PopMatters took a seat in dark spaces to explore the shadowy places of the human mind, as brought to light via the filmmakers at the Independent Film Festival of Boston.
The 5th Annual Independent Film Festival of Boston, showcasing “the best independent films from around the world”, ran 25-30 April 2007.
In five years, the Independent Film Festival of Boston (or, as I like to affectionately call it, Biff) has transformed itself from a fledgling upstart into the premier New England festival event. Compared to the increasingly moribund Boston Film Festival held in the fall, the IFF is vibrant and eclectic, young and vital, pulling from all corners of the cinematic map.
If its willingness to take risks yields the occasional lapse in consistency, well, that’s the price of growing into a bigger skin. Building on past successes and ever increasing prestige, 2007’s Fest yielded another bumper crop of excellent films from the margins.
As I’ve found from years past, the strength of the festival tends to lean more towards documentary features that narrative films, but that’s not to say the latter weren’t up to snuff. Both Hal Hartley’s Fay Grim and the Julia Loktev’s Day Night Day Night stood out as the two most likely to find wider critical success beyond the festival circuit, though I can see Sarah Polley’s Away from Her being the one that would find a large mainstream audience.
Documentaries, as usual, were all over the map in terms of both style and content. Crowd pleasing features about mostly harmless eccentrics went head-to-head against darker, more difficult fare about abortion, school shootings and… um… horses. I wish I could forget some of these latter films, but they left the most indelible impressions.
So, seven days; 14 films; 25 pots of coffee; and one exhausted, overcaffeinated, highly strung by satisfied film fanatic. And so I present to you my impressions of the films I saw at the 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston…
Movies Reviewed in this PopMatters’ Special Section
Fay Grim (Hal Hartley)
On Broadway (Dave McLaughlin)
Audience of One (Mike Jacobs)
Monster Camp (Cullen Hoback)
Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev)
The Killer Within (Macky Alston)
Away From Her (Sarah Polley)
The Paper (Aaron Matthews)
Lake of Fire (Tony Kaye)
Zoo (Robinson Dover)
TheGoodTimesKid (Azazel Jacobs)
Hannah Takes the Stairs (Joe Swanberg)
Rumbo a las Grande Ligas (Jared Goodman)
Brooklyn Rules (Michael Corrente)
Writer Bio: A locally renowned freelance film enthusiast and professional contrarian based out of Somerville, Massachusetts, Jake Meaney is most noted as a hopelessly amateur dilettante whose unapologetically omnivorous taste in films of questionable caliber has finally cancelled out whatever critical acumen he may have once possessed. We’re not saying you shouldn’t read him, but do so at your own risk.
Thursday, May 31 2007
These films share connecting tendrils of a strident defiance of convention, of this total faith in the surface non-sequitur; a seeming senselessness that really only masks the deeper connections and traditions flowing beneath their surfaces.
An audience decked out in full Boston Red Sox gear waits, in vain, for the appearance of star slugger, David Ortiz -- the film, it seems, was incidental. Meanwhile, Scott Caan, son of the enigmatic James Caan, gives a possible starmaking performance as a wiseguy wannabe.
Wednesday, May 30 2007
Away from Her grasps at that which can't be held and kept: the white of snow, the white of the winter sky, the white of the lacunae of memory. The Paper tires desperately to hold on to the Romantic ideals of journalism at its best, while watching it fade into obsolescence.
Wild-eyed zealotry and borderline sociopathic behavior make for good cinema. Less spectactularly but no less effective, though, is forcing viewers to take a good, hard look at their own moral make-up, and leaving them contemplating explicitly just where and why boundaries must be drawn.
Thursday, May 24 2007
A grandiose, delusional pastor turned filmmaker thinks he may have Mel Gibson beat. Elsewhere, a theatre full of delighted LARPers testify to the power of imagination and play.
These two films reflect our fears of terror and violence through a glass darkly What looks back at us in Day Night Day Night is teetering on the verge of a dark, dark void, and in The Killer Within is but cravenly hiding itself behind its impartial, reflected veneer.
Thursday, May 17 2007
Fay Grim gives newcomers a lesson in Hal Hartleyisms: repetitious totemic dialogue, revolving jokes that cycle through characters, and his wry, winking treatment of genre. Whereas On Broadway, a middling film about an amateur play, is only hopelessly or maybe semi-cleverly "amateurish".