What to Watch at Boston’s International and Independent Film Festivals

This month, two Boston film festivals will take over local theaters. With hundreds of movies to choose from, here are a few that we’re looking forward to.

April in Boston isn’t just about baseball, though the crowds clad in red at Kenmore station would likely tell you otherwise. Along with warmer weather, kayaks on the Charles, and the return of outdoor markets, April is also notably the season of Boston film festivals. Starting Friday, the Boston International Film Festival kicks off the festivities, and on April 24, the Boston Independent Film Festival begins.

While film gatherings in Boston may be smaller in scale compared to those in cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, they have no problem packing just as much punch. The 11th annual Boston International Film Festival is one of Boston’s most noted celebrations of diversity as it aims to promote and honor the artistic, social, and cultural efforts of international independent filmmakers, from Afghanistan to the U.K. and all the places in between. This year, the 10-day festival highlights more than 100 films from 33 different countries.

With so many options, what should you see? Allow us to put the following projects on your radar.

Nicoleta | Trailer via Sonia Liza Kenterman/Vimeo

Nicoleta, written and directed by promising Greek filmmaker Sonia Liza Kenterman, is a poignant short film set during a period of great turmoil in 1950s Greece. As the only male in his family, a young boy treks across an inhospitable mountain terrain with his baby sister on his back, hoping to bring her away from poverty and toward safety in a town across the way.

$12, Saturday, April 13, 1:30 p.m., Session 3 at AMC Loews Boston Common

The Girl and Death | Trailer via YouTube

The Girl and Death, written and directed by Dutch filmmaker Jos Stelling, tells the story of a tumultuous love affair that takes place in 19th-century Russia. When Nikolai, an elderly physician, pays a visit to the place where he’d once found the love of his life, we are thrown into a darkened upheaval of memories about the beautiful courtesan Elise and their romantic tragedy that unfolded years ago.

$12, Saturday, April 13, 11 a.m., Session 2 at AMC Loews Boston Common

Street Music 30s | Promo via Peter Santana/Vimeo

More likely than not, you’ve been mesmerized by the unexpected talents of street musicians across Boston, whether it’s a Zeppelin melody fluttering from the bridge at the Public Garden, smooth vocals echoing across the station at Park Street, or two violinists playing Taylor Swift on the T. Peter Santana’s documentary follows the life, work, and passions of three buskers actively playing in Boston.

$12, Monday, April 15, 11 a.m., Session 14 at AMC Loews Boston Common


Right on the heels of the International Festival will be the Boston Independent Film Festival, which will run April 24-30 at the Somerville and Coolidge Corner Theatres. One of the main intents of the festival, now in its 12th year, is to showcase films that a viewer wouldn’t normally find playing in nearby theaters, ones that are conceptualized and brought to life by passionate independent filmmakers outside of the glass doors of Hollywood. Even so, you may spot some indie favorites and familiar faces on screen like Paul Rudd, Shailene Woodley, Ellen Page, Steve Carrell, and Adam Brody.

Various parties throughout the week (including an awards party in the Revere Hotel’s Emerald Lounge) and panels will all be part of the festival. Be sure to check out the forum “The Art & Politics of End Credits,” moderated by UMass Boston Film Series curator Chico Colvard. Like the international festival, the Boston Independent Film Festival will feature projects across a wide scope of genres, from narrative features to documentaries to experimental shorts. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come:

Touchy Feeling | Lynn Shelton video via Sundance Film Festival/YouTube

Touchy Feely, Lynn Shelton’s latest endeavor after Your Sister’s Sister, is a story about a free-spirited massage therapist (Rosemarie DeWitt) who suddenly develops an aversion to touch, while her brother (Josh Pais) discovers that his dental clients seek out his healing touch to aid them with chronic jaw pain.

$11, Monday, April 29, 7:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre

Laurence Anyways | Trailer via YouTube

Laurence Anyways, a gripping Canadian film by director Xavier Dolan, tells the story of a heterosexual couple who have been in a relationship for 10 years when Laurence reveals what’s been inside him all along: his desire to live as a woman.

$11, Sunday, April 28, 2 p.m., Somerville Theatre

Twenty Feet from Stardom | Video via Sundance Channel Asia/YouTube

Twenty Feet from Stardom is an inspirational documentary feature directed by Morgan Melville that tells the story of some of the greatest singers in history whom you’ve heard, but you just don’t know you’ve heard them: back-up singers.

$11, Sunday, April 28, 3:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre


For more information on the Boston International Film Festival, April 12-24, visit bifilmfestival.com.
For more information on the Boston Independent Film Festival, April 24-30, check out iffboston.org.

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