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Two Boston film festivals to check out before the month is over

At the MFA, the Boston Women’s Film Festival Fall Showcase highlights women directors and cinematographers. And the 38th annual Boston Film Festival features a selection of in-person and virtual screenings, opening with Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’

Gracija Filipović in "Murina."Courtesy of the Boston Women's Film Festival

The Boston Women’s Film Festival Fall Showcase will highlight four woman-directed films from around the world Sept. 23-25.

Three of the four screenings will be Boston premieres. “Piggy,” a Spanish horror film directed by Carlota Pereda, follows a teenager in rural Spain who discovers a secret about the three girls who’ve been bullying her.

“Clara Sola,” directed by Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, is a magical-realism-tinged film about a 40-year-old woman in a remote Costa Rican village seeking to liberate herself from a repressive religious family.

“Murina,” directed by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, is a suspenseful, coming-of-age drama that tells the story of a young woman on Croatia’s Adriatic coast who dives for eel with her father but yearns to leave her island behind.


Anamaria Vartolomei and Sandrine Bonnaire in “Happening.”Courtesy of the Boston Women's Film Festival

The fall showcase will also include director Audrey Diwan’s film “Happening,” about a college student seeking an abortion in 1960s France. “I think it’s really important that as many people see it as possible,” said festival Director of Programming Katherine Irving, who notes that “being right there with the protagonist, in these tight close-ups as she’s dealing with the threat of her crumbling future, I think could be a really powerful experience.”

The Boston Women’s Film Festival started in 2018.

“We noticed a hole in the cultural landscape of Boston and wanted to lift up women’s stories and women in the industry,” Irving said.

The festival began as a series of feature-length screenings at the Brattle Theatre and the MFA. Its main event, planned for March 2023, has grown to include a short film competition that draws hundreds of submissions and many young filmmakers, said festival Executive Director Jo-Ann Graziano.

While this year’s fall showcase doesn’t include any short films, Irving has had younger filmmakers in mind while selecting films. “I like the idea of making international cinema accessible to Americans who might find it a little bit daunting,” she said.


Irving said she hopes that by highlighting award-winning women cinematographers like “Murina”’s Hélène Louvart, she can encourage women to consider careers on the more technical side of filmmaking.

Cinematography “is such a historically macho technical craft,” she said. “I think women on film sets are still struggling to feel at home with gear; we were raised to have a mental block, to think — it’s not for you.”

Graziano agreed that visual creativity is an important part of the festival’s selection criteria. “If [films] are not visually interesting, they don’t usually make the cut for us,” she said, adding that’s “probably one of the strengths of our festival: It’s all about cinematography and color.”

In addition to its fall showcase, the Boston Women’s Film Festival will screen a larger slate of films, host its annual short film competition, and present its cinematography award this upcoming March during Women’s History Month.

Boston Film Festival

Celebrating its 38th year, the annual Boston Film Festival will feature a selection of in-person and virtual screenings Sept. 22-26.

The festival will open with director Olivia Wilde’s buzzy thriller “Don’t Worry Darling,” which will screen in-person Sept. 22 at Regal Cinema in Fenway.

Olivia Wilde in a scene from "Don't Worry Darling." Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/Associated Press

The in-person portion of the festival will end with the Sept. 24 world premiere of “The Wind & the Reckoning,” a drama inspired by historical events about a leprosy outbreak in Hawaii and tensions between native Hawaiians and American government officials in the late 1800s. The film will screen at the festival’s closing night gala at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport; director David L. Cunningham and various cast members will be in attendance. Before the screening, delegates from Hawaii will be greeted by representatives of local tribes, including the Abenaki and Wampanoag.


The festival has also partnered with the Boston Public Library and the Rockport Music Shalin Liu Performance Center to screen three different documentaries for free. “Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West” is a documentary about the plight of wild horses in the US and will screen in Rockport on Sept. 23. “The Power of Activism” follows six female Australian environmental activists, and “The Temptation of Trees” examines the relationship between caring for forests and mitigating climate change. Both films will show Sept. 24 at the Boston Public Library.

Short and animated films selected by the festival’s screening committee will also be available for ticket-buyers to watch online during the duration of the festival. The Boston Film Festival’s screening committee includes a number of local college students, whose recommendations have at times made the difference in whether a film made the cut, said festival director Robin Dawson.

“The two things that drive me to do this film festival are the students and the reward of knowing that they are learning,” Dawson said, “and knowing that we’re going to help filmmakers get their creative vision seen.”



Sept. 23-25.


Sept. 22-26.

Joy Ashford can be reached at Follow them on Twitter @joy_ashford.