FilmIFFBoston 2015

The Ten Must-See Films of the 2015 Independent Film Festival of Boston

Wesley Emblidge ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor

It’s that time of year again: The Independent Film Festival of Boston is back for its 13th annual run, starting on April 22nd and going through to the 29th. Nearly 100 films from all over the world will screen at the Somerville Theatre, the Brattle Theatre, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and UMass Boston. Last year, the festival brought of some of 2014’s best films including Boyhood, The Double, Obvious Child, Dear White People, Calvary, Starred Up and many more. What’s in store for this year? We count down the ten most anticipated films of this year’s festival below.

1. The Look of Silence

A shot from The Look of Silence Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
A shot from The Look of Silence. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films

The can’t-miss film of the festival (and honestly, any festival) is Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to his tremendously terrifying 2013 documentary The Act of Killing. Oppenheimer exposed these gangsters in Indonesia who many years earlier were in charge of genocidal death squads, but have never been committed for their crimes. This time around, in a sequel of sorts, Oppenheimer goes with a man as he confronts some of the men who killed his family member during the genocide. Surely just as harrowing and incredible as Oppenheimer’s first film, The Look of Silence has gotten great word out of Venice, Telluride, Toronto and more.

2. The End of the Tour

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, the opening night film. Photo Credit: A24
Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, the opening night film. Photo Credit: A24

A big portion of the festival lineup comes straight from Sundance, and one of that festival’s biggest premieres was James Ponsoldt’s film about David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour. Based on David Lipsky’s memoir, it recounts Lipsky’s travels interviewing Wallace while on a book tour. The author, who committed suicide in 2008, has a very passionate fanbase that hates the idea of Jason Segel playing Wallace, but the film had good word out of Sundance, despite many saying it would be a film Wallace himself would’ve hated. Also in the cast is Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack and Ron Livingston. Here at IFF Boston it’s the opening night film, and Ponsoldt will be in attendance for that screening.

3. The Tribe

Three of the deaf students in The Tribe. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
Three of the deaf students in The Tribe. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films

This Ukrainian drama has gotten a lot of buzz out of Cannes and Toronto for, despite being populated entirely by deaf characters using sign language, not featuring any subtitles. Eric Kohn at Indiewire explains “it’s never particularly difficult to keep up with the movie’s pace, since their actions speak plainly enough — and sometimes add far more expressiveness than any verbal exchanges could provide.”

4. The Keeping Room

Brit Marling
Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, and Brit Marling in The Keeping Room. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films

The cast is a big draw for The Keeping Room – it features Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, and Sam Worthington – but even more exciting is the premise. Marling and Steinfeld play two southern women abandoned at the end of the Civil War and left to defend their home alongside a slave (Muna Otaru). It was a big hit at Toronto, and marks the screenwriting debut of Julia Hart and the second directorial outing from Daniel Barber (who first made the Michael Caine action movie Harry Brown).

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

RJ Cyler and Thomas Mann in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
RJ Cyler and Thomas Mann in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The biggest hit at Sundance, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize,  and understandably so: it may be the most “Sundance” movie ever. An offbeat quirky dramedy about a teenage filmmaker that befriends a girl with cancer? Sounds awful, frankly, but word out of the festival was extremely enthusiastic. David Erlich of Time Out New York says that the “film [embraces] the most tired tropes of stereotypical YA weepies so that it can kiss them goodbye.” Here at the festival it is the closing night film, and author/screenwriter Jesse Andrews will be in attendance.

6. Slow West

Michael Fassbender and Kodi-Smit McFee in Slow West. Photo Credit: A24
Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Slow West. Photo Credit: A24

Michael Fassbender in a western? You shouldn’t need more than that to sell you on Slow West. At Sundance it won the Dramatic World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, and the cast also features Kodi Smit-McPhee as a young boy Fassbender helps to travel the countryside, and Ben Mendelsohn as a bounty hunter tracking them down. 

7. Results

Guy Pearce and Colbie Smulders in Results. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures
Guy Pearce and Colbie Smulders in Results. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess was one of my favorite underrated indie films of 2013, a sort of surrealist mockumentary set in 1980 at a computer chess tournament. That film was pretty bizarre and inaccessible, and it seems like Bujalski may have toned that down for Results. Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders star in this comedy about personal trainers, and although I’m worried about Bujalski losing the sense of humor we saw in Computer Chess for something blander, I have faith that he’ll bring something special. This is also another Sundance film that got some good buzz out of the festival.

8. The Overnight

Taylor Schilling in The Overnight. Photo Credit: The Orchard
Taylor Schilling in The Overnight. Photo Credit: The Orchard

A comedy starring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling is already a solid package, so all the good word about Patrick Brice’s The Overnight just bumps this up higher on this list. The film follows two parents (Scott and Schilling) new to LA who get caught up in a strange family playdate with Kurt (Schwartzman) and his children. 

9. The Wolfpack

A shot from the documentary The Wolfpack. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures
A shot from the documentary The Wolfpack. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

This winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Documentary sounds so fascinating that I don’t think I could explain it any better than this synopsis: “Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch. Nicknamed, ‘The Wolfpack,’ the brothers spend their childhood reenacting their favorite films using elaborate homemade props and costumes. Their world is shaken up when one of the brothers escapes and everything changes.”

10. Eden

Felix De Givry in Eden. Photo Credit: Broad Green Picturese
Felix De Givry in Eden. Photo Credit: Broad Green Picturese

Mia Hansen-Love brought us the great coming of age tale Goodbye First Love in 2012, and now she’s back with her portrait of the electronic music scene of France in the 90’s. It features a massive soundtrack including the likes of Daft Punk, who agreed to license their music to the film for a very minimal fee, as the songs play a key role in establishing the time periods and state of culture in the film.


Others well worth checking out are the documentaries (T)ERROR, Iris, Finders Keepers, Best of Enemies, Cartel Land, The Chinese Mayor, Call Me Lucky, and The Primary Instinct. There’s also Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow, one of the best short films in years and part of the narrative shorts lineup.

Below is the full lineup (features and shorts). The festival runs April 22nd through the 29th, and tickets go on sale for the general public on April 8th. Visit iffboston.com for more information.

NARRATIVE FEATURES

7 CHINESE BROTHERS directed by Bob Byington

BOB AND THE TREES directed by Diego Ongaro

A BRILLIANT YOUNG MIND directed by Ryan Piers Williams

DAY RELEASE directed by Geoffrey Cowper

DEATHGASM directed by Jason Lei Howden

EDEN directed by Mia Hansen-Love

END OF THE TOUR directed by James Ponsoldt

FUNNY BUNNY directed by Alison Bagnall

H. directed by Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS directed by Brett Haley

THE KEEPING ROOM directed by Daniel Barber

LOST COLONY directed by Christopher Holmes

THE OVERNIGHT directed by Patrick Brice

RESULTS directed by Andrew Bujalski

SLOW WEST directed by John Maclean

THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE directed by Perry Blackshear

THE TRIBE directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky

WILDLIKE directed by Frank Hall Green

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

61 BULLETS directed by David Modigliani

ANGKOR’S CHILDREN directed by Lauren Shaw

BARGE directed by Ben Powell

BEING EVEL directed by Daniel Junge

BEST OF ENEMIES directed by Robert Gordon & Morgan Neville

BLACK PANTHERS directed by Stanley Nelson

BOUNCE: HOW THE BALL TAUGHT THE WORLD TO PLAY directed by Jerome Thelia

CALL ME LUCKY directed by Bobcat Goldthwait

CARTEL LAND directed by Matthew Heineman

THE CHINESE MAYOR directed by Hao Zhou

CIRCUS WITHOUT BORDERS directed by Susan Gray

CITY OF GOLD directed by Laura Gabbert

LOST CONQUEST directed by Mike Scholtz

DO I SOUND GAY? directed by David Thorpe

DWARVES KINGDOM directed by Matthew Salton

FINDERS KEEPERS directed by Bryan Carberry & J. Clay Tweel

FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD directed by Paul Goodwin

THE GREAT ALONE directed by Greg Kohs

GTFO directed by Shannon Sun-Higginson

I AM WHAT I PLAY directed by Roger King

IN TRANSIT directed by Albert Maysles, Lynn True, Nelson Walker, Ben Wu & David Usui

IRIS directed by Albert Maysles

KING GEORGES directed by Erika Frankel

LOOK OF SILENCE directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS directed by Laurie Kahn

MADE IN JAPAN directed by Josh Bishop

MORPHINE JOURNEY OF DREAMS directed by Mark Shuman

THE PRIMARY INSTINCT directed by David Chen

STRAY DOG directed by Debra Granik

SUNSHINE SUPERMAN directed by Marah Strauch

(T)ERROR directed by Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe

THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS directed by Don Hardy Jr.

WELCOME TO LEITH directed by Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker

THE WOLFPACK directed by Crystal Moselle

THE YEAR WE THOUGHT ABOUT LOVE directed by Ellen Brodsky

 

NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

ACTOR SEEKS ROLE directed by Michael Tyburski

ANOTHER MOONSCAPE directed by Maxim Hectors

ARTEMIS FALLS directed by Eliza McNitt

BLACKWELL directed by Ed Barnes

BULL directed by Julia Hutchison

CARAVAN directed by Keiran Watson-Bonnice

CENTRAL MARKET directed by Saleh Nass

DESK JOB directed by Jason Eaken

GREENLAND directed by Oren Gerner

HASTA LA VISTA directed by Matt Kazman & Matt Porter

HELP POINT directed by Andrew Margetson

KNIGHTSVILLE directed by Aly Migliori

LA NOCHE BUENA directed by Alex Mallis

PHANERON directed by Jonathan Case

PROM NIGHT directed by Josh Shayne

SAFE directed by Sean Temple

STEALTH directed by Bennett Lasseter

TICKY TACKY directed by Brian Petsos

TOBACCO BURN directed by Justin Liberman

WIRE CUTTERS directed by Jack Anderson

WORLD OF TOMORROW directed by Don Hertzfeldt

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS

THE AMERICAN GURNER directed by Tim Jackson

AMERICAN RENAISSANCE directed by Jarred Alterman

ANALOGUE PEOPLE IN A DIGITAL WORLD directed by Keith Walsh

AND COUNTING directed by Michelle Wood

THE BAD BOY OF BOWLING directed by Bryan Storkel

CROOKED CANDY directed by Andrew Rodgers

DUNK TANK CLOWNS directed by Daniel McGuire

ELGIN PARK directed by Danny Yourd

THE GNOMIST directed by Sharon Liese

GROWING LOCAL directed by Bridget Besaw

THE HERMIT directed by Lena Friedrich

IN-WAITING directed by Atsuko Okatsuka

LAST PYRAMID directed by Dave Schachter

THE MANY SAD FATES OF MR. TOLEDANO directed by Josh Seftel

SEVEN WAYS FROM SUNDAY directed by Robert Sickels

SILENCED IN SOUTHIE directed by Evan Dolan

SPEARHUNTER directed by Adam Roffman & Luke Poling

THE SURRENDER directed by Steve Maing

TAPPING IN directed by Steven Hathaway

TASHI AND THE MONK directed by Johnny Burke & Andrew Hinton

TINY OUT LOUD directed by Andrew Ina

UNMAPPABLE directed by Diane Hodson & Jasmine Luoma

THE WATERSHED directed by Elise Hugu & Daniel Cojanu

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