scene here | local films, festivals, and faces

Calling all movie lovers, Natalie Portman has something to show you

Natalie Portman has curated the first-ever Boston Calling Film Festival.
Boston Calling
Natalie Portman has curated the first-ever Boston Calling Film Festival.

Boston Calling is known primarily as a music festival with some pretty high-profile acts — Eminem, the Killers, and Jack White will headline the ninth edition at the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston May 25-27. But there’s also a film component this year with a pretty high-profile guest programmer: Natalie Portman. The Oscar winner and Harvard graduate has curated the first-ever Boston Calling Film Festival with the series “The Female Gaze” at the Brattle Theatre, running May 22-24.

(Portman was supposed to curate a “film experience” showcase during last year’s Boston Calling but it was canceled due to scheduling conflicts. Although she isn’t expected to attend the Brattle screenings, she is scheduled to headline Boston Calling’s comedy and entertainment lineup, indoors at the arena that will play host to the music festival throughout the weekend.)

A vocal proponent of the “Time’s Up” initiative, Portman blew up social media when, during her presentation of the best director award at last year’s Golden Globes, she called out the “all male” nominees. For the Brattle film series, Portman has selected a range of international films that she calls “examples of great works of art in which similar storylines have female tropes that play out quite differently depending on who is telling the story,” according to a release. These include two looks at female sexuality: director Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita” (1962) and Lucretia Martel’s “The Holy Girl” (2005), both screening May 22 on 35mm film. Marielle Heller’s modern coming-of-age story “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” (2015) also screens May 22. On May 23, Chantal Akerman’s feminist landmark “Jeanne Dielman” (1975) starring Delphine Seyrig screens, along with a new restoration of Luis Bunuel’s “Belle de Jour” (1967) starring Catherine Deneuve. The series concludes May 24 with Rungano Nyoni’s debut feature “I Am Not a Witch” (2017); and William Friedkin’s director’s cut of his horror classic “The Exorcist” (1973).

For more information, go to

On the road


Also celebrating its ninth year is the Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival, which its organizers say is the only film festival in the country that focuses specifically on bicycle travel and adventure. The festival takes place May 30 at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Regent Theatre, with a “best of the fest” screening on May 31, made up popular films culled from past festivals.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Among the highlights in this year’s festival is the US premiere of “INARI,” this year’s Grand Jury Prize winner. It’s a six-minute short about a father and his four-year-old son on their first overnight bike trip together under the Northern Lights in Finland. Other screenings include the US premiere of director Matthew Newton’s 27-minute Australian adventure “Lowest to Highest.” That film centers on five friends with physical disabilities who attempt to be the first to cycle from the continent’s lowest point, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre — a salt lake in the South Australian Outback — to its highest point, the snow-capped summit of Mount Kosciuszko. The journey is more than 1,300 miles. In the seven-minute “Escape,” a Montreal-based DJ called JaBig buys a bicycle on a whim and attempts to beat the record for the longest continuous bike ride in a single country.

For more information, go to

Justice for all

Filmmaker Betsy West and retired judge and frequent media commentator Nancy Gertner will discuss West’s new documentary “RBG,” about US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, following the 2 p.m. screening on May 13 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Wellesley College political science professor Tom Burke moderates the discussion. Directed by West and Julie Cohen, “RBG” examines the 84-year-old Ginsburg’s life and work, particularly the vigorous dissenting opinions and trailblazing role in defining gender-discrimination law that have endeared her to a new generation of young feminists and earned her the moniker “Notorious RBG.”

For more information,
go to

Loren King can be reached at