The Beacon explores the 2008 Boston Independent Film Festival

by Beacon Staff • April 23, 2008

Forget Facebook and other mindless distractions, stimulate your cranium in between cramming for exams, drafting final essays or putting together your portfolio with a few films premiering at the fifth anniversary of the Independent Film Festival of Boston.

If you're a film major and completely want to blow off your final projects, just tell your professor that you've been watching the newest crop of independent films-at least you'll have a fantastic excuse. This isn't only a fest for those studying cinema, though-it's for any cinephile in the greater Boston area.

With directors and actors from 51 of the 58 flicks stopping by to socialize and attend QAs, it's worth sacrificing your tan to enjoy one week of bliss in the dark. Here's a brief preview of a few selections featured this year.

- NM

PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND

Just when you thought you had seen enough of Dakota Fanning, in steps the doe-eyed Elle Fanning, Dakota's look-alike little sister, armed and ready to snag some indie credibility with her newest film, Phoebe in Wonderland (she was the spoiled brat in 2006's Babel). The film centers on Phoebe, a young girl who may or may not have a mental disability.

Guided by a no-nonsense teacher named Miss Dodger (Patricia Clarkson), Phoebe attempts to act in the school's production of Alice in Wonderland, all the while slipping in and out of an intricate psychological world of her own. Who knows, if little Fanning proves in Wonderland to be as talented as big Fanning (a.k.a able to cry on cue), expect bigger films in her future-possibly Uptown Girls 2!

- HV

Somerville Theatre

April 25, 7 p.m. April 27, 7:30 p.m.

SAVAGE GRACE

Julianne Moore has played a fair amount of crazed 1950s housewives (The Hours, Far From Heaven), but her role as Barbara Baekeland in Tom Kalin's Savage Grace seems to push every proverbial envelope imaginable.

Aside from plotting a murder, Moore's Barbara also decides to embark on a psychosexual escapade with-wait for it-her own son.

Expect an overload of crass Oedipal references in Kalin's twisted adaptation of Natalie Robin's novel, as well as a typically-stylized and emotionally-exhausting performance from the always-ballsy Julianne Moore.

- HV

Coolidge Corner Theatre

April 25, 7 p.m.

PING PONG PLAYA

Academy Award winning documentarian Jessica Yu (Breathing Lessons) embraces racial stereotypes. Yu takes a whack at narrative filmmaking with Ping Pong Playa, a story about an Asian teen named C-Dub Wang who is forced to teach ping-pong after his mother and brother are injured in a car accident.

Although C-Dub dreams of playing basketball, his entire family is dedicated to Ping Pong. His brother is a renowned champion, his father owns a Ping Pong shop and his mother teaches the game at the local community center. Once his family is incapable of running two of the three businesses on their own, it is up to C-Dub to drop all other passions and take on his family's source of income and joy. And I'm only guessing that he comes to love the art of Ping Pong in the process.

- HV

Coolidge Corner

April 27, 2 p.m.

Brattle Theatre

April 26, 11:30 a.m.