I first covered Independent Film Festival Boston back in 2012, when I was but an inexperienced festival-going critic (and an inexperienced critic in general). I was still writing for my man Marc’s blog, GoSeeTalk, at that time, before I started writing for outlets like Screen Rant and getting addicted to the hustle. Things were different then, for me and for IFFBoston. In the years since, I have written about the festival for Movie Mezzanine (here, here, and here) as well as Paste Magazine (here and here). Even in such a small window of time, the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, to the point where I don’t think it’s unfair to characterize the shindig as Sundance in miniature.
Except that it is unfair. I have never attended Sundance, and I won’t hold my breath waiting for the chance to do so, but on paper we’re talking about a much larger event in total. In terms of second-hand anecdotal evidence, the whole thing sounds like seven straight days of frying your brain watching movies and possibly catching a cold due to lack of sleep and/or exposure to Winter in Park City. Put it a different way: Listening to my friends talk about Sundance makes me exhausted. It is stressful just to hear about it.
That is not my experience with IFFBoston, for obvious reasons – the scale isn’t the same, and at the end of every festival day I get to go home and get a good night’s rest. I don’t even have to think about getting on a plane. Plus, c’mon: Boston is Boston. I don’t know what your average metropolitan zone in Utah is like, but Boston’s spirit and attitude both make the city uniquely prickly and welcoming all at the same time. (This is all saying nothing of the theaters where IFFBoston pitches its tents, which are easily among the best I’ve ever been to in my life, including The Angelika Film Center in New York City.)
So comparing Independent Film Festival Boston to Sundance doesn’t totally work, and yet if you take a look at this year’s line-up you can’t help but make that comparison. Morris From America. Kate Plays Christine. Under the Shadow. The Fits. The Intervention. Little Men. Hunt For the Wilderpeople. The list goes on. Maybe the more accurate thing to say is that the fine folks at IFFBoston work hard to bring the best of what Sundance offers back home, and as with 2015, that is what they’ve done in 2016.
Gaze at the festival’s full line-up here. Keep an eye on their page, too, as more announcements come through – tickets are going on sale in about a week (sooner for all of you IFFBoston members). I’ll be there for as many movies as I can stomach. If you’re reading this and you’re local, then maybe I’ll see you there.