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RIFF and PIFF celebrate reaching sweet 15

Elimu Nelson and Shanola Hampton star in “Things Never Said,” the debut feature of Charles Murray (pictured), which opens the 15th annual Roxbury International Film Festival.

Roxbury International Film Festival

Elimu Nelson and Shanola Hampton star in “Things Never Said,” the debut feature of Charles Murray (pictured), which opens the 15th annual Roxbury International Film Festival.

It’s a celebration of the new and an honoring of tradition when Charles Murray’s debut feature, “Things Never Said,” opens the 15th annual Roxbury International Film Festival June 27 at the Museum of Fine Arts. Murray, a veteran television writer for such series as “Castle” and “Criminal Minds,” wrote and directed the drama about two Los Angeles women struggling to find their artistic voices and self-worth. It stars Elimu Nelson, Shanola Hampton, and Michael Beach, all of whom will be in attendance on opening night. The RIFF will give Beach, a Roxbury native, the Independent Spirit Award for his career as an actor in the independent film world.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Hampton (who appears in Showtime’s “Shameless”) and Roxbury native Nelson, who stars in the TV series “House of Lies.”

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Over 15 years, the RIFF has evolved from a local event to the region’s premiere festival focusing on filmmakers of color. To honor its past, this year’s RIFF will screen the acclaimed urban dramas “Lift” (2001) and “Squeeze” (1997). “Lift,” directed by DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter, stars Kerry Washington, who now headlines the hit ABC series “Scandal,” as a stylish shoplifter forced to choose between “booster life” and a job in New York. “Squeeze,” directed by Roxbury’s own Robert Patton-Spruill, follows three young people trying to survive on the streets of Boston as they struggle to improve their lives.

This year’s RIFF will screen approximately 35 features, shorts, documentaries, and Web episodes over the course of four days. Screenings will take place at five local venues: the Museum of Fine Arts, the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Haley House Bakery Café, and Northeastern University. Other highlights include the popular community event Dinner and a Movie at Haley House Bakery Café, on June 28. This year’s screening is the relationship documentary “In Search of the Black Knight,” which promises “a humorous look at the shortage of eligible black men.”

The RIFF closing night features a conversation with Tonya Lewis Lee, producer and wife of director Spike Lee, on June 30 at the MFA.

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15 and counting

Roxbury International Film Festival

Shanola Hampton.

Another notable festival that hits the 15-year mark this month is the Provincetown International Film Festival, which runs June 19-23. Featured guests this year include Matt Dillon, who’ll receive the Excellence in Acting Award; noted cinematographer Ed Lachman, who’ll be honored with the Faith Hubley Career Achievement Award; and writer-director Harmony Korine, this year’s Filmmaker on the Edge. Directors and past honorees Todd Haynes, Mary Harron, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, John Waters, and producer Christine Vachon will also be on hand to help the PIFF celebrate this milestone. The festival opens with the much-anticipated “Lovelace,” about “Deep Throat” star Linda Lovelace. Directed by Epstein and Friedman, it stars Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, and Juno Temple. Other highlights include the documentary “I Am Divine,” about Waters’s eponymous friend, muse, and star of numerous Waters movies, including “Female Trouble” and “Pink Flamingos”; and Pedro Almodóvar’s new comedy, “I’m So Excited!”

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Music and movies

Also off Cape Cod, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society launches a three-day festival of features and shorts about music. It starts Friday and runs through next Sunday. The opening film is “The Mighty Uke,” a tribute to the oft-maligned ukulele. It’s followed by the premiere of “Good Ol’ Freda,” about a shy Liverpool teenager who became secretary to a young local band, the Beatles. Other documentaries include “Sound City,” about the famed California recording studio; “Downloaded,” which chronicles the rise and fall of Napster; and “Crossfire Hurricane,” about the Rolling Stones.

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Roxbury International Film Festival

Shanola Hampton.

Virtually Branagh

Actor-director Kenneth Branagh visits Gloucester’s Cape Ann Community Cinema this Sunday — sort of. The CACC hosts the US premiere of Branagh’s screen adaptation of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” at 1 p.m. Immediately following the screening, Branagh will conduct a live, Twitter-fueled question-and-answer session onscreen, with viewers texting their questions. The film will have repeat screenings Monday through Wednesday.

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In the House

Closer to home, director Angad Bhalla will be part of a question-and-answer session after the screening of “Herman’s House,” a documentary that examines the unlikely friendship between a New York artist and one of America’s most famous inmates as they collaborate on an art project. The film screens June 17 as part of the DocYard series at the Brattle Theatre.

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Stones on screen

As part of its Big Screen Classics series, the Coolidge presents a 35mm screening of “Gimme Shelter” June 17. Cinéma-vérité pioneers David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin directed the 1970 feature about the Rolling Stones, a landmark in rock ’n’ roll documentary and concert films.

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Loren King can be reached at
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