by Sara Farizan
BOSTON-This weekend kicks off the 27th annual Boston film festival, a haven for creative projects that may fly under the radar at larger festivals like Tribeca or Toronto, but are deservingly honored and featured in Beantown.
With strong contenders and famous thespians, the festival from September 16-22 features shorts, documentaries and narrative films. Many of the films do not rely on special effects or sultry starlets to grab the audience’s attention, but are indie driven productions with topical content close to the filmmaker’s hearts.
The festival begins with the film ‘Certainty’ written by “Glee” star (everyone’s favorite Dad, Burt Hummel) Mike O’Malley, with an all-star cast including Bobby Moynihan of ‘Saturday Night Live’ notoriety, Giancarlo Esposito from AMC’s hit “Breaking Bad” and icon Valerie Harper of “Rhoda” fame. ‘Certainty’ is the story of a young Catholic couple going through the mandated pre-marital counseling process and the premiere will have many cast members in attendance including director Peter Askin.
Other narrative films generating buzz this weekend include “Take Me Home” a romantic comedy starring real life husband and wife Sam and Amber Jaeger, about a disillusioned woman entering a cab and telling the driver to ‘Just Drive’. And so he does, with the unlikely pair finding themselves on a cross-country trip from New York to California.
“96 Minutes”, a provocative thriller starring Brittany Snow, is a violent tour de force of youthful aggression based on true events involving a car-jacking.
“Fort McCoy” is based on the true story of director Kate Connor’s grandparents who lived next to a Nazi POW camp in Wisconsin during World War II, starring Eric Stoltz.
Lea Thompson will also be at hand starring in “The Trouble with the Truth”, making it’s world debut at the festival, about a divorced couple revisiting their past the night before their daughter’s wedding.
“Serial Buddies” is a dark comedy about two prospective serial killers who pool their efforts and find themselves on a road trip encountering porn-stars, Kathie Lee Gifford and clowns. “Serial Buddies” has been dubbed as the “first serial killer buddy movie of all time” and director Keven Undergaro along with producer Maria Menounos, of broadcast journalism fame, will be in attendance.
The documentary films featured at this year’s festival also stand out with topical subjects that will have audiences engaged and inspired. Academy Award winner Alex Gibney’s “Catching Hell” features Steve Bartman, the fan many deem responsible for costing the 2008 Chicago Cubs a chance at the World Series by reaching for what he thought was a foul ball. The documentary also features Bill Buckner, the former Red Sox first baseman most scrutinized for an error in the 1986 World Series.
Making it’s U.S. premiere “First Position” follows six ballerinas, ages 9-19, as they intensely prepare to compete at a prestigious international competition in hopes of landing scholarships for ballet schools.
“Give Me A Shot of Anything: House Calls to the Homeless” tells the story of Boston doctor Jim O’Connell making house calls and treating homeless patients in the Boston area. The film’s protagonist, Jim O’Connell, will be on hand for a Q&A after the film on Monday, September 19th.
“The Education of Dee Dee Ricks” which will premiere on HBO October 27th is a documentary putting a human face to not only breast cancer but to uninsured patients battling disease. The film centers on the relationship between Dee Dee Ricks, a self-made millionaire, and Cynthia Dodson an uninsured lower class woman both faced with breast cancer.
Director Perri Peltz spoke with Artscope about the film,“We hope putting a human face to this topic will inspire people to talk about health reform and maybe even inspire them to demand change. Dee Dee’s willingness to share her story and the intimate parts of it, highlight a fundamental injustice in this country. Her friendship with Cynthia Dodson, who like Dee Dee, was fighting breast cancer but unlike Dee Dee didn’t have health insurance, illustrates what can happen when you are sick and uninsured. Why is it that uninsured women are 8 to 9 times more likely to die of breast cancer than insured women?”
The festival also features a panel entitled From Script to Screen on Saturday, September 17th from 3-4:30. The panel features screenwriter’s Sam Jaeger (Take Me Home), Academy Award® nominee Keith Dorrington, Writer Producer of The Fighter; Eric Schaeffer, (Gravity). All events and films will be held at the Stuart Street Playhouse located at 200 Stuart Street Boston.
Many screenings are open to the public and for a list of all films, tickets and show times visit www.bostonfilmfestival.org/schedule.shtml