The 23 movies premiering at the seventh annual BAMcinemaFest don't have much in common except for one key trait: they are, each of them in its own way, audacious pieces of work that remind us just how dynamic the independent film scene is today.
The event commences Wednesday with "The End of the Tour," in which Jason Segel plays the iconic David Foster Wallace, sitting down for a Rolling Stone interview with David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) not long after the publication of "Infinite Jest."
The centerpiece selection is the latest from Alex Ross Perry ("Listen Up Philip"), "Queen of Earth," in which Elisabeth Moss stars as a woman slowly going mad in vivid close-ups as she spends time at the vacation home of her best friend.
Sci-fi is represented with "Advantageous," a film that explores a classic premise in a unique fashion, as a mother considers whether to undergo a procedure that would leave her with a new body.
There are plenty of buzz-worthy documentaries, including "Prophetas Prey," about the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs, who is now in prison on multiple counts of sexually assaulting children; "The Russian Woodpecker" looks at the enduring legacy of Chernobyl; the topical "Best of Enemies" chronicles the polarized television debates of Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley in 1968.
It's always exciting to see movie stars step out of their natural comfort zone. Kristen Wiig has amassed an impressive resume of independent films in the years since her departure from "Saturday Night Live."
"Nasty Baby," in which she plays the best friend of a gay man who agrees to conceive a child with his boyfriend, is another example of her refusal to play things safe.
Cobie Smulders is a terrific actress, capable of a whole lot more than turning up in Marvel movies and on "How I Met Your Mother" reruns. She proves that again in "Unexpected," a smart and humane movie about pregnancy from a badly underrepresented perspective.
"Krisha" took the South by Southwest Film Festival by storm earlier this year, wowing with its portrait of a woman reuniting with her family for a dysfunctional holiday.
Then there's "Tangerine," the latest from filmmaker Sean Baker, which represented what independent film should be all about: it's an immersive portrait of a day-in-the-life of two transgender women in Los Angeles, shot entirely on an iPhone 5s.