Thursday, May 23, 2024


For the past dozen years the Independent Film Festival Boston has been transforming Davis Square into a mini incarnation of Park City as the number of cineastes surges past the skiers during the Sundance Film Festival. The sense of community and love of film radiates from the massive lines wrapping around the Somerville Theatre as goers chat about all things celluloid (okay, digital) and indie as they wait for often sold-out seats. Here are 15 picks to click (not prescreened) for this year’s IFFB. Word of the wise, buy tickets in advance.

The festival starts today and runs through April 30.

“Fight Church”: Get religion and get your ass whomped. Co-directors Bryan Storkel and Daniel Junge’s gritty doc explores the expanding world of religious institutions that turn to the ring à la “Fight Club” to settle disputes and pastors and parishioners who go toe to toe. More than 700 institutions employ the cage as well as the cloth.

“Overnighters”: A small North Dakota town is booming in oil and laborers are flooding in from all over. Jesse Moss’ tight lens looks at the dynamic between the god-fearing residents and the less morally focused interlopers. Space and culture differences breed contempt.


“Boyhood”: “Slacker” and “Before Sunrise” director Richard Linklater heightens his reputation for time-incubating projects. The “Before” trilogy reunited the characters every nine years, while “Boyhood” was shot over a dozen years and tells the story of a young boy (Ellar Coltrane) as he matures and deals with divorced parents. Linklater staple Ethan Hawke is part of the cast as well as Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei.

“Rubber Soul”: Fictionalized exploration of the life and artistic pursuits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono between the breakup of the Beatles and Lennon’s death.

“Ping Pong Summer”: Michael Tully’s comedy-cum-ode to the ’80s spirals through the adventures of a 13-year-old boy obsessed with two things: ping-pong and hip-hop. Susan Sarandon stars, as does Lea Thompson – which is super apt, as the time is 1985 and in 1985 she was all it in “Back to the Future.”

“Palo Alto”: Gia Coppola, niece of Sofia (”Lost in Translation”) spins a yarn about troubled teens full of ennui and looking for a spark. Based on a series of short stories by James Franco, who also stars with Emma Roberts, the film promises the atmospheric ambiance of auntie’s “Bling Ring.”


“The Case Against 8”: Ben Cotner and Ryan White’s documentary takes a hard 20-20 look at the now notorious approval of Proposition 8 in gay-friendly California.

20,000 Days on Earth”: The music and film works of enigmatic artist Nick Cave get examined in a serendipitous and surreal fashion in this loose documentary by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.

“She’s Beautiful when She’s Angry”: A documentary rewind of the women’s movement back in the ’60s and ’70s before the glass ceiling was shattered. Mary Dore’s film also examines the tension within between lesbian and straights, black and white.

“Dear White People”: This spoof looks at what happens when people of color and city culture go to Ivy League institutions. A probing satire with uncomfortable guffaws on deck.

“Point and Shoot”: A documentary about OCD freak Matthew Vandyke, who embedded as a journalist in Iraq when his girlfriend called him a coward. Vandyke’s odyssey takes him across the Arab world and into some unlikely adventures.

“The Sacrament”: Mumblecore horror hero Ti West (”The Innkeepers” and “V/H/S”) reimagines the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. Fellow mumble-cult member Joe Swanberg is onboard as one of two journalist along for the tragedy.


“Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”: Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel” and “Pacific Rim”) plays an introverted Japanese office worker obsessed with a certain quirky Coen brothers’ movie who heads to the the cold north of America to find fortune and meaning.

“The Double”: Based on Dostoyevsky’s novella and flipped into modern time, the nerdy Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) is paired with a co-worker who looks just like Simon but is everything Simon’s not: successful, outgoing and capable with women.

“Mood Indigo”: Michel Gondry (”Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) tells a tale of love challenged by an early illness. Based on Boris Vian’s 1947 novel “L’Écume des Jours,” you can be sure with Gondry behind the lens it will be anything but conventional. Staring the lovely Audrey Tautou, this is the festival’s closing entry.

Many features play more than once, the complete schedule, tickets and time can be accessed at IFFBoston’s website.