Celebrities and local filmmakers at the Independent Film Festival of Boston

Alexander Stevens

While you weren’t paying attention, the Independent Film Festival of Boston got big. A staggering 96 films are included in this year’s incarnation, which runs April 23-29 in Somerville, Cambridge and Brookline. In addition, there will be filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, and parties.

And look at the names this year’s event is attracting: Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley and Mary Stuart Masterson, who’s making her directorial debut.

And local filmmaking success story Brad Anderson will help kick things off on Opening Night, when he’s on hand to screen his new film, “Transsiberian.”

Anderson is truly local. He’s not only from this area, he also made films about this area. His breakout comedy, the fabulous “Next Stop Wonderland” (1998), used many local actors as part of its Boston backdrop. And Anderson got the idea for his terrific little 2001 chiller-thriller “Session 9” while he drove past the eerie and abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital.

If you see a trend developing here in Anderson’s work, it’s that there’s really no trend. He jumped from comedy, to horror, to the disturbing (“The Machinist”). And for his new film, he’s headed in another direction. “Transsiberian” is a kind of Hitchockian thriller. (Note: Just to throw you entirely off his trail, it looks like Anderson’s next film will be a musical.)

“I like to move from genre to genre,” says Anderson from his home in New York. “It’s a way to test myself. I’ve never been interested in repeating myself. At least not consciously.”

Inspired by “Strangers on a Train” or “The Lady Vanishes,” “Transsiberian” follows, well, strangers on a train. The more these passengers get to know each other, the less they realize they know. 

Anderson liked the dramatic possibilities and intrigue inherent in a train — the chance for people from all over the world to meet in a contained environment, traveling through exotic locations.