2013 Independent Film Festival Boston: 12 Movies to Watch

By at April 24, 2013 | 12:30 am | Print

IFFB 2013 LogoThe Boston area boasts a hell of a lot of culture. The Institute of Contemporary Art. The American Repertory Theater. The Marshmallow Fluff Festival. But each spring brings my favorite annual arts event, Independent Film Festival Boston, which begins Wednesday night with Sundance favorite The Spectacular Now, starring Oscar nominee Shailene Woodley (The Descendants). Considering the recent events in my fair city, the 11th edition of this sparkling film event couldn’t come a moment sooner.

After combing through the 2013 schedule, watching a bunch of festival movies and talking to folks in the know, I’ve come up with a preview of 12 movies to watch for the 2013 IFFB, organized by day. You pick your day, take our word for it, and enjoy. See how it works?

:: Thursday, April 25

The Way, Way Back
Somerville Theatre, 7:45 pm
Speaking of The Descendants, here’s the directorial debut from screenwriting Oscar winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, a coming-of-age story with a big-name cast and a small-town New England shout-out. A teenager (Liam James) makes friends with his manager (Sam Rockwell) one summer while working at a Cape Cod water park. Co-stars Steve Carell, Amanda Peet, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry and the grossly underrated Toni Collette. And yes, non-New Englanders, we really do have an amusement park named Water Wizz. Sorry.  

Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell in The Way. Way Back

Crystal Fairy
Somerville Theatre, 9:30 pm
As part of their “After Dark” series, the IFFB offers this drug dream comedy from The Maid filmmaker Sebastian Silva. Michael Cera stars as a guy looking for a chill, utopian mescaline experience with his buddies while hanging in Chile (how much higher can this guy’s voice go?) Enter the titular Crystal (all growed up Gaby Hoffman), a hippie who may just be one giant buzz kill. Awww maaaaaan.

:: Friday, April 26

Somerville Theatre, 7 pm
Alex Winter—yes, the guy who played Bill S. Preston, Esquire in the Bill and Ted movies—presses pause on our current digital world to reflect on one of the short-lived powerhouses that got it started: Napster. With intelligent, insightful first-person accounts from founders Shawn Fanning, Sean Parker and their band of merry coders, Winter recalls the incredibly influential company’s abbreviated history and unlikely folklore. Very well told, with a creatively techy soundtrack from DJ Spooky.

Somerville Theatre, 9:30 pm
Sightseers Teaser Movie PosterIf you like your love stories set amid a lush countryside landscape, with the occasional violently crushed skull, Friday night’s “After Hours” feature is highly recommended.

Lead actors Steve Oram and Alice Lowe lend their dry, dark writing talents to the story of Chris and Tina, a nice-enough British couple who take their caravan on a road trip, and take out any poor soul who offends their sensibilities. A little flavor of Eating Raoul, with a touch of horror and suspense throw in to the sexual comedy genre. A good, bloody spit in the face of English niceties. Directed by Ben Wheatley (family crime drama Down Terrace).

:: Saturday, April 27

Persistence of Vision
Somerville Theatre, 12 pm
Kevin Schreck’s film may not be the greatest documentary of the weekend—it’s stylistically uneven and a little long—but it is mandatory viewing for anyone remotely interested in animation or the art of moviemaking. In telling of the brilliant, painfully obsessive animator Richard Williams (a multiple Oscar winner), Schreck shares one of the most complex and intimidating animation sequences ever created, from Williams’ decades-long filmmaking debacle, The Thief and The Cobbler. A victim of Williams’ ego and perfectionism, the feature never wrapped or played in theaters. Well, sort of.

Blood Brother
Somerville Theatre, 3:15 pm
After winning both the Jury and Audience awards for Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, director Steve Hoover’s touching character study premieres in New England. The character in focus is Hoover’s buddy, Rocky, a guy who redefined his life after visiting a hostel for kids with AIDS in India—and deciding he never wanted to leave.

Computer Chess Movie PosterComputer Chess
Brattle Theatre, 6:15 pm
Andrew Bujalski is one of the truly notable indie filmmakers of the last decade (and an IFFB mainstay) with languorous human interest stories like Funny Ha Ha and Beeswax. Now, the guy whose characters seek warmth and connection looks to artificial intelligence as a period concept. Set in 1980, Bujalski’s grand-master technical effort (he shot it on U-Matic videotape) is his oddest feature, where computer-chess programmers meet at a hotel event. Too strangely original to pass by.

Best Kept Secret
Somerville Theatre, 8 pm
The title refers to Newark, New Jersey’s JFK school, an educational home for autistic young people until they reach age 21. But it really describes Ms. Janet Mino, the heroic teacher who tirelessly, passionately fights for her kids’ rights and futures, in ways that few people could either commit to or understand. I don’t have to see every film of the festival to know that Mino is probably the most beautiful woman in any 2013 IFFB movie, and completely unassuming. Entertaining beyond expectations. This screening is the world premiere of Best Kept Secret.

Rewind This!
Brattle Theatre, 9 pm
Rewind This Movie PosterJosh Johnson’s debut feature is one of two recent documentaries about the videotape age (the other is Adjust Your Tracking). It retells the glorious love affair we all once had with VHS tapes—and the adoration that some enthusiasts continue to hold for the video format. Two questions: 1. Wouldn’t this make a great triple feature with Downloaded and Computer Chess? 2. Will this be played back in SP or LP?

:: Sunday, April 28

Lonely Boy
Somerville Theatre, 5:30 pm
It’s unsettling when a movie about schizophrenia chucks subtlety out the window: sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. And that’s part of the excitement and gravity of Dale Fabrigar’s drama about Franky, a tortured guy (Alev Aydin, who wrote the screenplay) battling the demons in his head. Lonely Boy puts it all out there, explaining the origin of the illness and detailing the worst parts of the struggle—yet, the film contains a lack of certainty that’s both sad and spooky. Tough performance by Aydin.

The East
Somerville Theatre, 8 pm
In 2012, actress-writer Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij teamed up for one of the best movies of the year, Sound of My Voice. And you didn’t see it. Now they return with this larger-scale thriller, about a woman (Marling) who infiltrates a group of revolutionaries fixed on screwing with big, criminally negligent corporations. If this pair continues to collaborate on feature films, we should all continue to be pretty satisfied with the results.

Monday, April 29

Willow Creek
Somerville Theatre, 9:30 pm
It’s been 14 years since The Blair Witch Project (and more than 30 since Cannibal Holocaust) and, damn it, we’re done with found-footage thrillers. Unless, of course, Bobcat Goldthwait is writing and directing. In that case, we’re in one more time, for this scary satire set in the late 60s, about a couple on the search for Bigfoot. Not sure they’ve seen him yet(i).

Purchase Independent Film Festival Boston tickets here.

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Trackbacks For This Post

  1. […] out a dozen more recommendations over at Meet Me In The Lobby, including a couple other ones I’m psyched about: “Rewind This!” and “The […]

  2. […] you’ve read my list of the 12 “movies to watch” at this year’s 11th International Film Festival Boston (IFFB), you may have already made your […]

  3. […] little like the complexity of Richard Williams, whose animation we’ve seen in the documentary Persistence of Vision, and reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s approach to A Scanner Darkly. Can’t […]


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