Bradley's Almanac

It’s Here: The 2010 Independent Film Fest of Boston starts tonight!

Posted on April 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm | No Comments

In just a number of hours, the 8th annual Independent Film Festival of Boston kicks off with an opening night at the Somerville Theatre, then spreads to a few other area cinemas for a week-long celebration of all that is good about goin’ to the movies. Lovingly (and tirelessly) curated by an all-volunteer staff, it ranks very high among the reasons I love this town, and I haven’t missed a single IFFB yet.

In years past, I’ve done run-downs spotlighting a film or two that I’m looking forward to during each day of the fest, but this year I’m going to switch that up a little bit. The reason? Well, the music. There’s lots of strong music-related content this year, so I’m going to hit that list and close out with a few other films I’m looking forward to…

Since their second edition in 2004, the IFFB has always made sure that music documentaries are a component of the fest, and each year usually brings at least one that’s directly up my alley – In 2004 we had “Dig!”, 2005 brought “Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley”, 2006 gave us the one two locally-flavored punch of Pixies doc “loudQUIETloud” and Mission of Burma’s “Not A Photograph”, 2007 delivered “Silver Jew”, then “Joy Division” in 2008, and most recently, “I Need That Record!” and the locally-made “Speaking In Code” last year. That’s not even a complete list of all the music-related films they’ve shown (and that I’ve been compelled to see).

Well, this year up’s the ante: A documentary focusing on my favorite songwriter of all time? Oh yes. How about a film centered on a Boston-connected curmudgeon (and his band), hailed as one of the best contemporary songsmiths working? Roger that. Want to learn more about the only British rock-band-frontman with a style of facial hair named after him? Yeah, they’ve got that. The struggle of a Boston-based writer during his attempt to reunite a seminal UK band, with the input of a half-dozen other famous fans? Uh-huh. Throw in a look inside the origins of the Muslim punk scene, and you’ve got yourself one seriously varied music-doc itinerary. Hell, this list could comprise a mini-fest on its own…

  • Searching For Elliott Smith
    (Official Site / IMDB)

    Screening on Monday, April 26th at 7pm at the Somerville Theatre
    Director Gil Reyes in attendance

    If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I’m terribly non-committal (i.e. wishy washy) when it comes to picking favorites. But my favorite songwriter? Yeah, it’s Elliott. His death hit me like no other, had a far greater effect on me than the loss of any other cultural figure. He’s probably had the most direct impact on my life than any other person I’ve never met. So to say that I’m looking forward to this particular film is a bit of an understatement.

  • Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields
    (Official Site / IMDB)

    Screening on Sunday, April 25th at 7:30pm at the Brattle Theatre
    Magnetic Fields member/manager Claudia Gonson in attendance (I think)
    (and if I had to wager, other MF’ers will be there, too)

    By all accounts (and recorded evidence), Stephen Merritt is a prickly fellow. Cantankerous, droll, crabby – consult your thesaurus, and yeah, he’s probably been called that. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s earned that right, what with all the irresistibly catchy tunes he’s crafted with his various projects – The Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes, alongside Lemony Snicket – but most prominently with his mates in The Magnetic Fields. Able to dip his toe in whatever style he damn well pleases, he’s a modern master, and in concert his generally dour manner comes across as divine comedy when combined with his longstanding foil, singer/keyboard player Claudia Gonson. I think she’ll be at this screening for a Q&A or intro or something (songs, maybe? we can hope.), and given the band’s strong Boston ties, I picture a crowd filled with friends and bandmates (both former and current).

  • Lemmy
    (Official Site / IMDB)

    Screening on Friday, April 23rd at 10pm the Somerville Theatre
    Director Wes Orshosk in attendance

    Ian Fraser Kilmister. His facial hair is as legendary as his playing in Motorhead. I mean, do any other festival-related celebs rate their own action figure? I think not. (oh, if only they’d made Deadwood figs). The biggest surprise about this documentary is that one didn’t already exist. If you love Lemmy, if you’ve ever rocked out to “Ace Of Spades“, how can you miss this?

    (That said… I’ll be missing it, but only because it’s up against the Bill Hicks documentary. Tough one, that.)

  • Do It Again
    (Official Site / IMDB)

    Screening on Saturday, April 24th at 8pm at the Somerville Theatre
    Director Robert Patton Spruill, subject/producer Geoff Edgers, and former
    Del Fuegos member Warren Zanes (who is featured in the film) in attendance

    (I wrote the synopsis for this one in the IFFB’s program guide, so I’ll paste some of that here)

    Every real music fan has a favorite band – but it’s a very rare fan who single-handedly attempts to reunite them years after they’ve packed it in. In director Robert Patton Spruill’s documentary, that rare fan is Geoff Edgers, a Boston Globe staff writer and dedicated follower of the Kinks. Edgers was driven to embark on a risky and time-consuming quest to get the Davies brothers and their old bandmates back in the same room to play some songs. He enlists some pretty impressive Kinks fans for moral (and musical) support, including Robyn Hitchcock, Sting, Paul Weller, Peter Buck, and Zooey Deschannel (and if you think it was impossible for Zooey to appear even more endearing than she already seems to be, well, think again).

  • Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam
    (Official Site / IMDB)

    Screening on Thursday, April 22nd at 7:15 at the Somerville Theatre
    Director Omar Majeed in attendance

    Chronicles the highly unusual, and relatively recent, genesis of the Muslim American punk scene. Most musical movements eventually get documented in various books, but this one flips that convention on its head – Michael Mohammed Knight’s 2003 novel, “The Taqwacores” came first, and the scene soon followed.

  • And another film that, while not a documentary, deserves a mention in an IFFB 2010 music post…

  • Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee
    (Trailer / IMDB)

    Screening on Thursday, April 22nd at 10pm at the Somerville Theatre

    A mockumentary chronicling the rise of an obscure UK rapper and his manager who enlist the help of, believe it or not, the Arctic Monkeys.

  • And, lastly, I’ll bullet-point a few non-musical highlights of my personal festival schedule…

  • The opening night film, which starts in just a couple hours, is Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini’s “The Extra Man”, starring Kevin Kline and Paul Dano (from “Little Miss Sunshine” and “There Will Be Blood”). Kline will be there in person, and is being honored with the IFFBoston 2010 Career Achievement Award. And don’t ask him to do Otto from A Fish Called Wanda… he’s gotta be sick of that by now.
  • The one and only John Hawkes, an actor I’ve loved even before he embodied the wonderful Sol Star in Deadwood, is coming to town to attend the Friday night screening of Winter’s Bone. You might also know him from former IFFB selection “Me and You and Everyone We Know”, or even from the current season of “Lost”. Can’t wait to see him in person, and I’ll be wearing my “Star & Bullock Hardware” t-shirt with pride.
  • Even though she was just here a couple weeks ago to attend the Boston Comic-Con, actor/director Amber Benson (aka Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is returning to attend the screening of her new film “Drones” (which was co-directed by Adam Busch, aka Warren, aka the guy who killed Tara). The film stars another familiar Buffyverse face, Jonathan M. Woodward (who has appeared in no less than three Whedon shows), as well as Mr. James Urbaniak, who himself attended the IFFB a few years back.
  • Director Todd Solondz is coming to show his latest work, “Life During Wartime”. The film has a conceit that sounds very Solondz-ish: He brings back characters from his previous films and casts them with different actors. Should be interesting, at the very least.
  • I mentioned above that I’m skipping “Lemmy” to catch “American: The Bill Hicks Story”. Fellow fans of Hicks’ comedy, which was more biting social commentary than funny ha-ha, know why I had to make this choice.
  • Going to try and catch one or two of the Short Film packages this year, but the one I’m most looking forward to is the animation block. Check that out.
  • Another short film that intrigues me? “Athena”. Why? Well, Harry Dean Stanton and David Thewlis, that’s why.
  • Last I heard, there’s a slim chance that James Franco will show up for the closing night film, a screening of his behind-the-scenes SNL documentary, “Saturday Night”. Even if he’s not there, that’s pretty much a can’t miss flick for me.
  • Keep up with the IFFB this week on both Twitter and Facebook. I would recommend that you buy a full festival pass, but they’re already sold out, so make sure you buy your individual tickets in advance, so you don’t get shut out.

    Alright, time to head over to the Davis Square and pick up my pass. I’ll update some hyperlinks as soon as I get a chance. See ya at the Somerville…

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  • About the ‘Nac

    This is Bradley's Almanac. I'm your host, Brad. Barely holding it together since February 2000.

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