My Weekend at the IFFB

Michael Hogan

As the weather is heating up, the signs of spring are sprouting all around us. The trees are budding, the jackets are finding room in the backs of closets, the swan boats are floating on the lagoon in the Public Garden, and the Independent Film Festival of Boston is back. It is spring again.

While some people celebrate spring listening to the melodies of the birds in the trees, I celebrate it with an entire weekend of independent cinema.

This year, from April 23-29, the Independent Film Festival of Boston featured screenings of 96 different films. I was fortunate enough to view 11of those films.

This is how my weekend went:

Thursday: 10:15PM – Somervile Theater

“Natural Causes”

Director: Alex Cannon, Paul Cannon, and Michael Lerman

This humorous, yet surprisingly real, narrative pulls the viewer through the course of one young couple’s relationship, from beginning to end. Real life couple Jerzi Gwiazdowski and Leah Goldstein play David and Cara, two Brooklyn twenty-something’s who meet and embark on a two year romance. The nuisances of a new relationship, innocent playfulness and constant affection, give way to the silent faults of the complicated web that is human interaction. Whether it is the unspoken words, the burning glares, or the momentary disrespect, the viewer is taken along for the ride as the outer mask of a relationship is removed.

Saturday: 2:15PM – Brattle Theater


Director: Rob Moss and Peter Galison

This documentary attempts to delve into the complex world of government secrets. From a bomber plane crash over Georgia fifty plus years ago to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, a teetering history of deception is revealed, a complex network of lies in the name of national security.

Saturday: 4:45PM – Somerville Theater


Director: Lance Hammer

An homage to the bleak, gray conditions of the lonely Mississippi Delta winter, “Ballast” explores some of the most heavy subject matter life can throw at us. James is a 12 year old mixed up in a world of drugs and guns. Marlee is his single mother struggling to make ends meet. Lawrence is attempting to deal with the suicide of his twin brother. As James and Marlee flee from the violence of Jame’s mistakes they come face to face with Lawrence, together the three of them must confront and overcome the deeply interwoven histories between them.

Saturday: 10:15PM – Somerville Theater


Director: Stuart Gordon

Director Stuart Gordon, the goremaster behind the 80’s cult classic “The Re-Animator” expertly examines the innate desire for praise and the lengths to which we would go to get it. Based on a true story, “Stuck” follows Brandi, a promising nursing assistant at an assisted living facility, as she collides, literally, with Tom, an unfortunate guy who suddenly finds himself on the streets. Brandi hits Tom with her car and then drives home with the injured man still embedded in her windshield. She must make the decision to help the near fatally wounded man and risk her impending promotion or leave him there to die. “Stuck” reveals the dark depths to which someone will travel for acceptance. Not to mention the over the top gore that Gordon is known for, pens in the eye, windshield wipers in the gut, lots of horrifically hideous stuff.

Sunday: 7:00PM – Somerville Theater


Director: Scott Masterson, Seanbaker Carter, Andy McCarthy, Garth Donovan, Luke Poling, Noah Lydiard, Megan Summers, Brynmore Williams, Joan Meister, Marc Colucci, Jared Goodman, and Vladmir Minuty.

Twelve different Boston directors were each given one month of the year and asked to make a short film that took place in that month. The result is two hours of drama, hilarity, and entertainment that takes the viewer from Salem to Upham’s Corner to Downtown Crossing and back again. Perhaps you might get sick of seeing that same damn tree in the Fens over and over again, but you will not get sick of this movie. A visual love letter to the city we all adore, “Twelve” is a musically dramatic mockumentary ghost story about bees, robots, strippers, and the Devil. “Twelve” is the most quintessential Boston movie in decades.

Sunday: 10:00PM – Somerville Theater

“The Tracey Fragments”

Director: Bruce McDonald

Ellen Page, of “Juno” fame takes on a vastly different role as Tracey Berkowitz, an outcast teenager from a highly dysfunctional family. Tracey’s barking brother, Sonny (whom she has “hypnotized” to think he is a dog) goes missing and Tracey is determined to find him. Director Bruce McDonald uses a constantly changing mosaic of scenes and images to illustrate Tracey’s fractured and fragmented existence. A mysterious new boy at school named Billy Zero, a shady guy from Toronto named Lance, and an odd laughing man on a bus all come into Juno’s already twisted life, leaving her broken and riding a city bus in the middle of the night half naked and wrapped in a shower curtain.

Monday: 5:15PM – Somerville Theater

“The Linguists”

Director: Daniel Miller, Seth Kramer, Jeremy Newberger

Of the 7,000 different languages in the world today one dies off every two weeks. Large portions of our human culture are fading away as generations get older and the world becomes more gentrified. “The Linguists” follows two men who have made it their mission to seek out these languages that are on the brink of disappearance and document them for prosperity. From the Siberian tundra to the jungles of Bolivia, from the reservations of Arizona to the rural villages of India each individual culture cultivates its own distinct view of the world around it. With languages dying off at such an alarming rate these cultures are disappearing as well. Bits and pieces of human history are being lost to the fog of the past, these two men are determined to stop that from happening again.

Monday: 10:15PM – Somerville Theater

“Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie”

Director: Jay Delaney

Dallas Gilbert and Wayne Burton live in Portsmouth, Ohio. Together they have amassed more than 150 photographs that they say contain evidence of the legendary Bigfoot. These two often times eccentric friends have made it their life’s calling to find the elusive creature and reveal its presence to skeptics the world over. Less about the cutthroat world of Bigfoot research and more about the desperate lives and circumstances of these two men, “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie” is a tale of friendship and deception, of determination and weirdness.

As with all film festivals there were some hits and there were some misses, but overall I had myself a great time at this year’s Independent Film Festival of Boston. Now I will just sit back and wait for spring to roll around again.