Local filmmakers showcased at Independent Film Festival Boston

Among the movies to screen at the Independent Film Festival Boston will be “Fairhaven” by Medford native Tom O’Brien (at left, with actress Alexie Gilmore).
Steve Haines for The Boston Globe
Among the movies to screen at the Independent Film Festival Boston will be “Fairhaven” by Medford native Tom O’Brien (at left, with actress Alexie Gilmore).

Over the past decade, the Independent Film Festival Boston has established itself as the preeminent nonniche film festival in the region. One of the reasons is the event’s commitment to showcasing local talent. The fest’s 10th anniversary is no exception: More than a dozen films on the schedule are directed by Boston-area filmmakers and all of them will be on hand to discuss their work with audiences after the screenings.

“Code of the West” is by Somerville filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen.

Somerville filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen drew on her background as a lecturer at Harvard Law School for “Code of the West” (April 26, 7:15 p.m., Somerville Theatre). The film follows the legal and emotional drama surrounding the crackdown on medical marijuana providers in Montana, the first state to have its legislature vote to repeal its medical marijuana law. Cohen directed “War Don Don,” which screened at IFFB in 2010, where it won the Karen Schmeer Award for editing and was later broadcast by HBO and nominated for two Emmys.

Joshua Z. Weinstein, a 2005 Boston University graduate, premieres his documentary short “I Beat Mike Tyson” (April 26, 9:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre), a portrait of Boston boxer Kevin McBride, an unknown in 2005 when he bested Tyson. Weinstein was the cinematographer for “Code of the West,” also in the IFFB.


Punk music in Boston is chronicled in "All Ages: The Boston Hardcore Film" (April 27, 7:30 p.m., Brattle Theatre). Director Drew Stone, a musician and filmmaker, now lives and works in New York but his documentary covers his time on the front lines of the punk scene as cofounder and lead singer of the hardcore bands The Mighty C.O.’s of Boston, and The High and the Mighty and Antidote of New York.

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Director and Polaroid photographer Grant Hamilton also has a personal connection to his film, “Time Zero: The Last Year of Polaroid Film” (April 28, 12:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre) Hamilton was inspired to make the film after Polaroid announced the discontinuation of instant film in 2008. He shot the documentary about the Cambridge-based company and aficionados of its product over several years and in many places around the world, including the Boston area. Hamilton has made several short films but this is his first feature.

“Booster” (April 28, 9:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre) is Boston native Matt Ruskin’s first narrative feature and the follow-up to his Sundance Channel documentary “The Hip Hop Project.” “Booster,” about a Boston-based petty thief forced to turn to serious robbery after his brother is arrested, features many Boston actors as well as veteran character actor Seymour Cassel.

Directors John Wilson and Chris Maggio operate the Boston-based film and arts collective The Future Machine. Their short film, “People Parade” (April 28, 10 p.m., Somerville Theatre), about a son who assembles veteran performers in tribute to his late father’s variety show, boasts a cast of buskers and street performers that the filmmakers found around Boston and Cambridge.

Medford native Tom O’Brien based his debut feature, “Fairhaven” (April 29. 12:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre) partly on his mother, Donna O’Brien (she plays the therapist in the film), who lived in Fairhaven for eight years. His father, Paul O’Brien (who plays a boat captain), is a Boston actor who did the requisite stint in “Shear Madness” and appeared with Israel Horowitz’s Gloucester Stage Company. A produced and published playwright, Tom O’Brien began collaborating on “Fairhaven” five years ago with actor Chris Messina.


Boston writer/director Luke Poling and Marblehead native Tom Bean teamed up for their debut feature documentary “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself” (April 29, 5:30 p.m, Brattle Theatre), about the late adventurer, intellectual, participatory journalist, and founder of The Paris Review.

Lyda Kuth is well known on the local film scene, but not, until now, as a filmmaker. Kuth is the executive director of the LEF Foundation, a private organization that supports filmmakers at various stages of their projects through grants. Kuth’s personal documentary “Love and Other Anxieties” (April 29, 3:15 p.m., Somerville Theatre) is about her own coming to terms with empty-nest syndrome and middle age. (See Ty Burr’s festival picks on opposite page.)

“The Whirlpool” (April 29, 3:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre) is Dorchester resident Alvin Case’s debut feature, a French-language, romantic mystery. Born in the Dominican Republic, Case is a self-taught filmmaker who studied photography while majoring in printmaking, painting, and design. His art videos and films have been shown at galleries in Boston, New York City, and Paris.

“From Nothing, Something” (April 29, 5:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre) is a documentary that examines the creative process. It includes profiles of novelist Tom Perrotta, songwriter Sara Quin, architect Preston Scott Cohen, and cancer researchers Moungi Bawendi and W. David Lee. It’s the feature directorial debut of Boston filmmaker, songwriter, and advertising industry veteran Tim Cawley (he works for Boston advertising giant Hill, Holliday), who has made two well-regarded short films.

Melissa Dowler and Tom Dowler, the husband-and-wife team behind Long Haul Films, live and work on South Street in downtown Boston's Leather District, the same neighborhood as the South Street Diner. Their documentary short, “24 Hours at the South Street Diner” (April 30, 6:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre), is their first film.


Actor/director Alex Karpovsky, who lives in Newton, directs and stars in his latest film, “Rubberneck” (May 1, 9:30 p.m., Coolidge Corner Theatre). It’s described as “a sexually charged, slow-burn thriller,” shot entirely in Boston and co-written by Canton resident Garth Donovan. Karpovsky attracted festival attention with his debut feature, “The Hole Story.” He’ll be seen in the upcoming Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and has the recurring role of “Ray Ploshansky” in the new HBO comedy series “Girls.”

Loren King may be reached at