FESTIVALS

Loren Miller

BUFF IS BACK!

MARCH 22 – 27 IN HARVARD SQUARE


Top: BUFF poster designed by Michael Durwin.

Bottom: IN THE TRADITION OF MY FAMILY, a film by Todd
Davis. Photo by Austin DeBesche.

Eight years strong, the Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF) is back and ready to unleash subterranean cinema at its best upon the unsuspecting Hub. Founded in 1999 by veteran curator David Kleiler, BUFF is an outgrowth of an all-nighter film series that had its humble beginnings at the now-defunct Revolving Museum on the waterfront in Boston, MA. During its lifespan, BUFF has expanded and contracted, roved and rambled through the city. Now settled at the historic Brattle Theatre, BUFF is set to invade Harvard Square with two other screening venues in walking distance of the Brattle for a five-day run beginning March 22nd. The ensuing madness will be the most ambitious and aggressive festival in BUFF’s history. That’s a promise. Proceed with caution.

The films in our meticulously curated shorts programs are largely selected from over 500 submissions ranging from the absurd to the inflammatory. In what has become typical BUFF tradition, “Bizarre & Insane” will kick off the festival featuring the New England premieres of the stop-copy animated video for New York band The Sad Little Stars’ DON’T FUCK WITH LOVE, and Edouard Salier’s controversial, simultaneous attack on Western superficiality and Middle-Eastern fanaticism, FLESH. A KIND OF SCREAMING from BU grad Kyle Graffam will also be featured. And in a deviation from BUFF tradition, opening night will also see a feature-length film in Ann Marie Fleming’s extremely dark comedy THE FRENCH GUY. Fleming, who by the way has had more films featured in the Toronto International Film Festival than any other filmmaker, will be on hand to introduce the film and give a Q&A afterward. After THE FRENCH GUY, head over to Hoffa’s Swiss Alps at 114 Mt. Auburn Street, Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA for the opening night reception, featuring a live performance from The Sad Little Stars, hosted by IMAGINE Magazine.

Thursday evening doesn’t take a rest from the high-profile events with a visit from acclaimed animator, and longtime friend of BUFF, Bill Plympton. Plympton will host a screening of naughty work titled “Bill’s Dirty Shorts.” Stick around and join the freaks for MODIFY, an intense documentary focusing on extreme body modifications with directors Jason Gary and Greg Jacobson in attendance. MODIFY is co-presented by StingRay Body Art in Allston, Inked Magazine and the Fetish Flea Market. A reception will follow at Hoffa’s Swiss Alps.

Top: Lloyd Kaufman, president and co-founder of Troma Entertainment. Kaufman will present a reduced version of his filmmaking seminar entitled “Make Your Own Damn Movie!” Photo courtesy of BUFF.

Bottom: THE FRENCH GUY, a film by Ann Marie Flemming. Photo by C. Kim Miles.



Friday night will see the New England premieres of the erotic thrillers PSYCHPATHIA SEXUALIS and NIGHTMARE. Filmmakers are expected for both features. Boston’s own Warren Lynch will also be around Friday for an encore screening of his cult favorite PONY TROUBLE! BUFF curated short programs “Surreal Reels” and “Highly Animated” will feature the best in experimental and animated shorts, respectively, while “Distressed Management” is certain to send chills down your spine and provoke a laugh in only those with the sickest sense of humor. “Distress Management” also features the New England premiere of Sam Walker’s TEA BREAK and the US premiere of UK animator Robert Morgan’s first live action short MONSTERS. Continuing our commitment to New England filmmakers, each short program will feature one or more locally produced short.

Saturday starts off with the feature film THE BARN. Made by two Maine natives, but produced in the UK, THE BARN is an absurdist piece in the style of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. The highlight of Saturday is no-doubt, a visit from president and co-founder of Troma Entertainment, Lloyd Kaufman. Kaufman will present a stripped down, two-and-a-half hour version of his filmmaking seminar entitled “Make Your Own Damn Movie!” Master Class attendees will receive a discount for the 10th anniversary, midnight screening of Kaufman’s 1996 masterpiece, TROMEO & JULIET. Saturday also brings the US premiere of the hallucinatory Canadian thriller HORSIE’S RETREAT and the New England premiere of balls-out horror film NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH. Both filmmakers will be in attendance.

For those unable or unwilling to venture across the river to Cambridge, the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline will be hosting repeat midnight screenings of MODIFY (Friday) and “Bizarre & Insane” shorts program (Saturday). 

If things haven’t been crazy enough for you, closing day Sunday pulls out all the stops with the North American premieres of the dazzling documentaries RIOT-ON! (about the rise and fall of Finnish software developer, Riot Entertainment) and JABE BABE: A HEIGHTENED LIFE (about an Australian dominatrix with Marfan’s Syndrome) and the unrelenting thriller MARCUS (with filmmakers in attendance). Crazy turns into full on lunacy with local enfant terrible Corey Smithson’s filthy opus HUMOURESQUE and the 2002 film that has since become a cult classic, REFLECTIONS OF EVIL (keep your Thorazine on hand for this one). For the truly hardcore documentary junkies, the extremely graphic ORLAN: CARNAL ART, about French performance artist ORLAN, is both enthralling and unwatchable. Shorts programs on Sunday include SILENT SCREAMS, featuring the 47-minute adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s beloved THE CALL OF CTHULHU (partially shot in Providence!), “Staring Into the Abyss” featuring the resoundingly acclaimed FIELDS OF MUDAN, and “Winnipeg Gothique” curated by Dave Barber of the Winnipeg Cinemateque. 

JABE BABE:A HEIGHTENED LIFE, a film by Janet Merewether. Photo by Jackie Farkas.

Other local films include Todd Davis’ award winning IN THE TRADITION OF MY FAMILY (“Staring Into the Abyss”), David Young’s HITCHCOCKED (with Marcus) and Jacob Ransom’s THE WORKING STIFF (“Distress Management”). The ubiquitous Bacchus awards, the vibrating bunny trophies that have been a staple since BUFF’s second year, will be presented during a ceremony at Daedalus Restaurant and Bar Sunday night at 11pm. Awards will be given in the categories of Best of Fest (feature and short), Best Animation, Best Experimental, Best Documentary, Most Promising 
New England Filmmaker and Most Effectively Offensive. Festival jurors include Weekly Dig Arts Editor David Wildman, programmer/associate director for the Northampton Independent Film Festival Kate Stefaniak, and filmmakers Carey Burtt (THE PSYCHOTIC ODYSSEY OF RICHARD CHASE) and Caleb Emerson (DIE YOU ZOMBIE BASTARDS!).

The 2006 BUFF is sponsored by Boston’s Weekly Dig, Comcast, Saint Aire Productions and Irving House. Other major sponsors include Newbury Comics, The Canadian Consulate General of 
Boston, Boloco and the Center for Digital Imaging Arts.

The man who started it all is extremely optimistic about the latest BUFF prospects. “I have every reason to believe that BUFF 8 will be the most successful BUFF yet.” Says festival founder David Kleiler. “The program is excellent. The interactivity with filmmakers is greater than it’s ever been. I’m looking forward to it.”

BUFF breaks loose 3/22/06. Be ready.


Kevin Monahan is the Program Director for the Boston Underground Film Festival.