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RoxFilm tackles mountains and maternal health

Olivia Grant
RoxFilm tackles mountains and maternal health
Mardi Fuller in “Mardi & The Whites.” PHOTO: COURTESY OF PAULA CHAMPAGNE

The Roxbury International Film Festival (RoxFilm) continues its lineup of monthly programming as the festival approaches its 25th anniversary in June. This month’s program, “Going Outdoors While Black,” is a collection of shorts screening at the Museum of Fine Arts on Friday, April 14 at 7 p.m. Next month’s film is “Aftershock,” directed by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, showing at the Museum of Fine Arts on May 25 at 7 p.m.

Lisa Simmons, the festival’s executive and artistic director, hopes the screenings and subsequent conversations alert audiences to issues affecting people of color, like navigating outdoor spaces and maternal health inequality.

“So much of what we do is about raising awareness about issues that affect Black and brown people,” Simmons said in a phone interview.

One theme is being a Black body in the predominantly white world of outdoor sports. “Going Outdoors While Black” consists of three films that explore the experience of participating as an African American in activities like ice climbing, hiking and camping. “Black Ice,” directed by Peter Mortimer and Zachary Barr, follows a Memphis rock- climbing team to Montana as members scale ice for the first time. “Wood Hood,” directed by Alex Cullen, follows DeVaughn, a New York City teenager who gets the opportunity to go camping for a week and finds refuge in the quiet.

The last film, “Mardi & The Whites,” focuses on Mardi Fuller, a Black Bostonian who hikes the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Fuller empowers other African Americans to embrace the healing nature of the mountains and to reclaim their space on the trails. Fuller will be present for a post-film conversation and Q&A.

“We really wanted to do a series of films that talk about claiming and reclaiming spaces,” said Simmons, “and it being adventurous and joyful.”

The May program takes a different turn with “Aftershock.” The documentary takes a look at two families whose matriarchs died as a result of poor maternal health care. The grief-stricken surviving relatives and newly single fathers work together to fight for justice for their deceased partners and to combat systemic racism in medicine. This event is part of the Healing Arts Film Series created in partnership with The Wellness Collaborative, Inc. Lewis Lee will be in attendance for a post-film conversation and Q&A.

Back in March, RoxFilm had two screenings. “Girl Talk,” directed by Lucia Smalls, was part of the Shared Stories film series. Shared Stories is a partnership between RoxFilm, Boston Asian American Film Festival and CineFest Latino Boston. Simmons said the Shared Stories series partnership began with the idea of focusing on the similarities between the Black, Asian and Latino communities instead of the differences between groups.

“These aren’t films that you’re necessarily going to see in the megaplex,” said Simmons. “They’re important films, because they lead conversations that educate and make people think and feel, and I think that’s what’s really important.”

For tickets to “Going Outdoors While Black,” visit mfa.org/event/film/roxfilm-shorts-on-being-black-outdoors

For tickets to “Aftershock,”visit mfa.org/event/film/aftershock

Film Festival, Going Outdoors While Black, MFA, RoxFilm