Allston-based filmmaker Andrew Gibson saw Eliza Hittman’s “Beach Rats” at the Independent Film Festival Boston in 2017 while he was prepping his first feature, “Gutterbug.” “I thought, ‘That’s the kind of movie I want to show here,’ ” he recalls in a telephone interview.
“Gutterbug” premiered at the 2019 IFFB and sold out two screenings. “It gave me a boost,” says Gibson, who’d spent 2018 editing the film, with Tim Kane. Last month, “Gutterbug” won the Grand Jury Prize at the 22nd annual Dances With Films, in Hollywood. It now screens at the 28th annual Woods Hole Film Festival, running July 27-Aug. 3 at venues in Woods Hole and Falmouth, with Gibson and members of the cast and crew in attendance for the Aug. 1, 9 p.m., screening, at Redfield Auditorium.
That’s not a bad start for a scrappy indie about street punks shot almost entirely in Allston, where Gibson has lived for the last five years (a few scenes were shot in Tewksbury, Swampscott, and Brockton).
“Gutterbug” is about Stephen “Bug” Bugsby (Andrew Yackel), a crust punk who returns home on his 21st birthday and, with his band of misfits, grapples with the realities of homelessness, depression, drug use, and toxic friendships.
Allston was a key component to Gibson’s vision for the film. “I was inspired by [Allston’s] rock ’n’ roll vibe; the basement shows, the graffiti, the visual element of it,” he says. He was drawn to the homeless punks he saw “hanging out in front of liquor stores and coffee shops, begging for change.” He started writing a short story that imagined the life of a fictional crust punk. Chris Tobin, who’s been making short videos with Gibson since both were students at the University of New Hampshire, took Gibson’s story and turned it into a screenplay that drew on favorite DIY movies such as “Slackers,” “Clerks,” and “Gummo,” but with an Allston vibe.
Gibson made use of many Allston locales, from the Black Lodge music club to the footbridge over the Massachusetts Turnpike. As a newbie director, Gibson was apprehensive at first, he says, but took comfort from another DIY movie, Tommy Wiseau’s infamous “The Room.”
“I thought, even if it’s bad, it still might be something unique,” he says. “That kept me calm.”
“Gutterbug” will be in good company at the WHFF, since the festival’s focus is on emerging independent filmmakers. More than half of the festivals’s 163 films (53 features, both scripted and documentary, and 110 shorts) come from first-time directors.
Screening on opening day is “Guest Artist” (July 27, 9 p.m., Redfield Auditorium), directed by Timothy Busfield. It stars fellow Michigan native Jeff Daniels, who wrote the script, based on his own play. Daniels plays a once-famous, now-bitter playwright who arrives in a small Michigan town to mount his latest drama.
“Alaska Is a Drag” (July 28, 8 p.m., Old Woods Hole Fire Station) is director Shaz Bennett’s coming-of-age story about a young boxer working in an Alaskan fish cannery whose life changes when he enters a drag competition.
“Greener Grass” (July 30, 6:45 p.m., Renfield Auditorium) is the feature debut from director Jocelyn DeBoer and co-writer Dawn Luebbe. They made a short of the same title in 2015. It stars current and former “Saturday Night Live” cast members in a satire about suburban envy.
Richard Levien’s award-winning 2009 short, “Immersion,” is about a young boy from Mexico who struggles to fit in at his new US school. Levien’s debut feature, “Collisions” (July 31, 5:30 p.m., Old Woods Hole Fire Station) centers on a 12-year-old whose life is upended when she comes home from school to find her apartment ransacked and her mother taken away by immigration police.
A giant leap for moviekind
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis will play a live score for “Woman in the Moon” (1929), German filmmaker Fritz Lang’s sci-fi fantasy adventure about mankind’s first space mission. The screening takes place at Arlington’s Regent Theatre July 24, at 7 p.m. Lang’s rarely shown, 2½-hour film has been called the first feature to depict realistic space travel as it follows an intrepid band of astronauts as they attempt to reach the lunar surface, where they hope to find gold. One of the last German silents, it was a box office flop for Lang, who two years earlier released the groundbreaking sci-fi epic “Metropolis.” Lang brought to “Woman in the Moon” the same ambitions to expand the visual and storytelling capabilities of cinema.
The Harvard Film Archive will screen “Woman in the Moon” next month, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. That screening will also have live musical accompaniment, from pianist Robert Humphreville.
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