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Roxbury International Film Festival offers hybrid program, in-person screenings

‘Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story’ and ‘Triggered Life’ are among the offerings at the festival, dedicated to ‘celebrating films by, for, and about people of color’

Columbus Short and Ledisi as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson in "Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story"Ron T. Young

The 24th annual Roxbury International Film Festival, which runs from June 23 through July 2, showcases the work and stories of people of color — its mission for more than 20 years. This year, there will be 80 films, more than a quarter of which were made by local or regional filmmakers. Additional offerings include workshops, panel discussions, script readings, discussions with filmmakers, and networking opportunities.

As was the case last year, the festival will be hybrid. But this year, most of the screenings will be in-person. Main venues include the Museum of Fine Arts, Hibernian Hall, and the Emerson Paramount Center.


“We’re really happy to be in person,” said Lisa Simmons, artistic/executive director of the festival. With the ongoing pandemic, she added, “we’re also very conscious of the fact that people still don’t feel comfortable. So we’ve curated an entire program called ROXFILM@Home for people who don’t feel that comfortable and also might not have the accessibility — means to be able to come into the theater.”

The festival will open with “Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story,” a biopic about the titular legendary gospel singer (played by R&B/jazz artist and actress Ledisi). Directed by Denise Dowse, the film chronicles Jackson’s career and impact on the civil rights movement.

“[Jackson] was such a civil rights leader and really close to Martin Luther King,” said Simmons, noting the relevance of the film’s themes amid calls for racial justice and discussions around voting rights. “It’s really important to sort of lead with something that’s going to help us set the stage for the festival.”

“Triggered Life” explores trauma faced by Black men after sexual abuse. According to the festival website, the film asks, “How exactly does sexual trauma cast a shadow over the wholeness of Black male selfhood?” It follows a day in the life of two men, Ishmael and Keith, as they seek to define their own identity and manhood. Ishmael and Keith are both played by Cambridge actor Keith Mascoll. The screening is on June 24 and starts at 5:30 p.m. at the MFA.


This year, there are two free screenings on June 28. The Next Generation and Teen Empowerment screening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will feature films and shorts made by and/or about youth. This screening will be at Hibernian Hall, and people can RSVP on Eventbrite.

The other free screening is 1997′s “Love Jones.” It will take place outdoors on the Huntington Avenue Lawn at the MFA at 8:30 p.m. “Love Jones” is a romantic drama following aspiring poet Darius (played by Larenz Tate) and photographer Nina (played by Nia Long), who make an instant connection at a bar. The couple’s future is jeopardized when Nina moves to New York to reconnect with her ex-fiance (played by Khalil Kain). The film is 25 years old this year.

No tickets are required. The 8 p.m. screening will be preceded by a Q&A with Regie Gibson, a local poet on whom the film is based. Gibson’s poetry is also an integral part of the film. Moviegoers are encouraged to pack dinner, non-alcoholic beverages, and a blanket or low chair (under 3 feet in height). The film will play with open captions.

Closing out the film festival is “Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums,” about the life and music of the titular Cuban pianist and composer. The screening begins at 5 p.m. at the Paramount Center on June 29.


For more information, tickets, and a complete schedule, visit www.roxfilmfest.com/2022festival

Serena Puang was a Globe intern in 2022. Follow her on Twitter @SerenaPuang.