It’s film festival time! That means you need to stretch, exercise, and drink plenty of liquids because there’s a lot to see. The month is capped with an amazing line up of 66 features at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. But before that there are some smaller series, festivals, and single opportunities for unique movie experiences. You will definitely need to plan your weekends and days in advance.
By Tim Jackson
Boston Underground Film Festival, through April 1st. The Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA. The thirteenth BUFF describes its fare as “the bizarre, the troubling and the overlooked, the weird and wondrous.” All in all, it will screen 14 of these twisted gems, plus a shorts series and a cartoon collection. Each film screens with an opening short movie. A sample? Friday’s Excision featured Traci Lords and Malcolm McDowell and boasts this storyline: “Pauline isn’t your typical teen. She picks scabs, dissects road kill, and fantasizes about performing surgery on strangers.” It probably sold out. Get there early for tonight’s show.
The International Experimental Cinema Exposition, April 1 @ 4 p.m, The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). If you’ve been curious about what contemporary experimental film looks like, the IECE is here to help. The organization’s curator and founder, Christopher May, will introduce innovative and poetic celluloid-based films made by cutting edge artists from around the world, followed by a discussion with filmmakers Jonathan Schwartz and Saul Levine. The show is put together exclusively for the ICA.
Scenes of a Crime, April 2nd @ 8 p.m, The Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA. ‘The Doc Yard Presents’ is a riveting series of documentary films. The multiple award-winning Scenes of a Crime documents the forced confession of Adrian Thomas, who walked into a Troy, NY police station late one night and, unbeknownst to him, was video-recorded. Through his story the film explores how modern (and legal) interrogation techniques — lies, threats, and psychological coercion — can produce confessions that may not be reliable. A must see!
Ghett’Out Film Festival, April 6 through 8 at the Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA. More a series of screenings than a “festival,” these films will highlight filmmakers working on the fringes of the French production-distribution system whose movies explore political, ethnic, and social issues. It opens Friday with Charles Burnett’s landmark film The Killer of Sheep. The director will be there.
Peter Greenaway Films, Arts Emerson 559 Washington St., Boston, MA. Arts Emerson is showing some interesting films about art this month. See site for details. Two picks from Peter Greenaway: Rembrandt’s J’accuse (April 6 at 8:45 & April 7 at 6:30). As Greenaway fans know, you usually get more than just a film with his visual creations. The latter flick is described by Cineast Magazine as a “documentary, biopic, melodrama, revisionist history lesson, take-off on CSI crime shows, and a personal essay.” The film also mounts an attack on our lack of visual literacy, a skill that is essential for living in a world awash in images. In Nightwatching (April 7, 8:30 & April 8, 2:00), the director claims that Rembrandt’s 1641 masterpiece “The Night Watch” offers clues to solving a real life murder mystery. This movie is the fictional counterpart of Rembrandt’s J’accuse.
Ed Pincus, April 6 through 9, Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA. Boston has had its share of great documentary filmmakers: Ricky Leacock, Robert Gardner, Ross McElwee, Robb Moss, Erroll Morris, Ascher & Jordan, and many others. Add to that Ed Pincus, who for some time has been out of the public eye living in Vermont. He has been a huge influence on the style known as ‘direct cinema.’ The HFA is showing many of his films, including Diaries: 1971-1976, a bold and personal film made with his wife Jane (one of the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves). Pincus will be in attendance all weekend.
Hotel Lux, April 15 @ 11:30 a.m., Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA. This movie is part of the Goethe-Institute German Film Series. Cabaret star Hans Zeisig has made a reputation of making fun of Adolf Hitler, but with the tyrant in power Zeisig’s career appears to be finished. Not so: he ends up in the arms of Joseph Stalin, becoming the dictator’s personal astrologer. This is described as a black screwball comedy reminiscent of Life Is Beautiful.
Boston International Film Festival, April 13 through 22, AMC/Loews Boston Common. Ten days of screenings downtown. The films come from all over the world. The festival aims to be a fancy affair, but with few filmmakers in attendance the affair is mainly to pick to see whatever strikes your fancy. Not to be confused with the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Picks include Bel Borba Aqui, which is about a unique Brazilian street artist by former American Repertory Theater film and projection designer, Burt Sun, and For The Love Of Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival. Both of these films show on April 17.
Independent Film Festival of Boston, April 25 through May 2, Somerville Theater & Brattle Theater. The Boston Phoenix ‘Best Film Festival’ winner is the essential festival for film lovers who want to see the best of what’s on the horizon. Made up of 66 narrative and documentary features as well as 32 short films, the gathering is curated by a small and dedicated team who work in the business and attend key festivals. They know and support filmmakers, so you’ll see a surprising number of directors, actors, and creative local people in attendance. Most films are scheduled at the Somerville Theater or two T stops down at the Brattle, so hopping from one film to the next is easy. Volunteers keep the proceedings in order. Every film is introduced. Passes available.