Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

IFFBoston Fall Focus brings some of the year’s buzziest films to Boston

“Eileen,” the Fall Focus series’ opening film / Courtesy Jeong Park

Independent Film Festival Boston is hosting its Fall Focus series from Oct. 19 to 23 at The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

Since the main IFFBoston festival is held in the spring, it misses a lot of movies coming out during the summer festival months. Thus, the Fall Focus program allows Boston filmgoers—especially college students—to catch some of the year’s most anticipated films on the big screen.

Emerson alum Brian Tamm ‘93 is IFFBoston’s Executive Director. He curated the year’s Fall Focus selection to represent the cinematic zeitgeist of 2023.

“We want to show distributed films coming out that we think are going to get awards buzz, be on top ten lists, or be part of the cultural conversation,” Tamm said in an interview with the Beacon.

The Fall Focus program showcases film’s from some of the world’s biggest festivals. It began with a free screening of Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” a courtroom drama that won the coveted Palme d’Or—the highest award given at Cannes Film Festival.

Other Cannes debuts are represented in the lineup. Aki Kaurismäki’s “Fallen Leaves,” a tragicomedy about two lonely people who try to make a relationship work after meeting by chance, won the Jury Prize at Cannes.

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Monster,” which won Best Screenplay at Cannes, is about a child who starts acting strangely, his concerned mother, and the teacher supposedly at fault—told in a web of their three contrasting perspectives. Kore-eda, who has directed 11 movies in 15 years, has long been a staple of the IFFBoston repertory.

“One of our centerpieces every year is to show the new Kore-eda film,” Tamm said. “He’s a filmmaker whose films we’ve been showing since ‘Still Walking.’ It’s been an opportunity for us to expose people to his work.”

Trân Anh Hùng’s “The Taste of Things,” a historical romantic drama about a chef who communicates his love for his employer via cooking, won Best Director at Cannes. The film is also being submitted to the Academy Awards as France’s entry for the Best International Feature award.

The series includes other competitors for that very Oscars category: Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days,” in which characters find meaning against the backdrop of Tokyo’s toilet cleaning industry, will be Japan’s entry; Lila Avilés’ “Totem,” which takes place over a single day as a family prepares a ritual of loss, will be Mexico’s entry.

The Fall Focus program even includes one of the biggest names in the literary world—”Eileen,” adapted from celebrity author Ottessa Moshfegh’s debut novel, tells the story of a lonely prison staffer who gets sucked into the world of a magnetic new coworker.

Closing the series on Oct. 23 is “The Boy and the Heron,” the triumphant return of Hayao Miyazaki after ten years and a supposed retirement. The movie begins with some of the legendary filmmaker’s favorite themes—the countryside, planes, World War II—until the main character meets a gray heron and enters a fantasy world of animated delights.

The Fall Focus series has been growing ever since its inception seven years ago, and one day, it may even become a full-fledged festival series in its own right, making IFFBoston a biannual occurrence.

“We teamed up with The Brattle to put together a mini-festival where we could curate some of the best films coming out,” Tamm said. “When the Fall Focus series first started, it was five films over five days—now we’re showing 12.”

For 20 years, IFFBoston has collaborated with independent cinemas like The Brattle, the Coolidge, and Somerville Theatre to facilitate and grow Boston’s film scene. The seasonal timing of the series is intentional—in a college town like Boston, making sure students have opportunities to get involved with the local film scene keeps it alight.

“Outside of New York and LA, Boston is probably the best repertory film community,” Tamm said. “There’s a lot of great film stuff happening here, and I would encourage students to come and be part of it.”

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About the Contributor
Ryan Yau
Ryan Yau, Living Arts Co-Editor
Ryan Yau (he/him) is a first-year journalism major from Hong Kong. He writes and edits for the Living Arts section, normally feature stories on artists and arts events in Boston, usually film-related. Occasionally he has an opinion. He recreationally play saxophone.

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