The Ten Must-See Films of the 2015 Independent Film Festival of Boston

Wesley Emblidge ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor
It’s that time of year again: The Independent Film Festival of Boston is back for its 13th annual run, starting on April 22nd and going through to the 29th. Nearly 100 films from all over the world will screen at the Somerville Theatre, the Brattle Theatre, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and UMass Boston. Last year, the festival brought of some of 2014’s best films including Boyhood, The Double, Obvious Child, Dear White People, Calvary, Starred Up and many more. What’s in store for this year? We count down the ten most anticipated films of this year’s festival below.

1. The Look of Silence

A shot from The Look of Silence Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
A shot from The Look of Silence. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
The can’t-miss film of the festival (and honestly, any festival) is Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to his tremendously terrifying 2013 documentary The Act of Killing. Oppenheimer exposed these gangsters in Indonesia who many years earlier were in charge of genocidal death squads, but have never been committed for their crimes. This time around, in a sequel of sorts, Oppenheimer goes with a man as he confronts some of the men who killed his family member during the genocide. Surely just as harrowing and incredible as Oppenheimer’s first film, The Look of Silence has gotten great word out of Venice, Telluride, Toronto and more.

2. The End of the Tour

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, the opening night film. Photo Credit: A24
Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, the opening night film. Photo Credit: A24
A big portion of the festival lineup comes straight from Sundance, and one of that festival’s biggest premieres was James Ponsoldt’s film about David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour. Based on David Lipsky’s memoir, it recounts Lipsky’s travels interviewing Wallace while on a book tour. The author, who committed suicide in 2008, has a very passionate fanbase that hates the idea of Jason Segel playing Wallace, but the film had good word out of Sundance, despite many saying it would be a film Wallace himself would’ve hated. Also in the cast is Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack and Ron Livingston. Here at IFF Boston it’s the opening night film, and Ponsoldt will be in attendance for that screening.

3. The Tribe

Three of the deaf students in The Tribe. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
Three of the deaf students in The Tribe. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
This Ukrainian drama has gotten a lot of buzz out of Cannes and Toronto for, despite being populated entirely by deaf characters using sign language, not featuring any subtitles. Eric Kohn at Indiewire explains “it’s never particularly difficult to keep up with the movie’s pace, since their actions speak plainly enough — and sometimes add far more expressiveness than any verbal exchanges could provide.”

4. The Keeping Room

Brit Marling
Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, and Brit Marling in The Keeping Room. Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films
The cast is a big draw for The Keeping Room – it features Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, and Sam Worthington – but even more exciting is the premise. Marling and Steinfeld play two southern women abandoned at the end of the Civil War and left to defend their home alongside a slave (Muna Otaru). It was a big hit at Toronto, and marks the screenwriting debut of Julia Hart and the second directorial outing from Daniel Barber (who first made the Michael Caine action movie Harry Brown).

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

RJ Cyler and Thomas Mann in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
RJ Cyler and Thomas Mann in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
The biggest hit at Sundance, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize,  and understandably so: it may be the most “Sundance” movie ever. An offbeat quirky dramedy about a teenage filmmaker that befriends a girl with cancer? Sounds awful, frankly, but word out of the festival was extremely enthusiastic. David Erlich of Time Out New York says that the “film [embraces] the most tired tropes of stereotypical YA weepies so that it can kiss them goodbye.” Here at the festival it is the closing night film, and author/screenwriter Jesse Andrews will be in attendance.

6. Slow West

Michael Fassbender and Kodi-Smit McFee in Slow West. Photo Credit: A24
Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee in Slow West. Photo Credit: A24
Michael Fassbender in a western? You shouldn’t need more than that to sell you on Slow West. At Sundance it won the Dramatic World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, and the cast also features Kodi Smit-McPhee as a young boy Fassbender helps to travel the countryside, and Ben Mendelsohn as a bounty hunter tracking them down. 

7. Results

Guy Pearce and Colbie Smulders in Results. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures
Guy Pearce and Colbie Smulders in Results. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures
Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess was one of my favorite underrated indie films of 2013, a sort of surrealist mockumentary set in 1980 at a computer chess tournament. That film was pretty bizarre and inaccessible, and it seems like Bujalski may have toned that down for Results. Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders star in this comedy about personal trainers, and although I’m worried about Bujalski losing the sense of humor we saw in Computer Chess for something blander, I have faith that he’ll bring something special. This is also another Sundance film that got some good buzz out of the festival.

8. The Overnight

Taylor Schilling in The Overnight. Photo Credit: The Orchard
Taylor Schilling in The Overnight. Photo Credit: The Orchard
A comedy starring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling is already a solid package, so all the good word about Patrick Brice’s The Overnight just bumps this up higher on this list. The film follows two parents (Scott and Schilling) new to LA who get caught up in a strange family playdate with Kurt (Schwartzman) and his children. 

9. The Wolfpack

A shot from the documentary The Wolfpack. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures
A shot from the documentary The Wolfpack. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures
This winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Documentary sounds so fascinating that I don’t think I could explain it any better than this synopsis: “Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch. Nicknamed, ‘The Wolfpack,’ the brothers spend their childhood reenacting their favorite films using elaborate homemade props and costumes. Their world is shaken up when one of the brothers escapes and everything changes.”

10. Eden

Felix De Givry in Eden. Photo Credit: Broad Green Picturese
Felix De Givry in Eden. Photo Credit: Broad Green Picturese
Mia Hansen-Love brought us the great coming of age tale Goodbye First Love in 2012, and now she’s back with her portrait of the electronic music scene of France in the 90’s. It features a massive soundtrack including the likes of Daft Punk, who agreed to license their music to the film for a very minimal fee, as the songs play a key role in establishing the time periods and state of culture in the film.

Others well worth checking out are the documentaries (T)ERROR, Iris, Finders Keepers, Best of Enemies, Cartel Land, The Chinese Mayor, Call Me Lucky, and The Primary Instinct. There’s also Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow, one of the best short films in years and part of the narrative shorts lineup.
Below is the full lineup (features and shorts). The festival runs April 22nd through the 29th, and tickets go on sale for the general public on April 8th. Visit for more information.
7 CHINESE BROTHERS directed by Bob Byington
BOB AND THE TREES directed by Diego Ongaro
A BRILLIANT YOUNG MIND directed by Ryan Piers Williams
DAY RELEASE directed by Geoffrey Cowper
DEATHGASM directed by Jason Lei Howden
EDEN directed by Mia Hansen-Love
END OF THE TOUR directed by James Ponsoldt
FUNNY BUNNY directed by Alison Bagnall
H. directed by Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia
I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS directed by Brett Haley
THE KEEPING ROOM directed by Daniel Barber
LOST COLONY directed by Christopher Holmes
THE OVERNIGHT directed by Patrick Brice
RESULTS directed by Andrew Bujalski
SLOW WEST directed by John Maclean
THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE directed by Perry Blackshear
THE TRIBE directed by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
WILDLIKE directed by Frank Hall Green
61 BULLETS directed by David Modigliani
ANGKOR’S CHILDREN directed by Lauren Shaw
BARGE directed by Ben Powell
BEING EVEL directed by Daniel Junge
BEST OF ENEMIES directed by Robert Gordon & Morgan Neville
BLACK PANTHERS directed by Stanley Nelson
CALL ME LUCKY directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
CARTEL LAND directed by Matthew Heineman
THE CHINESE MAYOR directed by Hao Zhou
CIRCUS WITHOUT BORDERS directed by Susan Gray
CITY OF GOLD directed by Laura Gabbert
LOST CONQUEST directed by Mike Scholtz
DO I SOUND GAY? directed by David Thorpe
DWARVES KINGDOM directed by Matthew Salton
FINDERS KEEPERS directed by Bryan Carberry & J. Clay Tweel
FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD directed by Paul Goodwin
THE GREAT ALONE directed by Greg Kohs
GTFO directed by Shannon Sun-Higginson
I AM WHAT I PLAY directed by Roger King
IN TRANSIT directed by Albert Maysles, Lynn True, Nelson Walker, Ben Wu & David Usui
IRIS directed by Albert Maysles
KING GEORGES directed by Erika Frankel
LOOK OF SILENCE directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS directed by Laurie Kahn
MADE IN JAPAN directed by Josh Bishop
MORPHINE JOURNEY OF DREAMS directed by Mark Shuman
THE PRIMARY INSTINCT directed by David Chen
STRAY DOG directed by Debra Granik
SUNSHINE SUPERMAN directed by Marah Strauch
(T)ERROR directed by Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe
WELCOME TO LEITH directed by Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker
THE WOLFPACK directed by Crystal Moselle
THE YEAR WE THOUGHT ABOUT LOVE directed by Ellen Brodsky
ACTOR SEEKS ROLE directed by Michael Tyburski
ANOTHER MOONSCAPE directed by Maxim Hectors
ARTEMIS FALLS directed by Eliza McNitt
BLACKWELL directed by Ed Barnes
BULL directed by Julia Hutchison
CARAVAN directed by Keiran Watson-Bonnice
CENTRAL MARKET directed by Saleh Nass
DESK JOB directed by Jason Eaken
GREENLAND directed by Oren Gerner
HASTA LA VISTA directed by Matt Kazman & Matt Porter
HELP POINT directed by Andrew Margetson
KNIGHTSVILLE directed by Aly Migliori
LA NOCHE BUENA directed by Alex Mallis
PHANERON directed by Jonathan Case
PROM NIGHT directed by Josh Shayne
SAFE directed by Sean Temple
STEALTH directed by Bennett Lasseter
TICKY TACKY directed by Brian Petsos
TOBACCO BURN directed by Justin Liberman
WIRE CUTTERS directed by Jack Anderson
WORLD OF TOMORROW directed by Don Hertzfeldt
THE AMERICAN GURNER directed by Tim Jackson
AMERICAN RENAISSANCE directed by Jarred Alterman
AND COUNTING directed by Michelle Wood
THE BAD BOY OF BOWLING directed by Bryan Storkel
CROOKED CANDY directed by Andrew Rodgers
DUNK TANK CLOWNS directed by Daniel McGuire
ELGIN PARK directed by Danny Yourd
THE GNOMIST directed by Sharon Liese
GROWING LOCAL directed by Bridget Besaw
THE HERMIT directed by Lena Friedrich
IN-WAITING directed by Atsuko Okatsuka
LAST PYRAMID directed by Dave Schachter
THE MANY SAD FATES OF MR. TOLEDANO directed by Josh Seftel
SEVEN WAYS FROM SUNDAY directed by Robert Sickels
SILENCED IN SOUTHIE directed by Evan Dolan
SPEARHUNTER directed by Adam Roffman & Luke Poling
THE SURRENDER directed by Steve Maing
TAPPING IN directed by Steven Hathaway
TASHI AND THE MONK directed by Johnny Burke & Andrew Hinton
TINY OUT LOUD directed by Andrew Ina
UNMAPPABLE directed by Diane Hodson & Jasmine Luoma
THE WATERSHED directed by Elise Hugu & Daniel Cojanu

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button