Two buzzy Sundance hits — “Luce’’ and “The Farewell’’ — will bookend this yr’s Independent Film Festival Boston (April 24-May 1), the lineup of which was launched Wednesday. Though every rode sturdy word-of-mouth out of Park City, Utah, once more in January, the variations between the opening and shutting night titles underscore IFFBoston’s signature dedication to unfold.
Opener “Luce,’’ directed by Julius Onah, is a taut social psychodrama; it follows two mom and father (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) whose view of their model-student son (Kelvin Harrison Jr., of “It Comes at Night’’), adopted from war-torn Eritrea, is challenged after a teacher (Octavia Spencer) uncovers his startling views on political violence. It performs the Somerville Theater April 24, with Onah available for a Q&A.
And whereas fest capper “The Farewell’’ (May 1, on the Coolidge) moreover examines how identification can downside familial bonds, it does so inside the kind of a mild, heartfelt dramedy. “Crazy Rich Asians’’ breakout Awkwafina stars as a Chinese-American girl who returns to China to make peace collectively along with her grandmother’s terminal most cancers prognosis. The twist is that her family has chosen to cowl the fact from Granny to be able to not spoil her remaining time, in its place staging a marriage ceremony ceremony beneath false pretenses so everyone can say their goodbyes collectively.
If it sounds outrageous, take into consideration that writer-director Lulu Wang (a Boston College grad) based “The Farewell’’ on her private experiences. If it sounds acquainted, you likely heard Wang deal with the stranger-than-fiction story on “This American Life.’’ She’ll converse after the screening.
Keira Knightley toplines IFFBoston’s narrative centerpiece “Official Secrets’’ (April 26, on the Somerville), “Eye throughout the Sky’’ director Gavin Hood’s true account of whistleblower Katharine Gun, who uncovered an illegal NSA spy operation to control the UN into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Doc centerpiece “WBCN and the American Revolution’’ (April 27, on the Somerville) is landmark native fare; it chronicles how Boston’s underground rock radio galvanized social, political, and cultural shifts all through the late 1960s and early ’70s. The director, Boston-bred Bill Lichtenstein, was 14 when he started at WBCN. He’ll converse after the screening.
High-profile helmers abound. One narrative highlight, “The Nightingale,’’ is “Babadook’’ director Jennifer Kent’s long-awaited follow-up to that chiller, a revenge odyssey set in 1820s Tasmania. Italian Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino’s “Loro’’ will show, as will Peter Strickland’s textile ghost story “In Fabric.’’
As commonplace, domestically grown actors and filmmakers are in advantageous variety this yr. Emerson grad Daniel Scheinert, who co-directed “Swiss Army Man,’’ is once more with a darkish comedy, “The Death of Dick Long.’’ (His Emerson peer and “Swiss Army Man’’ cinematographer Larkin Seiple, coincidentally, lensed “Luce.’’)
Salem residents Jeffrey Ryan and Arielle Cimono co-directed comedy-thriller “Mass Hysteria,’’ about a modern witch hunt of their hometown. Benjamin Kasulke, who attended the Northfield-Mountain Hermon School in Gill, has comedy “Banana Split.’’ Boston-born actor Alessandro Nivola performs a screw-loose sensei reverse Jesse Eisenberg in Riley Stearns’s darkish comedy “The Art of Self-Defense.’’
In documentaries, “Running With Beto’’ — by Harvard grad David Modigliani, of Milton — appears on the rise of Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Another hot-button Washington doc, “Knock Down the House,’’ revolves spherical 4 girls who ran for Congress remaining yr, along with the victorious Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a BU grad.
Locally based filmmaker Fiona Turner will show her doc “Eat Up,’’ which explores eating regimen in Boston Public Schools. Boston’s Julie Smith Clem’s “It Started as a Joke,’’ co-directed with Ken Druckman, chronicles the decadelong run of Eugene Mirman’s Brooklyn comedy fest; Mirman himself grew up in Lexington and attended Hampshire College.
Wayland-bred documentarian Bill Haney, a Harvard grad, has a doc about most cancers immunotherapy researcher Jim Allison; and Boston’s Kevin J. James is behind video-game-store doc “Not for Resale.’’
The full lineup, along with fast picks, shall be thought of at iffboston.org