewey, Timothy Marrinan
CITY OF GHOSTS directed by Matthew Heineman
THE CREST directed by Mark Covino
DEALT directed by Luke Korem
DINA directed by Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles
DOLORES directed by Peter Bratt
EDGAR ALLAN POE: BURIED ALIVE directed by Eric Stange
FINDING KUKAN directed by Robin Lung
FOR AHKEEM directed by Jeremy S. Levine & Landon Van Soest
FURUSATO directed by Thorsten Trimpop
LETTING GO OF ADELE directed by Melissa Dowler
MAINELAND directed by Miao Wang
OYATE directed by Dan Girmus
SPETTACOLO directed by Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen
STEP directed by Amanda Lipitz
STREET FIGHTING MEN directed by Andrew James
SWIM TEAM directed by Lara Stolman
TROPHY directed by Christina Clusiau, Shaul Schwarz
WHOSE STREETS directed by Sabaah Folayan, Sabaah Jordan