The Independent Film Festival of Boston

Shadow Bag, 2005

Shadow Bag, 2005

Denez McAdoo


I’m going to just come right out and say it: Hollywood sucks.

Now I know, I know, Shrek 2 is a work of unparalleled genius, but it is simply not worth having to put up with the same tired and overblown ideas that are regurgitated over and over again in predictable quarter-year cycles. Hollywood is such a well-established institution in America that, admittedly, it is hard to resist the magnetic pull of your Brad Pitt period pieces, your Renée Zellweger romantic comedies. But that’s exactly how they get you. They know you can’t say no and that you’ll do just about any thing to get you celebrity-driven cinematic fix-you’ll pay $10 to see it, you’ll wait through 15 minutes of trailers just to see it, you’ll ignore the fact that Brad Pitt is wearing a skirt just to see it. Suddenly, you’re hooked on big-budget blockbusters and you didn’t even know it.

But there’s still hope; there are people out there that want to help you. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. But you’ve got to be strong, you’ve got to be determined, and you have to tell those Hollywood rat-bastards, “you can keep your J-Lo and your cheerleader dance-off movies. I don’t need you any more. I’ve got the Third Annual Independent Film Festival of Boston and I don’t have to take it any more!”

There, now don’t you feel like the strong independent film connoisseur that your mom always wanted you to be? And that’s what the Boston Independent Film Festival is really all about: expanding your drab cinematic pallet and showing that unique, fine-quality films that are free of major studio demands can and are made, even if they lack the gargantuan budget of most Hollywood releases. Sure, you probably already knew this, but the inherent problem with independent films is that they don’t receive the same promotion of their playground-bully Hollywood brethren.

That’s were the this third annual festival, which runs from April 21-24, steps in to provide the fine citizens of Boston with a definite outlet for both national and international independent films to get a little of the attention they so badly deserve. The festival will be showing at several theaters in the Boston area that are already well-known as advocates of independent, underground, and lost classics at the proverbial silver screen. No, I’m not talking about Lowes Cineplex, but rather the various local movie hot spots that stand as invaluable Boston institutions in and of themselves; the Somerville Theatre, the Brattle Theatre, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as a handful of other special events that will take place in select locations.

This year’s festival will be featuring a collection of 58 films, selected from amongst thousands of submitted films that are received from all over the globe and include shorts, documentaries, and feature films. Awards will also be given within these three categories, chosen both by a jury panel and by audience vote.

One issue with reviewing the independent film scene, and the festival itself, is that I haven’t seen any of the films yet, which makes giving an accurate preview a bit difficult. Also, since many of these films lack a studio-sized budget, thus an A-list cast that would be facilitated by said studio-sized budget, I’ll try to namedrop the best I can while highlighting a few films that seem especially cool. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’re all cool.

Opening up the festival is the poignant film, Lonesome Jim. Showing that he is far more capable than what his most well-known roles as a charming sleaze-bag would lead you to believe, director Steve Buscemi proves himself to be a true indie darling, having acted and directed in a number of essential films over the past two decades. He’s also a regular face at the Boston festival, having made appearance at every one thus far. Buscemi pulls together a superb case, including Casey Affleck (Ben’s li’l’ bro’) and Liv Tyler (step-daughter of Todd Rundren), to tell the story of a man who must return to his boyhood home to help not only put his family’s, but his own life, back in order. This film screens on Thursday at the Somerville Theatre.

Like many arrogant college-aged know-it-alls, I get all my news from either the Boston Metro or Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. So, when I noticed that Daily Show alumni and Boston native, Rob Corddry, was staring as the title role in the film Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story, which screens Friday and Saturday at the Somerville Theater, I immediately canceled my weekend plane to volunteer at the local old folks’ home. Sorry, but this tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek mock send-up of the documentary style, affectionately know as a mockumentary, was directed by Brant Sersen and also stars many cast members of the hilarious Upright Citizens Brigade. The film details the rise and fall of paint ball superstar Bobby Dukes (Corddry) as he attempts to make his way back to the top of the world of paint ball.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. I couldn’t begin to describe a more complete list of the films that have been generating substantial hype and seem to spark the most pre-show interest, but here’s a few anyways: Same Sex America (doc), Home (feat), Spam-ku: I Won A Haiku Contest About Spam (short), and Popaganda: The Art Crimes of Ron English (doc). One thing you can be bet on is that this year’s festival is sure to be one of those necessary events that should be attended by any respectable Bostonian. Sorry, Marathon Monday, I was busy NOT running around in a gigantic circle. In fact, the only thing that could go wrong during this year’s Independent Film Festival of Boston is if I have to see Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ugly mug. Nothing personal about the guy, I just don’t like pretentious nerds with three names.

For more information about this yea’rs Independent Film Festival of Boston and how to get tickets, venue locations, and a more complete list of film descriptions, go to