A Guide to the Boston Independent Film Festival

By Christine Bartsch; Updated June 08, 2017

IFFBoston: The art of seeing

A Guide to the Boston Independent Film Festival

Go beyond the standard studio fare offered at local theaters to find undiscovered cinematic gems at the Boston Independent Film Festival – a showcase for multicultural films from around the world. Movie buffs attending this five-day event can take their pick from more than 90 feature films, short films and documentaries. Load up on festival info and give some thought to your festival approach before grabbing popcorn and settling in for the shows.

Where and When

Held annually in mid-April, the BostonIFF screens films at three major theaters located across from the Boston Common near the heart of the city. With 19 screens and stadium seating, the AMC/Loews Boston Common 19 is the hub of the festival. Along with traditional movie concessions, this venue also features a bar that serves beer, wine and cocktails to enjoy during the show. Just be prepared for long lines during the festival.

The festival’s second venue is the Paramount, just a three-minute walk around the corner from AMC/Loews. One of the first movie theaters in Boston, the Paramount has now been restored and transformed into a performing arts center for Emerson College. BPE Studio, the festival’s third and coziest venue, is located about a six-minute walk from AMC/Loews. When not hosting festival screenings, BPE Studio is an active production company that works to distribute the festival’s catalog and library.

Ticket talk

BostonIFF has an array of ticket options for the festival, from all-access passes to individual tickets. For a few hundred dollars, the all-access pass allows entrance not just to screenings of every film showing at the festival, but to exclusive parties where you’ll rub elbows with actors and filmmakers. For just under a hundred dollars, purchase a pass that skips parties and meet-and-greets, but opens the door to every screening. Enjoy a taste of a Hollywood party without paying for the all-access pass by purchasing a separate ticket to attend the opening or closing screening that also includes a ticket to the festival gala. Just don’t expect to receive paper tickets in the mail; the festival checks attendees in at the door with an official guest list.

Attend the fest like a pro

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of movies showing – especially on a first trip to the festival. Hone in on screening preferences by reading through the descriptions in the festival guide before attending or shortly after arriving. Mark all must-see movies as a reminder to arrive well in advance of showtimes to ensure snaring a seat. Film festivals are fluid events, so have back-up film selections for each slot in case a first pick is full or canceled.

Burnout is common when watching endless hours of movies on an all-access pass, so plan to skip a few films to make room for meals and discussion of features already seen. Also, note that it’s good form to stay through the credits at indie festivals to show appreciation of the filmmakers who likely produced their films without major studio backing. During and after the credits, actors and filmmakers are often on hand for a Q&A. Just keep an eye on the time so the next screening isn't missed.

About the Author

Christine Bartsch