New England cinephiles, rejoice! Spring festival season kicks off in a few short weeks as the 22nd annual Boston Underground Film Festival returns to Harvard Square, bringing with it five days of sublime cinervana to the Brattle Theatre from March 23rd through the 27th. This year’s program marks BUFF’s first physical festival since 2019 and promises a cinematic feast full of fierce folk horror, nordic nightmares, killer cockroaches, terrifying girl cults, psychological thrillers, and telekinetic chillers: All killer, no filler for the Northeast’s genre cinephiles.
Fresh off its world premiere at Sundance, BUFF is honoured to host the New England Premiere of Goran Stolevski’s haunting 19th-century Macedonian folk horror tale, You Won’t Be Alone, which sets a contemplative tone for the festival’s 22nd year with a dark meditation on what it means to be human through the eyes of a curious, cursed witch played, in part, by Noomi Rapace.
Casting a spotlight on Nordic genre cinema, BUFF is thrilled to host dual New England Premieres of Eskil Vogt’s electrifying fairytale The Innocents and Hanna Bergholm’s chilling feature debut, Hatching, which caps off the festival’s five day deep dive into curious and cruel revelations about the human condition.
The human psyche-excavation continues with a double-dose of Gaspar Noé, starting with the New England Premiere of his absolutely devastating Vortex, featuring an astonishing performance from the maestro, Dario Argento, in an unflinching, sobering chronicle of an ailing and ageing couple during their final days. When midnight strikes, gears shift to Noé’s sensory-shattering tale of witches and weirdness on a film shoot in the New England Premiere of Lux Æterna, starring Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Themes of isolation and frustration are further explored in Justin Kurzel’s staggering and eviscerating Nitram, which follows the life of a disturbed Australian man in the mid-80s who commits heinous acts that culminate in unthinkable tragedy. Caleb Landry Jones leads in this gripping portrait of nihilism and violence. Taking the exploration of violence and mental illness in a different direction, BUFF is proud to host the fresh-out-of-SXSW East Coast Premiere of Addison Heimann’s nightmarish debut Hypochondriac, which follows a Hispanic gay potter who has kept his dark past at bay until the day his bipolar mother re-enters his life as a series of inexplicable physical symptoms begin to manifest in his body.
Paranoia runs rampant through BUFF alum Chloe Okuno’s exquisite feature debut thriller, Watcher, which follows an isolated young American actress, newly relocated to Romania with her husband, who increasingly suspects that her neighbor is a serial killer. The powers of paranoia wreak havoc on a clique of pious Christian young women who take punitive action against the sinners in their midst in Brazilian filmmaker Anita Rocha da Silveira’s cult-classic-in-the-making Medusa, while a group of teen girls search for serenity in self-governance only to find fleeting freedom in Avalon Fast’s psychedelically sublime Honeycomb.
Lovers of weird world cinema take note: BUFF is bringing you the New England Premiere of the Afrofuturist/cyberpunk/Afropunk sci-fi musical of your dreams, Neptune Frost, written and co-directed by musician and poet Saul Williams and Rwandan playright and actress Anisia Uzeyman. This celestial, anti-capitalist, Black queer love story is unlike any film you’ve ever seen and demands and deserves your full attention. Rounding out BUFF’s music strand is the New England Premiere of Philipp Virus’ documentary crash-course on the sprawling history of semi-local legends and grunge gods Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr., as told by the band and their peers.
BUFF is beyond stoked to bring you the East Coast Premiere of the new restoration of 1987’s gross-out spectacular The Nest, which finds a New England town overrun by a cockroach experiment gone awry. And, for the first time ever, BUFF is expanding its kid-friendly fare with a special noon screening of The Secret of NIMH, in honor of this formative children’s masterwork on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.
We’ll also have our usual veritable bounty of shorts programming, co-presented this year by Final Draft (who will give all selected filmmakers a complimentary copy of Final Draft 12), celebrating the finest animation, transgressive horror, comedy, homegrown horror, genre-inspired music videos, plus a special screening showcasing local talent from the Weird Local Film Fest. BUFF would also like to thank additional sponsors at Utopia and BudgetDCP for their support.
A limited number of festival badges are available for purchase on the Brattle Theatre’s site.
BOSTON UNDERGROUND 2022:
FREAKSCENE: THE STORY OF DINOSAUR JR. – New England Premiere
Philipp Virus | USA, Germany | 2021
A documentary and homage of one of the most influential bands on the American East Coast, which inspired the rock scene — including Nirvana and Sonic Youth — in the 1990s.
HATCHING – New England Premiere
Hanna Bergholm | Finland | 2022
12-year-old Tinja is desperate to please her mother, a woman obsessed with presenting the image of a perfect family. One night, Tinja finds a strange egg. What hatches is beyond belief.
HONEYCOMB – East Coast Premiere
Avalon Fast | USA | 2022
Five girls stray from society and take over an abandoned cabin. As they develop a set of self-governing rules, things begin to unravel in this horrific psychedelic coming-of-age debut from 21-year-old director Avalon Fast.
HYPOCHONDRIAC – East Coast Premiere
Addison Heimann | USA | 2022
A talented gay potter’s world devolves into chaos when he begins exhibiting unexplainable symptoms right as his mentally unstable mother reenters his life
LUX ÆTERNA – New England Premiere
Gaspar Noé | France | 2019
Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg tell stories about witches while on a film set as technical problems and psychotic outbreaks gradually plunge the shoot into chaos.
MEDUSA – New England Premiere
Anita Rocha da Silveira | Brazil | 2021
A gang of young women in Brazil try to control everything around them, including other women, by roaming the streets and beating up those they deem too sinful.
NEPTUNE FROST – New England Premiere
Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman | USA, Rwanda | 2021
An intersex African hacker, a coltan miner and the virtual marvel born as a result of their union in this stunning Afrofuturist musical.
NITRAM – East Coast Premiere
Justin Kurzel | Australia | 2021
Based on a true story, Nitram is an isolated young man living with his parents in Australia until he meets an eccentric heiress. What follows is a gripping portrait of nihilism and violence.
THE INNOCENTS – New England Premiere
Eskil Vogt | Norway | 2021
During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal mysterious powers. But what starts out innocent soon takes a dark and violent turn in this gripping supernatural thriller.
THE NEST – East Coast Premiere 2K Restoration
Terence H. Winkless | USA | 1982
A scientist, a sheriff, an exterminator and an island mayor’s daughter hunt mutant cockroaches in New England. Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive.
THE SECRET OF NIMH – 40th Anniversary
Don Bluth | USA | 1982
To save her ill son, a field mouse must seek the aid of a colony of rats, with whom she has a deeper link than she ever suspected.
VORTEX – New England Premiere
Gaspar Noé | France, Belgium | 2021
A retired psychiatrist with dementia and a struggling author with a heart condition live their final days together in an apartment.
WATCHER – East Coast Premiere
Chloe Okuno | USA | 2022
A young woman moves into a new apartment with her fiancé only to be tormented by the feeling that she is being stalked by an unseen watcher in an adjacent building.
YOU WON’T BE ALONE – New England Premiere
Goran Stolevski | Australia, UK, Serbia | 2022
In an isolated mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, a young girl is kidnapped and transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit. Curious about life as a human, the young witch accidentally kills a peasant in the nearby village and then takes her victim’s shape to live life in her skin. Her curiosity ignited, she continues to wield this horrific power in order to understand what it means to be human