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Roxbury International Film Festival is back in person

Screenings to be held at three venues

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Roxbury International Film Festival is back in person
Ledisi and Andy Lauer in a scene from “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story.” COURTESY PHOTO

The Roxbury International Film Festival is back in person for its 24th year bringing independent films by diverse and underrepresented filmmakers to Boston. Running June 22–July 2, the festival will be hosted at the Museum of Fine Arts, Hibernian Hall and ArtsEmerson and a curated selection of films will also by available online to experience from home.

“One thing about independent film festivals is that whole feeling and buzz of being together with other filmmakers, and audience members being able to interact with filmmakers,” says RoxFilm Director Lisa Simmons “Films should be watched with an audience; you need that feeling of a collective response. That’s what’s been missing the past couple years.”

The opening night feature film this year is “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story,” a stirring biopic about the gospel singer, her bond with Dr. Martin Luther King and her participation in the Civil Rights Movement. The festival will showcase feature-length narrative films, documentaries, shorts and animated films all centering Black and Brown voices and stories.

John Oluwole Adekoje in “Triggered Life.” PHOTO: RON T. YOUNG

From local artists, festival goers can look forward to the New England Premiere of “Triggered Life,” a film directed by local director John Adekoje and starring local actor Keith Mascoll that recently won an award at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival. Several other local filmmakers will screen feature films and highlight films from Boston Public School students and Lynn’s Raw Arts Program will run additionally.

“It’s always been our mission to support local filmmakers, that’s why this festival started in the first place,” says Simmons. “It’s exciting to see that there are more and more people using film as a medium to elevate voices, to bring local stories that we wouldn’t necessarily see on the big screen.”

Programming around the festival is hyper-local as well. Viewers can attend filmmaker hangouts around the city and a special event hosted by The Secret Society of Black Creatives at The Record Co. in Roxbury allows attendees to meet some of the festival filmmakers and listen to a live recorded conversation about their work. Daily script readings hosted online give writers the opportunity to have their work read by local actors and to receive workshop-style feedback.

“My hope that the audience takes away every year is that there are so many stories that we don’t see in mainstream media, there are so many people that we don’t know of because their voices aren’t elevated,” says Simmons. “For independent filmmakers to have a festival in your backyard, especially a Black film festival, it gives you this sense of a validity.”

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