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By Scott Roberto / September 20, 12:00 AM
Boston Accent: Screen Stories

Lisa Viola, director of programming for the fifth annual GlobeDocs Film Festival, introduces Boston to gripping true-life tales


In Her role as director of programming for the GlobeDocs Film Festival—an annual celebration of documentary filmmaking that takes place this year at three different cinemas across the area—Lisa Viola sifts through more than 100 submissions annually to, as she says, “include a diverse selection of the best new documentaries that have not yet screened in Boston and present them to our growing audience.” 

When asked to pick a few highlights, Viola singles out the opening night film, Gay Chorus Deep South, which recounts the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’ tour through the American South “to promote harmony in an increasingly divided country.” She also cites the closing night film about Boston’s tragic Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in 1942, which tells the stories of survivors and their loved ones.

As a special treat for Globe­Docs’ fifth year, a screening of a film about Harlem’s landmark Apollo Theater is accompanied by an appearance by Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters. Not only that, the festival’s first 3-D film, a documentary on pioneering choreographer Merce Cunningham, is on the schedule. As Viola enthuses, “The visuals are incredible!” There are also more international films than in prior editions. “We have new films from Syria, Qatar, Germany and the U.K.,” she states.

As always, films are accompanied by post-show discussions with Boston Globe reporters, which, Viola reveals, “is a major plus for our audience,” according to feedback she has received. “Filmmakers are excited to participate in the post-film discussions and the audience has the opportunity to hear firsthand about the process of what was involved in making the films and go deeper about the stories the filmmakers are telling,” she further shares.

As an area native and lover of film, Viola grew up—as did many of the local filmmakers represented in the festival—attending movies at two of GlobeDoc’s historic venues, Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre and Cambridge’s Brattle Theatre. “Both theaters have very dedicated audiences and the shared love of film and the sense of community is amazing to witness!” Experience the enthusiasm for yourself from October 2–6.

GlobeDocs Film Festival

October 2–6 in Boston, Cambridge and Brookline, filmfest.bostonglobe.com

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