It’s the most wonderful time of the year again. The fifteenth annual Independent Film Festival Boston begins on Wednesday night, kicking off Holy Week for the city’s cinephiles.
Unspooling at the Somerville, Brattle and Coolidge Corner Theatres, the non-profit IFFBoston and its all-volunteer staff showcase independent films in independent venues, far from the madding multiplexes. There’s also a phalanx of panels and parties where moviemakers and movie lovers can come together once more to educate and celebrate.
The Opening Night selection, “Stumped,” tells the inspiring story of Boston’s own Will Lautzenheiser, who lost both arms and legs to a nasty bacterial infection and started a new career in stand-up comedy to cope. In 2014 he became the third patient to undergo a double-arm transplant here at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The filmmakers, Lautzenheister and even his surgeons will all be at the Somerville screening.
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Writer-director Brett Haley came to IFFBoston two years ago with the surprise sleeper hit “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” and he’s re-teamed with that film’s co-star Sam Elliott for the Centerpiece Narrative Spotlight, “The Hero.” Elliott gives a performance of enormous warmth and subtlety as a washed up Western movie star who tries to clean up the mess he’s made of things before riding off into the sunset.
In the Documentary Centerpiece Spotlight, local legend Errol Morris’ “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photgraphy” profiles his friend and fellow Cantabrigian, chronicling her unconventional career shooting large-format Polaroid stills. Doc fans also won’t want to miss the latest from “Hoop Dreams” and “Life Itself” director Steve James. “Abacus: Small Enough To Jail” investigates why only one bank was prosecuted for financial crimes that caused the 2008 recession.
Milton’s own Jenny Slate is back with her “Obvious Child” director Gillian Robespierre for the “Landline,” a bittersweet tale of infidelity in the smartphone-free 1990s. On the darker side, a cast of alt-comedy all-stars including Michael Cera, Judy Greer, Gillian Jacobs and Jeff Garlin heap humiliations on hapless Brett Gelman in “Lemon.”
With over a hundred more features and shorts screening throughout the next week, IFFBoston continues to be our city’s foremost celebration of cinema. And to think it’s not yet even old enough to drive!
The fifteenth annual Independent Film Festival Boston runs through May 3 at the Somerville, Brattle and Coolidge Corner Theatres. For showtimes and ticket information visit iffboston.org.