In 2016, the Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF) gave local audiences their first chance to see unique films like the documentary “Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present” and the stunning, animated documentary “Tower."
With venues located exclusively in the City of Buffalo, BIFF demonstrated that even with fiction and nonfiction entries from around the world, the Queen City plays an essential role.
The 2017 festival, running from Oct. 6 to 9, showcases a roster of films that’s longer than ever before — 112 movies from 25 countries — and features events beyond screenings.
These include a panel discussion of poetry and the moving image (11:30 a.m. Oct. 7 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.) and a round-table discussion with members of the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development (noon Oct. 7 at Revolution Gallery, 1419 Hertel Ave.)
The Women in Film Panel, which began in 2015, returns at 3 p.m. Oct. 7 at Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center (617 Main St.), with a discussion and question and answer with noteworthy female filmmakers.
Interim Executive Director John J. Fink said visiting filmmakers have raved about the festival’s use of locations in and around Buffalo, including screening venues like the North Park Theatre, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center.
“We’re a citywide production requiring visitors to interact with and get to know various corners and neighborhoods of the city,” Fink says. “Many have come to love Buffalo.”
What is also appealing to filmmakers, and audiences, is the obvious care that goes into choosing a lineup.
“For cinephiles, we offer an opportunity to see work in a variety of unique venues while it is on the film circuit and before its VOD release,” Fink says. “Many of our titles rarely screen theatrically in the region.”
Perhaps this year’s most exciting screening is the local premiere of “Marshall,” the Thurgood Marshall biopic that was shot throughout Buffalo. One of the major releases of the fall, it stars Chadwick Boseman, Kate Hudson, and Josh Gad.
Festival Director Tilke Hill said the “Marshall” screening is a BIFF high point, especially “knowing how engaged, excited and instrumental our region was in the film’s creation.” The screening, presented by WNED in association with BIFF, is at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at the North Park Theatre.
Other highlights include:
• “Mermaids,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at North Park. Fink said Ali Weinstein’s documentary about mermaid culture is one of this year’s standouts. Weinstein will be in attendance to discuss the film, which premiered earlier this year at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival.
• “Prodigy,” 9:15 p.m. Oct. 6 at Hallwalls. Sci-fi film about a battle of wits between a psychologist and a dangerous young girl.
• “Endless Poetry,” 5:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Burchfield Penney. The latest film from “El Topo” director Alejandro Jodorowsky. An autobiographical continuation of the director’s last effort, “The Dance of Reality,” it is the festival’s first Masters Centerpiece.
• “Woman on Fire,” 12:45 p.m. Oct. 7 at the North Park. Director Julie Sokolow’s documentary tells the story of Brooke Guian, the New York Fire Department’s first transgender firefighter.
• “Infinity Baby,” 11 p.m. Oct. 7 at the North Park. Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Stephen Root star in this comedy that premiered at South by Southwest.
• “Sundown,” 2:15 p.m. Oct. 9 at Hallwalls. Director Brendan Boogie will be in attendance for a screening of his comedy about a man and his dementia-addled father.
• “After the Sun Fell,” 1:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at the North Park. This drama directed by Tony Glazer and shot in Lewiston stars Danny Pudi ("Community").
• “The Cinema Travelers,” noon Oct. 9 at the North Park. The first selection in BIFF’s Ed Summer Film History Showcase, named after the festival’s late founder, is an award-winning documentary about traveling cinema exhibitors in India.
• “Crash Pad,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at the North Park: BIFF’s closing night spotlight selection is the directorial debut from Kevin Tent, a Western New York native and director Alexander Payne’s longtime editor. Domhnall Gleeson, Thomas Haden Church and Christina Applegate star in this comedy about the affair between a hopeless romantic and a married woman.
Buffalo International Film Festival
Oct. 6-9 at various locations. Tickets are $6 to $12; an all-access Bison pass is $39.99. For full schedule, visit buffalofilm.org.