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The Roxbury International Film Festival opens June 22

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO

The 19th annual Roxbury International Film Festival will screen at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from June 22-July 1. RoxFilm is the largest New England festival dedicated to celebrating films by and for people of color. The pieces cover a wide range of topics on what it means to be black and how that cultural experience is unique. The festival includes panel discussions, workshops and talkbacks as well as film screenings. Since its inception in 1999, the festival has welcomed over 38,000 attendees, satisfying Boston’s craving for independent films that represent the African American population.

On the Web

For more information and to see the schedule for the festival, visit: www.roxburyintern….

Darnell Lamont Walker, director of “Outside the House,” uses his film to address a serious phenomenon. “I wanted to start a conversation about mental health in the black community because it’s such a taboo subject,” he says. “Suicide rates are increasing, especially among young black boys.” The title of the film stems from Walker’s desire to bring mental health issues out of the hush-hush environment of the home and into a helpful, public forum.

Walker doesn’t take the statistical, scare tactic documentary approach. “Outside the House” is a series of personal stories shared in the hopes of inspiring others to open up about their experience. The filmmaker recalls an especially powerful moment when he was interviewing a subject in a public park and a crowd gathered around to listen to his story. As the conversation went on the crowd began participating, offering support and sharing their own stories. It was then that Walker realized just how powerful this film could be.

“Outside the House” has raised over $25,000 to assist people who can’t afford mental health services. Walker estimates they’ve assisted about 50 people in finding and affording therapists. Interested parties are encouraged to visit to learn more and donate.

Madeleine Gavin has a similar social activist message in her film “City of Joy.” The film centers on the female leadership center by the same name in the eastern Congo, which empowers women who have been victims of rape and violence to become voices of change. Gavin weaves the stories of the programs founders, Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, women’s rights activist Christine Schuler Deschryver and radical feminist Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, with the stories of the women who have found empowerment within.

“Our country has turned a blind eye to what has been going on in Africa for far too long,” says Gavin about the mistreatment of women in the war-torn country. “The women in the Congo have never given up, despite all the challenges and roadblocks. And we can’t, either.”

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