By Angelica Coleman
Every year since 2012, underground film takes over a historic cinema house tucked away in Cambridge for a wild week of bizarre movie screenings. The annual Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF) was held last week at the Brattle Theatre, and fans came out in droves to see what program directors Kevin Monahan and Nicole McControversy had in store.
The festival certainly delivered on expertly curated, avant-garde filmography, pooling films released in last few years while also premiering some works for the first time. The features where often accompanied by short film screenings, offering viewers the chance to see more than one type of film with a single ticket.
Additionally, filmmakers from several chosen works attended the festival, and held Q-and-As after their showings. Their presence really enhanced the festival experience for individuals interested in the process of independent movie-making. In addition to the screenings, some technical workshops and networking parties were offered throughout the week in order to better connect the creative community with amateur filmmakers and enthusiastic viewers.
The festival had an awards element as well, in which audience members received ballots with their ticket and were compelled to rank the films on a scale of 1-5.
Based on these rankings, awards were given for categories such as ‘Best Feature’ and ‘Best Short.’ Directors of featured films voted for awards in separate categories.
Underground film is not a specifically defined genre, and it can incorporate different styles of independent films. However, the BUFF festival does curate a specific type of film, best described as quirky, grotesque horror movies and thrillers. The horror lexicon is strong within this community, as references to iconic cinematic horror moments are made frequently within the films and by festival goers. BUFF contributors know the genre and they use their knowledge well, in so that the environment feels less like a festival and more like a way of life.
This festival should be on the radar of anyone who appreciates the art of film, because the movies featured are consistently well made and technically complex. One of the films premiered at this festival, “The Void”, stands out for it’s remarkable production design that could rival any studio-backed film.
BUFF is crowd-funded, just as many film festivals are, so we do have the power as consumers to promote and expand this type of filmmaking. I encourage film enthusiasts to seek out and support independent festivals such as this one, where awe-inspiring talent still resides, outside the grasp of Hollywood corporate monotony.