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Boston Underground Film Festival Promises ‘Cinervana’

You Won’t Be Alone Image Courtesy of Focus Features | Hatching Image Courtesy of IFC Midnight | All images provided by Boston Underground Film Festival.

The Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF) returns to Harvard Square this year, reconvening its annual status with its 22nd year. The five-day festival marks BUFF’s first physical festival since 2019, contributing to Fall virtual festival Nightstream over the last two years. This year’s edition brings a heavy dose of horror from all over, including heavy hitters from Sundance, Slamdance, and Cannes that the press release says will bring a sense of “sublime cinervana.”

A group of girls perform on a pink hued stage in Medusa
Image from Medusa courtesy of Boston Underground Film Festival

This year’s BUFF highlights include a ton of films Horror Obsessive has already been buzzing about, including Goran Stolevski’s You Won’t Be Alone. The Sundance grand jury prize nominee, about a cursed witch learning how to be human in 19th century Macedonia after spending her youth in isolation, will set the tone for the festival’s return as we all emerge from our individual bunkers post-covid. Other Sundance films, creature-feature Hatching, and the heavily Polanski-inspired Watcher will also be on the menu.

Other Festival favorites include Avalon Fast‘s Honeycomb, fresh from The Slamdance Festival. The charming lo-fi indie Lord of the Flies story, about a group of girls who move to the woods and start a new society, will make its East Coast debut at BUFF. Fantastic Fest winner for Best Director Eskil Vogt’s The Innocents, about children hiding their telekinetic abilities from their parents, premieres for the first time in New England. And the winner of Best Director at Stiges, Anita Rocha da Silveira’s subversive take on right-wing violence and religious hypocrisy through oppressive feminine tableaus, Medusa, has its New England premiere.

Two films from genre provocateur Gaspar Noé will be on display at the Boston Underground Film Festival. Lux Æterna offers an essay on cinema as two actresses, Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg, tell stories about witches while technical problems plague the movie set their filming on. The film earned Noé a Queer Palm nomination at Cannes but, Vortex, his multiple award-winning film currently has a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been heralded as “Merciless but affecting,” by Slant Magazine’s Pat Brown. Vortex stars legendary horror director Dario Argento as one half of a dementia-stricken elderly couple sharing their final days together in their apartment.

A split screen shows a woman in a green hue covering her eyes on the left and a woman in red hues on the right wrapping her arms around a stake in Lux Æterna
Image from Lux Æterna courtesy of Boston Underground Film Festival

And that’s just the tip of this impressively dense iceberg. Rounding out the festival are Addison Heimann’s Hypochondriac, the story of a hypochondriac exhibiting inexplicable symptoms when his mentally unstable mother shows up; Justin Kurzel’s Nitram, a tale of nihilism and violence which is based on a true story; co-directors Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman’s Afrofuturist musical Neptune Frost, and documentary Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.

BUFF will also have its plentiful serving of short films on hand and two special feature presentations. The 2K restoration of ’80s monster-mutant cockroach creature feature, The Nest, courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive and a 40th-anniversary showing of Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH.

Full badges are on sale now for the March 23 – 27 festival. Individual event tickets for the festival go on sale on March 10 available through both the Boston Underground Film Festival website and The Brattle Theatre’s website. Living near the city and a repeat visitor of this festival, I can tell you The Brattle is one of the coolest theaters to see a movie in. It’s a classic cinema with a charm you rarely see anymore. Beyond that, the BUFF program is always top-notch, but this year’s lineup is tremendously exciting. If you’re interested in any of these films, you won’t get an experience like this anywhere else.

A man sits in front of a wall full of monitors with blue screens in Neptune Frost
Image from Neptune Frost courtesy of Boston Underground Film Festival and Swan Films | Photo Credit: Chris Schwagga

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Written by Sean Parker

Sean lives just outside of Boston and loves all things horror.

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