For all the noise you hear about the occasional A Quiet Place 2 or Marshall being filmed in Buffalo, there’s a lot more professional film production going on here than you’re likely aware of. The proof of that will be in screen next weekend as the 13th edition of the Buffalo International Film Festival presents no fewer than seven feature films that were made here, in whole or part.
The festival’s showcase spot (as of this writing tickets are nearly sold out) goes to The True Adventures of Wolfboy (Saturday 7:15pm, North Park Theater), a contemporary fantasy story. Jaeden Martell, who starred in It! and co-starred with Bill Murray in St. Vincent, plays a 13-year-old boy with a medical condition that causes his body and face to be covered in hair. Leaving home to find the mother he has never known, he journeys through a carnival world with urban versions of fairy tale characters. Naming it one of the top films at the recent Fantastic Fest in Austin, RogerEbert.com calls it “daring, delightful … a sensational and inspiring coming-of-age story for any kid who has ever felt like a freak.” The cast also includes Chloë Sevigny, John Turturro, Chris Messina and Stephen McKinley Henderson.
Local audiences will get a laugh out of the sight of the Shea’s Buffalo marquee in the police drama Crown Vic, in which the Queen City stands in for Los Angeles. That moment of obviousness aside (and would a filmgoer in any other part of the world know that LA doesn’t have a theater called the Buffalo?), it’s a good enough feat of imposture for a movie that emphasizes the grimier parts of an urban police beat. Thomas Jane stars as a veteran cop who has spent two decades looking at the nighttime city through the windshield of his patrol car, on a night when he is breaking in a wide-eyed rookie (Luke Kleintank). I saw a preview of the movie, and while it may take a somewhat Dirty Harry-ish view of cops, it’s gritty and fast-moving, with Jane chewing up the scenery as a grizzled cop whose empathy for crime victims is revealed in surprising ways. It closes the festival on Monday night (7 pm, North Park).
In between are two other more light-hearted crime dramas. Clover (Saturday 9:45 pm, North Park) stars Jon Abrahams (who also directed) and Mark Webber as a pair of bumbling brothers whose problems paying off a debt to crime boss Chazz Palminteri are exacerbated when they find themselves protecting a teenaged girl (Nicole Elizabeth Berger) who has witnessed a murder. With Erika Christensen and Ron Perlman. Zoey Deutch stars in Buffaloed as a South Buffalo hustler who gets involved in the nastier sides of the debt collection industry. With Jai Courtney, Judy Greer and Jermaine Fowler. (Sunday 7 pm, North Park)
If you know any sports fans (in Buffalo? I’ve heard there are some), you can take them to either of two documentaries that won’t interfere with their Sunday game viewing. The Fan Connection (Saturday 1:15 pm, North Park) looks at multiple generations of Buffalo Sabres fans. A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem (Friday 7:30, North Park) uses the former Buffalo Jills as a jumping off point to explore the issue of fair wages and workplace equality for NFL cheerleaders.
Another documentary, JJ Lankes: Yankee Printmaker in Virginia (Friday 7pm at the Burchfield Penney) will introduce you to the Buffalo native and woodcut printmaker who worked as a social advocate in the South during the period between World War I and II. Free admission.
Local interest aside, BIFF will offer plenty other worthwhile viewing, with more than 120 features, shorts and webisodes from 23 countries (many with filmmakers in attendance). Individual tickets are available, but by far the best deal is the all-access pass, which for $44.99 gets you into everything from the opening night party on Thursday to the last screening on Monday night. Films will be shown at the North Park, Hallwalls, Squeaky Wheel and the Burchfield Penny Gallery. For more information, visit buffalofilm.org.