Brad Anderson's Transsiberian opens the sixth Independent Film Festival of Boston
The dust will have hardly settled from the Boston Marathon and the other events celebrating Patriots’ Day when the Independent Film Festival of Boston starts up its sixth and biggest year with local favorite Brad Anderson’s TRANSSIBERIAN (Somerville Theatre: April 23 at 7:30 pm, with Anderson attending). I don’t know whether the organizers of the festival have made the connection between their own war for independence and the one kicked off 223 years ago, but they should. Like those stalwart revolutionaries of yore, the IFFB is determined to wrest cinematic freedom from the imperial power of the Hollywood studios. Or at least show cinephiles in these parts a bunch of exceptional movies (58 features by my count, and numerous shorts) they would never get to see otherwise. Also on hand will be dozens of the folks who made the movies, among them indie giants Harmony Korine, Guy Maddin and Tom Kalin. At the rate it’s going, the IFFB could soon make Patriots’ Day as well known for a film festival as for a foot race.
Here are reviews of some of the movies that’ll screen the second day, April 24. (Transsiberian wasn’t available for preview.) We’ll cover the rest of the IFFB, April 25-29, next week.
Somerville Theatre: April 24 At 10 Pm + April 28 at 8:30 pm | Directors Michael Selditch + Rob Tate; Subject Jay McCarroll
The title refers not to the less-than-Warholian span of fame Jay McCarroll enjoyed following his win a few years back on the Bravo reality-TV show Project Runway but rather to how long it takes to run his first collection over the catwalk during New York City’s Fashion Week. McCarroll wants to prove that he’s not just all telegenic personality, and to be the first participant from the show to make it in the fashion world. At first he seems as full of it as the hot-air balloons that are one of his trademark emblems, but as the weeks tick down to show time, it’s hard not to root for him even as he drives his unpaid collaborators nuts. Eleven Minutes is fascinating as much for its depiction of the process (who knew the last-minute arrival of shoes could be so exciting?) as for the portrayal of McCarroll’s bubbly, bitchy but resilient personality (directors Michael Selditch and Rob Tate are his pals but still pretty impartial) under pressure.
Somerville Theatre: April 24 At 9:15 pm; Coolidge Corner Theatre: April 25 at midnight
Grant Gee’s documentary about the meteoric Manchester band starts out as a portrait of the city before going on to look at the band as a whole, but it quickly focuses on the inescapable specter of Ian Curtis, the haunted lead singer and songwriter who killed himself in 1980, at the age of 23. The interviews — with ex-bandmates (and current members of New Order) and other significant players, among them the late rock entrepreneur Tony Wilson, Curtis’s lover Annik Honoré (but not his wife, Debbie Curtis, whose book Touching from a Distance the film quotes in intertitles), and Anton Corbijn, who photographed the band in their prime and directed the disappointing Curtis bio-pic Control — pale before the archival footage of Curtis in performance. After three decades he remains otherworldly, ecstatic, and doomed.
MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY: The loneliness and longing may be universal, but the story is specific.
Somerville Theatre: April 24 at 10:30 pm + April 26 At 8 pm | Director Taylor Greeson
Two life-altering events overtook 12-year-old Taylor Greeson in 1993: he was seduced by an older boy and became the boy’s lover, and his 15-year-old brother was stabbed to death under mysterious circumstances. That’s a lot to cover in a 90-minute documentary, and director Taylor Greeson admits as much in his fumbling, painfully candid, and unassumingly shrewd voiceover narration. Greeson made four trips back to the scenes of the crimes near Billings, Montana, and the details of each become eerily intertwined as he nears some terrible truth and reconciliation. He talks with his mother, his sister, his dying grandfather; he interviews an eyewitness and officials involved in the murder trial. He looks through a box of evidence from the murder that includes graphic Polaroids and bloodstained clothes. At last he confronts both the man who seduced him (“my first boyfriend,” says the seemingly well-adjusted Greeson) and the convicted killer. Rough going, like all genuine traumas, and extremely powerful.