19 Movies to Watch: The 2015 Independent Film Festival Boston Preview

By at April 20, 2015 | 11:20 pm | Print

If you want quick proof that the Independent Film Festival Boston knows how to pick a perennially solid slate, just check your history. Over just the past few festivals, the IFFB has screened Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, The Imposter, The Queen of Versailles, The Spectacular Now, Submarine, and two of my personal indie favorites of the past decade, Littlerock and Bellflower. This is barely scratching the IFFB surface – and doesn’t take into account the festival’s long-standing inclusion of films with local ties or a strong Boston focus.

Stellar track record. So what’s up for IFFB 2015? Plenty of films you’ve heard of from earlier 2015 festivals – the social media swirl makes that happen that faster than ever – and entries that’ll be fresh for nearly all of us.

Someone once said that seeing great movies is easy. Fitting them into your schedule is hard. Hope this personal list helps.

:: Wednesday, April 22, 7:30pm
:: The End of the Tour
Somerville Theatre, Opening Night selection
This is director James Ponsoldt’s second run as IFFB Opening Night director (the first was the aforementioned The Spectacular Now), with his imagining of the short relationship between journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and the late, probably misunderstood author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel). Ponsoldt and Segel are scheduled to attend.
Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in The End of the Tour


:: Thursday, April 23, 7pm
:: Results

Somerville Theatre
Here’s how it works: If Boston filmmaker Andrew Bujalski has a screening, that’s my #1 movie choice for the evening. From his breakthrough slice of life Funny Ha Ha to the bizarrely mesmerizing Computer Chess, Bujalski has been a welcome IFFB regular. His latest features his most high-profile cast to date – Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi – in a story about a guy trying to turn himself around by way of the gym. Based on Bujalski’s previous work, I’m sure Results has plenty of intangibles that are tough to describe in one paragraph. At least, I hope it does. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

:: Thursday, 9:45pm
:: Dwarves Kingdom

Somerville Theatre
If you assume that, in a fairly capitalist nation of more than one billion people, the scope of entertainment options would be astounding, then this should come as little surprise (sorry): a royal fantasy theme park in Western China inhabited by and dedicated to little people. Dwarves Kingdom previously screened at Fantastic Fest 2014.


:: Friday, April 24, 7:30pm
:: The Overnight

Somerville Theatre
How strange can a Couples Night get? That’s what writer-director Patrick Brice would like to have you keep guessing in this curious comedy featuring Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black), Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman. Can’t you imagine these three actors playing a high level of awkward discomfort terribly well? Absolutely. If they start running down the street finding cloned versions of themselves, please quickly refer to this film. (Side note: Schwartzman will hit the IFFB twice this year, co-starring with his dog in 7 Chinese Brothers).
Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in The Overnight


:: Friday, 9:15pm
:: The Tribe (Plemya)
Somerville Theatre
One of the most acclaimed films of this year’s IFFB, this Ukranian drama won the Critics Week Grand Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. A young man’s indoctrination into a boarding school for the deaf involves his participation in gang activity. Said to be both oddly elegant – the only “verbal” communication is sign language, with no subtitles or translation – and horrifically hard to watch.



:: Saturday, April 25, 12pm
:: The Year We Thought About Love

Somerville Theatre
Start your IFFB day with the first show of the weekend, a homegrown documentary about a Boston theater troupe of LGBTQ youth of different races attempting to create a stage performance about love.

:: Saturday, 2:15pm
:: H.
Somerville Theatre
Some seriously freaky shit is going down in Troy, New York, where two women are losing their grip after a meteor (allegedly) skids into their city. This sci-fi thriller, starring the excellent character actor Robin Bartlett (Shutter Island, Inside Llewyn Davis) has played at Sundance and the Berlinale, and been recognized by Film Independent.


:: Saturday, 4:30pm
:: Best of Enemies
Brattle Theatre
There was a time, oh so long ago, when people of intellect and earned hubris could debate and the public was interested. Actually, it was 1968, and the people in question were Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr., whose highbrow televised tiff is the focus of this documentary co-directed by Oscar winner Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom). Sure is a far cry from the slobbery, cynical world of TV debate today. Or is it?

:: Saturday, 7:15pm
:: Morphine: Journey of Dreams
Brattle Theatre
Stay at the Brattle for the second recent IFFB documentary – yes, second – about Morphine, the beloved Boston band responsible for the most unique rock-blues sound of the last 30 years. Anyone who knows Boston music is well aware of the tragedy that befell the band and their close-knit musical family. And, to my mind, everyone should hear their music and its unlikely shot through the mainstream.

Jason Schwartzman in 7 Chinese Brothers:: Saturday, 10pm
:: 7 Chinese Brothers
Somerville Theatre
Why not see Jason Schwartzman on consecutive days? In this hangdog comedy, you’ll see a lot of him, as the actor appears in every scene as a drunk who’s trying to woo his boss, chill with his bulldog, and keep his grandma (Olympia Dukakis) happy. Directed by Bob Byington, whose Harmony and Me played at IFFB 2010, and who you’ve seen pop up in movies from notable indie films like Lawrence Michael Levine, Alex Ross Perry and Andrew Bujalski.


:: Sunday, April 26, 12:30pm
:: I Am What I Play

Somerville Theatre
I recommend you don’t budge from Screen 1 at the Somerville all day Sunday (well, yes, when they clear the theater after shows, please do as IFFB staff ask). But you’ll be rewarded with a highly anticipated lineup of documentaries.

Always known for programming top-flight music docs – even those that are rougher, maybe on the fringe – the festival leads off the day with this documentary about a bygone era when rock radio DJs had a voice. And an audience. Roger King’s loving look at the era follows four of the biggest personalities across the US, including Boston’s own Charles Laquidara, a guy that was part of my personal introduction to the city I’ve called home for almost 30 years.


:: Sunday, 3:30pm
:: Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play
Somerville Theatre
Fresh from a successful South by Southwest run comes this documentary based on the book “The Ball” from anthropologist (and my friend and colleague) John Fox, who also serves as Bounce’s co-writer and co-producer. This globetrotting chronicle of “why we play ball” goes beyond the expected to include lesser-known rituals and centuries-old games. Amazing photography, as I shared in this space during the production of Bounce. Director Jerome Thelia, cinematographer David McLain, and Fox are all scheduled to appear. Juggler from Bounce


:: Sunday, 7:30pm
:: The Primary Instinct
Somerville Theatre
You may know Dave Chen as one of the nation’s more prominent film podcasters with shows The /Filmcast and The Tobolowsky Files. He’s now directed a performance film based on the latter, featuring the impeccable storytelling of accomplished character actor Stephen Tobolowsky – who you’ve seen in just about everything on screen, from Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day to the principal in The Goldbergs. Both Tobolowsky and Chen are scheduled to attend.

Alternate: Sunday, 6pm
:: The Look of Silence
Brattle Theatre
Joshua Oppenheimer won this year’s South by Southwest Audience Award with this follow-up to his acclaimed The Act of Killing, about the mad genocidal leaders of 1960s Indonesia (featured at IFFB 2013). If you’re not at the Somerville for The Primary Instinct, here’s an excellent opportunity to see this companion film before its limited theatrical run in July.

:: Monday, April 27, 7pm
:: Lost Colony

Somerville Theatre
Director Christopher Holmes chooses the site of the first attempted New World settlement – the Outer Banks of North Carolina – for this drama about a teenager dealing with his overprotective mother, pregnant-yet-uninterested girlfriend, and other potential disasters.

Posthumous Movie Poster:: Monday, 9:45pm
:: Posthumous
Somerville Theatre
We’ve seen a lot of actress Brit Marling on the festival circuit over the years, and this is usually a good thing. Here, in this drama from director Lulu Wang, she plays a reporter who encounters an artist (Jack Huston) believed to be dead, who keeps up the ruse for the sake of his career.

::Tuesday, April 28, 7pm
:: I’ll See You In My Dreams

Coolidge Corner Theatre
An unlikely mix of young and old mark this comedy-drama about a widowed woman (Blythe Danner) who begins friendships with two very different guys: one is played by Sam Elliott, who’s 70, the other played by Silicon Valley’s Martin Starr, who’s 32. See you millennials, there’s room for all ages at the cinema table.

:: Tuesday, 9:45pm
:: The Wolfpack
Coolidge Corner Theatre
If I had to select one film I’m most anticipating, this would be it. Director Crystal Moselle came across a clan of brothers in the New York City streets and felt compelled to follow them and their story – and she couldn’t imagine what she’d find. Isolated from the world in a Manhattan housing project, six teenage boys have received the bulk of their education and inspiration from – what else – movies. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year.

:: Wednesday, April 29, 7:30pm
:: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Closing Night Feature, Coolidge Corner Theatre
If you’re into indie movie buzz, this is the IFFB entry you’ve been waiting for. Winner of both the Audience and Grand Jury awards at Sundance, this coming-of-age drama from American Horror Story director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon tells of an awkward high school senior who becomes friends with a classmate dying of leukemia, and then teams up with a pal to make one of their crappy, corny DIY movies for her.

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Trackbacks For This Post

  1. […] Schrager talks IFF Boston 2015 and MORPHINE: JOURNEY OF […]

  2. […] Drafthouse Films, who’s distributing The Tribe in the U.S., released a new trailer. Zoom on by the critics’ accolades, and you’ll see some kinetic editing, with footage not already in the earlier trailer I included when previewing the 2015 Independent Film Festival Boston. […]

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