A celebration of genre films both old and new, the Boston Underground Film Festival returns for its 20th year later this month at Harvard Square, and the lineup is packed with new anticipated titles such as Jenn Wexler's The Ranger and Coralie Fargeat's Revenge, as well as a 35th anniversary screening of Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky:
Press Release: Cambridge, MA – New England’s spring festival season is nigh, with the 20th annual Boston Underground Film Festival returning to Harvard Square, bringing with it a five day fever dream of vanguard and description-defying filmmaking, including soul- thrillers/killers/chillers, to the Brattle Theatre and Harvard Film Archive from March 21st through the 25th. This year’s program includes some of the festival’s most eclectic and challenging selections to date, highlighting the harrowing, the horrifying, and the heady.
Kicking off the big 2-0 is the East Coast premiere of My Name is Myeisha, a phantasmagorical meditation on a beloved teen’s life cut tragically short, told from her perspective at the moment of her unjust death. “BUFF is deeply honored to mark its twentieth birthday by celebrating the poignant, powerful story of Myeisha (Tyisha Miller, the real-life inspiration for Myeisha), a young woman who did not make it to hers,” says Director of Programming, Nicole McControversy.
On the heels of its 2018 Slamdance world premiere, where it garnered both the Audience Award for Beyond Feature and the Slamdance Acting Award for breakout performance by lead Rhaechyl Walker, My Name is Myeisha is a bold and beautiful adaptation of co-writer Rickerby Hinds’ play, Dreamscape, that demands and deserves your attention. Director Gus Krieger and star Walker will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.
BUFF is taking its love of the beyond to the next level with a rare repertory screening of Slava Tsukerman’s underground masterpiece of avant-garde sci-fi and queer cinema, Liquid Sky. Nearly 35 years to the day since its theatrical release, BUFF is ecstatic to be presenting this neon-drenched, new wave, electroclashtastic cult classic on lush 35mm. Inspiring generations of creatives, filmmakers, musicians, and weirdos since its debut, Liquid Sky is a mind-melting must-see on the big screen.
Speaking of melting minds, BUFF is bringing double trouble from the French film vanguard with the East Coast premiere of Coralie Fargeat's genre-flipping, outré feature debut Revenge and the New England premiere of BUFF alumni Bruno Forzani & Hélène Cattet’s piece de resistance, Let the Corpses Tan. Fargeat revamps the rape-revenge thriller subgenre, spinning a subversive monomythic tale of female survival and rebirth with fierce and formidable Matilda Lutz in the lead. Forzani and Cattet deliver another gorgeous, sensory-saturated homage to vintage genre, this time honing their craft in pulpy poliziotteschi perfection against a bullet-riddled spaghetti-Western backdrop.
Bleeding into the realm of real-world horror, BUFF is thrilled to host the US premiere of Turkish writer-director Onur Saylak’s chilling debut Daha and the New England premiere of British writer-director Deborah Haywood’s stunning, deeply personal first feature Pin Cushion. While Haywood explores the visible and invisible wounds of intergenerational bullying as experienced by a mother and daughter in small town England, Saylak examines the cycle of intergenerational violence between a father and son caught up in the refugee smuggling trade in small town Turkey.
On the lighter side, BUFF is pleased as pizza to present the World Premiere of Stacy Buchanan & Jess Barnthouse’s homegrown horror doc Something Wicked This Way Comes and the New England Premiere of Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce’s Aussie-by-way-of-Japan mocku-doc Top Knot Detective. Buchanan & Barnthouse give New England’s pop-horror-culture the full-feature treatment, exploring the region’s viability for growing our independent film scene with input from genre luminaries, horror fans, natives, and local filmmakers. McCann & Pearce explore Japan’s most beloved ronin detective, Sheimasu Tantai, from the 1970s style martial arts series RONIN SUIRI TENTAI (Deductive Reasoning Ronin), and his Oz-based cult fandom so thoroughly and hilariously that it’s nigh impossible to discern fact from fiction...it’s somehow beyond both.
As usual, we’ll have: Our kid-friendly annual Saturday Morning Cartoons program with cereal smorgasbord, programmed and hosted by renowned curator, author, publisher, and founder of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, Kier-La Janisse; a veritable bounty of shorts programming celebrating fantastic music videos, animation, transgressive horror; and more! More than you could ever imagine.
BUFF is honored and exultant to be presenting the World Premiere of Orson Oblowitz’s The Queen of Hollywood Blvd, a sublime and stylish thrill ride along Tinseltown’s infamous mile-long haven of debauchery and debasement. Starring No Wave luminary Rosemary Hochschild (1978’s Table Conversation, 1979’s Minus Zero, 1983’s King Blank), badass Queen (of all our hearts) Mary must navigate Los Angeles’ seedy underworld of violence, prostitution and murder to save her kidnapped son and her strip club.
“A gift to cinephiles and genre fans, Queen is a lovingly crafted neo-noir tale of vengeance that evokes The Grifters with a Cassavetesian sensibility and a lush color palette that would make Michael Mann blush,” says Director of Programming Nicole McControversy. The film also features the legendary Michael Parks (Kill Bill Vol. 1, Then Came Bronson, From Dusk Til Dawn) in his final role.
Similarly inspired by genre films of yore—and coincidentally fueled by hallucinogenic drugs—the East Coast Premiere of The Ranger and New England Premiere of The Theta Girl round out a triple threat of lady-led ass-kicking and name-taking narrative features in this year’s program. In Christopher Bickel’s The Theta Girl, take-no-shit drug dealer Gayce must avenge the deaths of her all-girl-rock-band pals and discover how the drug she peddles connects them all in a web of murder and reality-bending mystery. Following its SXSW World Premiere next week, Jenn Wexler’s punk rock slasher The Ranger heads to BUFF, delivering a raucous thriller-in-the-woods that finds sharp-witted Chelsea and her pals facing off against an unhinged park ranger.
Speaking of badass women facing off with murderers in the woods, BUFF is pleased as pie to present the New England premiere of Agnieszka Holland’s (Europa Europa, The Secret Garden) genre-inspired mystery Spoor, an unconventional, charming, and visually stunning masterpiece that blends magical realism, forensic crime, and animal rights activism. Agnieszka Mandat stars as Janina Duszejko, a nature-protecting woman living alone in the Klodzko Valley who finds herself embroiled in an unusual murder mystery.
Speaking of mystery: BUFF is overjoyed to present a midnight secret screening of... well, we can’t tell you. Trust us when we say this highly-anticipated genre gem is appropriately placed at the witching hour for the most adventurous and bravest amongst us. What we can tell you is that we’re psyched beyond belief to present the East Coast Premiere of a truly unforgettable documentary, Josh Polon’s Slamdance award-winner MexMan, which follows Germán, a young Mexican-American artist and filmmaker striving to complete his first feature film while plagued by the ghost of a long-lost love and battling his producers for creative control.
Traveling the festival circuit on a deeply-deserved wave of appreciation and love, Guillermo Del Toro and Stephen King’s favorite genre film of 2017, Tigers Are Not Afraid, lands in Boston with an almighty roar as BUFF’s penultimate screening. Fusing social realism and fantasy, writer/director Issa López will be on hand at the Brattle Theatre to present her incredibly moving tale of children caught in the crossfire of Mexico’s cartel wars. Stunning and unforgettable, this is required viewing.
In classic BUFF fashion, the festival will be closing out its 20th year with the end all be all of Brazilian werewolf lesbian musicals: Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas’ Good Manners. Don’t be fooled by our cheeky summation: Good Manners is vanguard filmmaking at its best and bravest - a lush, matte painted, lycopanthic fairytale centered on the unusual relationship between two women from very different walks of life in São Paulo. Genre-bending and beautiful, let Good Manners grab you by the hand and take you on its incisive, werewolf-Almodovarian moonlit-stroll through class division and a love that knows no social bounds. See you on closing night.
Be sure to also check out our veritable bounty of shorts programming, celebrating fantastic music videos, animation, transgressive horror and more! Enough to make your heart burst with joy.
Tickets to screenings are on sale now.
BOSTON UNDERGROUND FIRST WAVE:
DAHA - US Premiere
Onur Saylak | Turkey | 2017
Young Gaza lives in a small town on Turkey’s Aegean coast and dreams of escaping the soul-crushing drudgery of the family business: smuggling refugees. Studious and still imbued with a youthful sense of optimism and innocence, Gaza is pulled deeper and deeper into a dark, immoral world of human suffering and exploitation by his domineering father; will he avoid becoming the monster he’s being raised to be?
LET THE CORPSES TAN - New England Premiere
Bruno Forzani, Hélène Cattet | France, Belgium | 2017
After stealing a cache of gold, Rhino and his gang discover a near-abandoned Mediterranean hamlet hideout, occupied by an inspiration-seeking woman. Their bucolic surroundings become a horrific battlefield when uninvited guests arrive on the scene to foil everyone’s plans.
LIQUID SKY - 35th Anniversary
Slava Tsukerman | USA | 1982
Heroin-seeking invisible aliens land on top of a NYC apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her androgynous, bisexual, nymphomaniac, fashion model lover: Margaret (played by co-writer Anne Carlisle). The aliens quickly get hip to a better drug--orgasmic pheromones--and start vaporizing her casual sex partners. Things get weirder as Margaret’s arch nemesis Jimmy (also played by Carlisle), a lonely, horny neighbor across the street, and a German scientist get involved in the proceedings.
MY NAME IS MYEISHA - Opening Night | East Coast Premiere
Gus Krieger | USA | 2018
On the evening of December 28th, 1998, Myeisha Jackson’s night ends with her asleep in her car, her cousins outside, and police on the way. In the fleeting moments before the unthinkable occurs, she awakes with a start inside her inner dreamscape and contemplates her life--what it was and what it was going to be. A metaphysical trip into Myeisha’s mind reveals a life brimming with promise on the cusp of adulthood--her secrets, goals, flaws, strengths, loves, and talents--and is fueled and expressed by her love of hip hop, dance, and spoken word as she comes to terms with what’s happened to her.
PIN CUSHION - New England Premiere
Deborah Haywood | UK | 2017
New to town, the inseparable dafty duo Lyn and her daughter Iona are excited to have a fresh start. Determined to establish herself successfully after a rocky start, Iona drifts away from her bestie/mum and becomes BFFs with the school’s equivalent of the “Heathers.” Forlorn, Lyn attempts to make friends of her own, but after a lifetime of being othered, she still struggles with the same vicious trials and tribulations of being different that her daughter now faces.
REVENGE - New England Premiere
Coralie Fargeat | France | 2017
What starts as a weekend getaway between a married man and his mistress quickly devolves into a deadly game of cat and mouse when his hunting buddies arrive. Director Fargeat revamps and recalibrates the rape-revenge trope from a female perspective, creating a violent, visceral monomyth about the rebirth and survival of a woman wronged seeking to even the score.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES - World Premiere
Jessica Barnthouse, Stacy Buchanan | USA | 2018
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a full-feature exploration into the popular horror culture of New England. Through discussions with genre luminaries, horror fans, and natives, the film discovers popular conventions within the genre and identifies how they're driven by the history, eerie settings, and social issues of the area. And through the stories of actors and local filmmakers, it aims to discover if the area's passion is strong enough to help grow an independent film industry.
TOP KNOT DETECTIVE - New England Premiere
Aaron McCann, Dominic Pearce | Australia, Japan | 2017
This is the story of how a failed Japanese samurai series, RONIN SUIRI TENTAI (Deductive Reasoning Ronin), became an instant Australian cult classic. Badly acted, translated and edited, the show centered around a detective samurai who solved crimes and killed monsters while avenging his master’s murder. This hilarious doc digs up the bizarre behind the scenes antics that it's creator and co-stars got up to, and investigates how the main star ended up in jail 20 years later...or maybe not!
BOSTON UNDERGROUND FINAL WAVE:
GOOD MANNERS - New England Premiere | Closing Night Film
Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra | Brazil, France | 2017
Clara, a lonely nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo, is hired by mysterious and wealthy Ana as the nanny for her unborn child. The two women develop a strong bond, but a fateful night changes their plans.
MEXMAN - East Coast Premiere
Josh Polon | USA | 2018 | Documentary
Germán is a young artist and filmmaker striving to complete his first feature film while plagued by the ghost of a long-lost love and a battle for creative control with his producers.
SECRET SCREENING - East Coast Premiere
For the brave, bold & beautiful creatures who crave a little terror at midnight.
SPOOR - New England Premiere
Agnieszka Holland | Poland | 2017
Janina Duszejko, an elderly woman, lives alone in the Klodzko Valley where a series of mysterious crimes are committed. Duszejko is convinced that she knows who or what the murderer is, but nobody believes her.
THE QUEEN OF HOLLYWOOD BLVD - World Premiere
Orson Oblowitz | USA | 2018
On her 60th birthday, the proud owner of a Los Angeles strip club finds herself in hot water over a twenty-five year old debt to the mob, leading her on a downward spiral of violence and revenge through the underbelly of Los Angeles.
THE RANGER - East Coast Premiere
Jenn Wexler | USA | 2018
When Chelsea and her friends get in trouble with the cops, they flee the city and go on the run. Fueled by a hallucinogenic drug called Echo, they hope to lay low—and get high—in an old family hideout in the woods. But Chelsea’s got reservations about going back to nature and secrets she’s not sharing with her friends. When a shot rings out, her past comes crashing back, and the punks find themselves pitted against the local authority— an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind.
THE THETA GIRL - New England Premiere
Christopher Bickel | USA | 2017
Gayce, a take-no-shit young woman, deals a hallucinogenic drug called "theta," facilitating an audience for her friends' all-girl rock band. When Gayce's friends are brutally murdered, she must solve the mystery behind the murders and protect herself from the killer. She discovers the connections between theta and the murders - and learns a terrifying truth. That the world -- indeed her whole reality -- is not as it seems.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID - New England Premiere
Issa López | Mexico | 2017
A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war.
Our kid-friendly annual Saturday Morning Cartoons program with cereal smorgasbord, programmed and hosted by renowned curator, author, publisher, and founder of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, Kier-La Janisse; a veritable bounty of shorts programming celebrating fantastic music videos, animation, transgressive horror; and more! More than you could ever imagine.