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IFFBoston documentaries feature conspiracies and compassion

A scene from “Dark Money.” IFFB

Documentaries are always an important part of the Independent Film Festival of Boston. Here are five standouts on this year’s schedule.

CRIME + PUNISHMENT In the tradition of Frank Serpico, 12 New York City police officers put their careers on the line to expose the department’s quota system. Director Stephen Maing shows how the policy of forcing officers — mostly minorities — to make needless arrests is designed to raise money for the city budget. It also encourages racial injustice — including events such as the 2014 death of Eric Garner. (April 26, Brattle Theatre; a Q&A with Maing follows the screening)


DARK MONEY Moneyed interests seem to have taken over our democracy since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowed election contributions without limits and with anonymity. But as seen in Kimberly Reed’s film, plucky local activists in Montana fight on. When outsiders seeking to exploit the state’s resources try to buy local elections, these honorable people — mostly Republican — fight back. (April 29, Somerville Theatre)

INTELLIGENT LIVES At the beginning of Dan Habib’s film the actor Chris Cooper talks about how doctors tried to persuade him and his wife, Marianne Leone, to put their late son, Jesse, born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, into an institution. They refused, and Jesse attended high school, where he bloomed into an outstanding student and gifted poet. Habib profiles three other young people with intellectual disabilities who have also persevered, and puts their struggles and successes in the context of the nation’s history of marginalizing such people. (April 27, Somerville; a Q&A with Habib and Cooper and Leone, the film’s executive producers, follows)

NOTHING IS TRUER THAN TRUTH We live in a golden age of conspiracy theories. One of the oldest and least sinister contends that the plays of William Shakespeare were in fact written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Director Cheryl Eagan-Donovan queries experts on this claim, including the actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, and travels to Venice and Verona and other settings of Shakespeare plays to investigate. Whether he was the Bard or not, de Vere was a fascinating guy. Maybe someone should write a play about him. (April 29, Brattle; a Q&A with the director, co-producer and editor Zimo Huang, Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter editor Alex McNeil, and others follows)


BLACK MEMORABILIA In this arch and artful film, Chico Colvard examines the centuries-old proliferation of images and objects depicting demeaning black stereotypes that have become marketable collectibles. Among those he profiles are a widow who works in a factory in China that produces fake copies of antique piggy banks in the form of a grinning black caricature; an antiques dealer from North Carolina who sells such items — as well as KKK and Confederate souvenirs — at flea markets; and an African-American artist from Brooklyn who tries to reclaim such degrading imagery by including it in her work. (April 29, Somerville; a Q&A with the director follows)