Live Festival Program (September 21-24) and Virtual Festival Program (September 22-30)


BOSTON – September 21, 2023 – The 39th edition of the Boston Film Festival (BFF), September 21-24th, 2023, highlights a breadth of films on topics ranging from crime and healing, to environment and sports. A live program showcasing films across iconic Boston venues include features Breakwater, Common Ground, Healing Dakota, American Outlaws, and the new episodic series Found.


Q&A sessions with film creative representatives following all live premieres. Actors, directors and writers expected to attend include Dermot Mulroney (“My Best Friend’s Wedding”), Darren Mann (“1923”), Alyssa Goss (“Bruh”), James Rowe (Director “Breakwater), Matt Paul (Producer “Breakwater”); Sean McEwen (Director “American Outlaws”), Cory Hardrict (Executive Producer “American Outlaws”); and James LaMonte (Director “Healing Dakota”).


Honors will be presented for Film Excellence to Dermot Mulroney following the film premiere of “Breakwater” at the Shalin Liu Performance Hall (Sept. 21).   A Lifetime Achievement Award for Treat Williams will be accepted by his wife Pam Van Sant and his son Gil Williams following the film premiere of “American Outlaws” at Paramount Theatre, Bright Family Screening Room (Sept. 23).


Three short programs will be included in the virtual program on Eventive. Participants to be announced on social media and at


BREAKWATER The Opening Night feature Breakwater (September 21, 7:00pm @ Shalin Liu Performance Hall, Rockport) from director and writer James Rowe. This crime-thriller follows a young ex-con who risks his newfound freedom to track down the estranged daughter of a fellow inmate, unknowingly delivering trouble straight to her doorstep. The film stars Dermot Mulroney (“My Best Friend’s Wedding”), Darren Mann (“1923”), Alyssa Goss (“Bruh”), Sonja Sohn (“Will Trent”), Mena Suvari (“American Beauty”), and Celia Rose Gooding (“Star Trek: The Strange New World”). Produced by Matt Paul, Dana Lustig, Larry Hummel, and Ed Winters.


COMMON GROUND The environmental documentary Common Ground (September 23, 2:30pm, Boston Public Library, Rabb Hall) is presented in partnership with The Boston Public Library’s season of focus on environmental and global issues. Directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell expose the poisonous practices within American food systems and illuminate how regenerative agriculture can help heal the soil, our health and the planet. This follow-up documentary to Kiss the Ground, features a star-studded cast including Laura Dern, Jason Momoa, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Ian Somerhalder and Donald Glover.


The Massachusetts’ spotlight film HEALING DAKOTA is from local, first-time director James LaMonte and shares the heartfelt story of a service dog rehabilitating from PTSD in the documentary film Healing Dakota. A brave K9 (Dakota) suffering from PTSD, inspired the establishment of a nonprofit K9 PTSD Center on Cape Cod with the goal to heal four-legged veterans and heroes from the trauma endured during their service. The special screening is on September 23, 5:00pm, at the Paramount Theatre with a Q+A immediately following. Tickets available for purchase.


AMERICAN OUTLAWS The true crime thriller American Outlaws (September 23rd, 8:30pm, Paramount Theatre, Bright Family Screening Room) directed by Sean McEwen is this year’s centerpiece feature screening. Based on the true story of the Dougherty siblings, the three desperate youths take matters into their own hands with a cross country crime spree of epic proportions. Starring India Eisley (“Underworld: Awakening”), Emory Cohen (“Brooklyn”), Sam Strike (“Outer Range”), Treat Williams (“Blue Bloods”), Cory Hardrict (“All American”), and Tess Harper (“No Country for Old Men”). Produced by Justin Alvarado-Brown, Alexandre Dauman, Steve Jaggi, and Cassidy Lunnen. The Boston Film Festival will be presenting an award for Lifetime Achievement to Treat Williams. His wife Pam Van Sant and son Gil Williams will be in attendance to accept the award.


FOUND The pilot episode of the upcoming missing-persons thriller from Nkechi Okoro Caroll (All

American) will be at the MIT Media Lab and is co-hosted by Danielle Wood, Assistant Professor of

Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, and Faculty Lead for Major in African and African

Diaspora Studies at MIT as part the 2023 Boston Film Festival (Sept. 23rd, 7:00pm, Media Lab’s Bartos Theatre, Location, 20 Ames Street, MIT Building E15, Lower Level, Bartos Theatre).

In any given year, more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. More than half that number are people of color that the country seems to forget about. Found is the story of public relations specialist Gabi Mosely (series star and producer Shanola Hampton) — who was once herself one of those forgotten ones — and her crisis management team now make sure there is always someone looking out for the forgotten missing people. But unbeknownst to anyone, this everyday hero is hiding a chilling secret of her own. The pilot episode was written by executive producer Nkechi Okoro Carroll (All American) and directed by DeMane Davis (Queen Sugar). Ticket link,


CRUZAN COWBOYS The short documentary Cruzan Cowboys (September 24th, 2:00 pm, 75 Amherst Street, MIT Building E14, 6th floor) directed by Douglas Wesley Segars chronicles the horse jockey community in Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands through the perspective of a young aspiring jockey, native to the island. Produced by Nandi George, Trina Nicole Peterson, and Product of the Work.


The 39th Boston Film Festival’s VIRTUAL PROGRAM launches on Friday, Sept. 22


Virtual Program – Narrative Features


Tokyo Cowboy tells the story of a Japanese businessman who goes on an unwitting journey of self-discovery when he takes a company trip from Tokyo to a Montana cattle ranch from director Marc Marriott. The brash businessman Hideki (Arata Lura) arrives in Montana having convinced his Tokyo bosses he can turn a profitless US cattle ranch into a premiere-performing asset. Yet when his Hardee’s-burger-loving Japanese Wagyu-beef expert fails him, Hideki is poised to misfire magnificently unless he identifies a missing element that’s key to the transformation… himself.  Stars Arata Lura, Goya Robles, Ayako Fujitani, Robin Weigert and Jun Kunimura. Producer Brigham Taylor. Writers Ayako Fujitani and Dave Boyle.


The thriller Fallen Drive is about a couple that attends their high school reunion with plans to exact revenge on a former classmate. Stars Nick Cassidy, Maryana Dvorska, Jakki Jandrell, Phillip Andre Botello, Donald Clark Jr., and Josh Thrower. Writer/Directors Nick Cassidy and David Rice. Executive Producers Maryana Dvorska, Tim Rhys, and Edwin Kho.



The feature No Right Way follows a pair of half-sisters who try to make each other whole when calamity strikes. Georgie (Ava Acres), a brazen tween, is thrust into the guardianship of her half-sister Harper (Chelsea Bo) whose attempts to parent only lead to exposing their paralleled childhood wounds. Stars Chelsea Bo, Ava Acres, Eliza Coupe, and Sufe Bradshaw. Writer/Director Chelsea Bo. Producer Sean Drummond.


The character-driven narrative Marbles and Bullets is a soul-searching fantasy adventure that takes place during the American Civil War. While in the heat of battle, a confederate soldier makes a fateful decision that sends him on a journey home through a parallel wilderness with a 10-year-old slave boy who challenges his beliefs. Stars Tony Award Winner Shuler Hensley, Cylk Cozart, Christopher Lawson-Palmer, David Dwyer, Enya Flack, and Nikki Estridge. Director/Writer Richard De Witt.


Virtual Program – Documentary Features


The sports documentary Rise Above: The Journey to College Basketball is a coming-of-age journey. Three under-the-radar high school basketball players, who are driven to make it to the next level, navigate the uncertainty of their futures when an already volatile recruiting landscape is impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Aided by their dedicated Coach who is motivated to get them noticed by college programs, these players must overcome injuries, the daunting recruiting challenges of modern-day college athletics, and personal tragedies off the court, all to achieve a shared dream: to play college basketball. Directed by Rhode Island native Seth Shapiro along with Emmy Award winner Erik Butts, received for Outstanding New Approaches for his web series NFL UP!  Producer Russell Payne.


From Director Mike Dorsey, the documentary film Sisters of Ukraine follows two volunteers from Barcelona as they travel to a convent in western Ukraine where nuns are aiding refugees following the Russian invasion. As the missile attacks on all of Ukraine surge to unprecedented levels following the bombing of the Kerch Bridge in Crimea, the nuns and volunteers take a group of three-dozen refugees and families of soldiers fighting in the war on a three-day journey across Europe to housing near Barcelona. Executive Producer Steven Campos. Cinematography by Emmy Winners Terry Pratt and Jacopo Campaiola.


Unconditional from award-winning filmmaker Richard Lui (MSNBC, CNN) focuses on the topic of mental and emotional health affecting 100 million Americans. Three families bravely turn the corner, showing us the healing power of relearning how to love. The film pulls off the bandaid to illuminate a topic that is both a hidden wound and a hidden strength in all of us. Director/Producer Richard Lui. Producer Alex Lo. Executive Producers Maria Shriver, Laurie Hernandez, Montel Williams, Lauren Miller Rogan, Jean Tsien, Donald Young, Steve Schwab, Jamie Nguyen, and Joanne Pike.


When Hope Breaks Through from Award Winning director Matthew Wagner is the inspiring story of Mike Shoreman, a disabled paddle boarder who attempts to become the first person with disabilities to cross all five Great Lakes. In 2018 Mike was diagnosed with a neurological condition that left him paralyzed, with vertigo, hearing and vision loss, ultimately leading to depression and a mental health breakdown. This riveting documentary explores the current state of the mental health crisis in Canada and our relationships with our own mental health. The film immerses the audience in Mike’s epic five crossings, encompassing over 300 kilometers of open water paddling with his dedicated crossings team. Together these strangers come together and form an inseparable bond as they face and conquer obstacles from boats breaking down, medical emergencies to hallucinations and everything in between. Director Matthew Wagner. Producers Matthew Wagner, Liana Neumann, and Mike Shoreman.


The spectacular film Visions in the Dark from Director Flavia Moraes highlights the relationship between horses and trainers as a metaphor to demonstrate how our disconnection from nature has led us to contemporary blindness. Limited to our perspective, we lost touch with intuitive ways of communication, narrowing our vision. But a new path was carved by those who dared to see differently.  Monty Roberts is the creator of a non-violent training method based on silent body language.  Together with his head instructor, Denise Heinlein, they challenge traditions in breathtaking landscapes such as California, Pampas, and Patagonia. Joining the conversation are communication specialists Denis Connolly, the director of the School of Looking in Paris, and the writer Yoko Tawada, about the limits and possibilities of languages for human understanding and authentic connections.



TICKETS: Both virtual and live program ticket information can be found at the festival’s website: along with info on Q&A sessions.


BFF Parties: announced on social media:

Facebook: Boston Film Festival

Instagram: @bostonfilmfestival

X: @Bostonfilmfest.

SPONSORS: Marina Studios, Omni Hotel Boston at the Seaport; Boston Public Library; Shalin Liu Performance Center; Emerson College; M.I.T Media Lab; Dream Alley.




MEDIA CONTACTS: Ashley Sandberg,,