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Boston International Film Festival returns for 21st year

Some 30 countries will be represented in this year’s lineup, with screenings starting Thursday at AMC Boston Common 19

“It’s Spring” is the opening night film of the 21st Boston International Film Festival.Roman Musheghyan

The Boston International Film Festival returns April 13-18, showing films from Mexico, South Africa, Haiti, and other countries.

The festival includes 60 feature and short films, representing 30 countries. Now in its 21st year, the festival will be completely in-person with screenings at AMC Boston Common 19.

“We are super excited this year to bring movies from different countries as usual and keep the tradition going,” Patrick Jerome, the festival’s founder and executive director said.

The festival starts Thursday with a red carpet event at 4 p.m. at AMC Boston Common 19, where actors and filmmakers will be in attendance. The opening night film is “It’s Spring,” an Armenian film directed by Roman Musheghyan about the tense relationships between three generations of men amid the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 2016. While the red carpet and screening is sold out, tickets for a gala held at Royale after the screening are on sale for $55.

Ben Stiller in “Bleecker,” which will be shown Saturday at the 21st Boston International Film Festival. Edith Hagigi

The festival is organized into 17 sessions, most of which include multiple films. One distinctive program is Friday’s session four, sponsored by the nonprofit Women in Film & Video New England and consisting of short films directed and produced by women. Another is Saturday’s session nine, which features horror short films.


Eileen Kenner, the festival’s city of Boston liaison, noted the politically engaged films in the lineup, including the short “Infraction,” a US film written and directed by Timothy Blackwood. The film, screening during session eight on Saturday, is based on the real story of Terrance Lewis, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1996 murder in Philadelphia and served more than 20 years in prison before being exonerated in 2019.

“Infraction” and “It’s Spring” are “must-watch” films, said Kenner, because they “[talk] about what’s really going on in the world today ... and how we can work together when our backs are against the wall.”


Jerome also highlighted a film in session eight. “Ghuspaith Between Borders,” an Indian short film by Mihir Lath, is about an Indian photojournalist facing difficulties trying to cross the border between India and Bangladesh and has “beautiful scenery,” Jerome said.

Screening committee members unanimously selected “Havana” for the festival, Jerome said. The South Korean movie directed by Yong-ho Hong follows an attorney and his client, a woman fighting an accusation that she murdered her husband.

“The movie has a beautiful development that will bring you to a very unpredictable turn of events,” Jerome said.

“Shelter in Solitude" will screen Sunday at the 21st Boston International Film Festival. Vibeke Muasya

Jerome recommends two other notable films, both US features: “Bleecker” and “Shelter in Solitude.” “Bleecker,” screening in session seven on Saturday and directed by Edith Hagigi and starring Ben Stiller, focuses on interconnected stories of people living in New York City — a “family, comedy type of film with [a] little twist of drama,” Jerome said. “Shelter in Solitude,” screening in session 13 on Sunday and directed by Vibeke Muasya, is about a relationship that forms between a country singer and a person on death row.

On closing night, Monday, there will be an awards ceremony and party at Chinatown’s Empire Garden Restaurant; tickets cost $45.

Boston International Film Festival. April 13-18. $15-$250. AMC Boston Common 19. 175 Tremont St.

Abigail Lee can be reached at