If high-decibel parties, chilly strolls, or waiting around for the midnight hour to strike are not your idea of a memorable New Year’s Eve, there’s always the movies. Sure, the multiplex is stocked with holiday releases, but there are other film options this weekend that allow viewers to escape and celebrate at the same time.
First Night Boston again offers a film program as part of its all-day festivities on Saturday. A centerpiece of that programming is the Festival of International Short Films at the Museum of Fine Arts, which screens in one-hour increments at noon, 1:15, 2:30, and 3:45 p.m. Admission is free with a First Night button.
The shorts festival is a collection of recent, family-friendly films from all over the world, curated by the MFA Film Department. It includes “Fisher’’ by Yoram Benz (US, 2011) about a loner who’s accidentally pushed out to sea, where he discovers a whole new world underwater. “88 mph’’ by GPG and Jean-Pierre Bernier (Canada, 2011) is a music video of the French-Canadian band Le Matos. In “Casus Belli’’ by Yorgos Zois (Greece, 2011), a continuous tracking shot shows people from all walks of life waiting in seven different types of queues, revealing an often wry commentary on social divisions. “The Storyteller’’ by Nanita Jain (UK, 2011) is about 7-year-old Nirmala’s attempts to grapple with the demons of her grandfather’s dementia when he starts to forget the details of her favorite story. “Dimanches’’ (Sundays) by Valéry Rosier (Belgium, 2011) is a look at how mankind faces the passage of time. Structured into short, tableau-like sequences, the film portrays the activities of several people in a small Belgian town: one takes a bath, another a walk, several attend a country club dance.
Time, of course, is the subject of the acclaimed video installation “The Clock’’ at the MFA’s Loring Gallery until Saturday at 4:45 p.m. World-renowned artist Christian Marclay’s ode to time is comprised of thousands of film clips, some recognizable, some not, that play in a 24-hour loop in sync with the actual time. The Boston Society of Film Critics recently cited “The Clock’’ for best editing in 2011, and the entire installation was awarded a special commendation. The show’s run was extended to the end of the year, so Saturday will be your last chance to see it.
The Roxbury Film Festival, New England’s largest film festival dedicated to works by and about people of color, teams with First Night to present the documentary “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone’’ at 8:55 p.m. Saturday at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 200. Christopher Metzler and Lev Anderson’s film charts the 25-year career of Fishbone, a punk/funk band from South Central Los Angeles, and its dynamic frontmen whose defiance of categorization may have cost them fame and fortune. Curated by the Color of Film Collaborative and ACT Roxbury, the entire film program runs from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. and also features several shorts. These include the 27-minute documentary “On the Grind,’’ directed and produced by James Cheeks III, about skateboarding culture; Amar Chebib’s “Mish Mush,’’ a 19-minute film about a young Syrian poet who decides to flee the country when he’s forced into military service; “Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears,’’ Raafi Rivero’s 20-minute coming-of-age comedy about two African-American college students who are about to graduate from Princeton University; and “Hits and Mrs.,’’ Jerome Tarter’s 15-minute study of a professional thief.
Also on the First Night bill is one of its most popular film events: the New England Anime Society’s program of Japanese animation. It screens at the Hynes Convention Center, Room 312, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Marx Brothers and more
Another local tradition is the Brattle Theatre’s New Year’s programming. This year, the homey Harvard Square institution dusts off “Strange Days,’’ Kathryn Bigelow’s 1995 sci-fi/neo-noir thriller that takes place on New Year Eve 1999. Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny, a self-loathing cop who deals in illegal recordings that allow the user to experience another person’s memories. When things go awry, Lenny and his friend Mace (Angela Bassett) must race against the clock to unravel a conspiracy. Even the last screening at 7:30 p.m. allows plenty of time to get to First Night fireworks. Or head home for an early night, since film buffs will want to return to the Brattle on New Year’s Day for the Marx Brothers Marathon. What better way to kick off 2012 than with “A Night at the Opera’’ (12:30 and 7:45 p.m.); “Animal Crackers’’ (2:30 and 9:45 p.m.); “Monkey Business’’ (4:30 p.m.) and “Duck Soup’’ (6:15 p.m.)?