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Massachusetts Independent Film Festival at Cambridge's Brattle Theater

Massachusetts Independent Film Festival
Massachusetts Independent Film Festival

Unfortunately, I did not get to cover all of the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival. Still, the Boston Film Industry Examiner counts himself lucky to have been part of it at all. My account of Day 1 is linked here.

Day 3 took place at the Brattle in Cambridge. It is like the Somerville Theater where the first two days were held, an intimate and pleasant venue. Indeed, an idyllic spot in spite of being in Cantabrigia where parking is a blood sport.

Once one got by that atrocity, the films on offer were worth it. In this space, the Boston film Industry Examiner would like to highlight a few.

The festival continues showing strong documentaries. There are a lot of headaches to putting on a film festival in this country, but government suppression is not one of them. Director Yijun He brought her When You Can’t See the Film. Indie filmmakers have to have courage in the Middle Kingdom, and they do.

A Chair Fit For an Angel is about an almost extinct sect that still has a hold on many imaginations. Though the founder of the Shakers was English, the denomination was a truly American phenomenon. That said, the impact in these latter days transcends continent and nationality. Francophone filmmaker Raymond St.Jean explores many threads. In Finland, he highlights the work of choreographer Tero Saarinen’s Shaker influenced Borrowed Light dance piece. Musician Joel Cohen has drawn inspiration from the group. His commentary informs the film and he was present for the Q and A.

There were several foreign films, but too many to be fair to all. NUIT / BETON by Noe Weil is a psycho thriller about a drug dealer being squeezed by his supplier for monetary tardiness. The supplier is in control of his employee until he isn’t. A lesson for sociopaths everywhere, don’t use zip ties as handcuffs.

Okay, I admit, I was a little worried. MassIFF to truly be MassIFF had to show me some blood and gore and it was taking some time. Lance Marshall’s The Demon Deep in Oklahoma took care of that. Katie is beset by a nocturnal fiend and brother Wes is there as an anchor through her nights of hell. Wes’ friend Tommy arrives. Tommy upsets whatever fragile equilibrium exists.

The penultimate offering, director Pete Yagmin’s Dark Roast was short and not too sweet. Dianna Porter plays death again. She is not the sensitive comforter of souls we saw in Devil May Care. In DR the lass is la- di-da, it’s what she does. Her new boyfriend, played by Shaun Callaghan, has a problem with it, but not for long.

The final screening was all too poignant. Most of us have an early dream that is abandoned when it becomes obvious we aren’t going to be Wayne Gretzky, to give an example.

Music is another matter. The dream can persist even when there is no economic hope. Director Frankie Frain’s Having Fun Up There is the chronicle of that life. Jon Ryan as Mark is the guy. He is cursed by his accurate self-awareness. He knows that it is time, in the words of Lenny Bruce, to “grow up and sell out,” but he won’t or can’t separate.

Maria Natapov, MasIFF’s interviewer, co-stars as the train wreck of a girl friend. Hana Carpenter is Jon’s biggest fan. Maybe if she had not seen value in our hero’s work, it would have been easier to face reality.

As a supporter of local indie, I live in hope and prepare for disappointment. It is a reason to celebrate when something unique comes around. Having Fun Up There was a bittersweet pleasure. Everyone over 35 knows a Mark. I don’t know if Team MassIFF had this in mind saving it for the last movie of the day, but it worked.

Having Fun Up There won for best writing (congratulations Frankie Frain and Geoff Tarulli) as well as Best New England Film.

The Boston Film Industry Examiner, much to his regret, had to miss the last day, including the after party at Tasty Burger just down the street.

Ah well, a year of anticipation until MassIFF 2015, and no parking problems to worry about till then.

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