Roxbury International Film Festival

2002 Roxbury Film Festival

RFF 2002 Awards

Awards for the 4th Annual Roxbury Film Festival: Celebrating the Vision and the Voice of New England Filmmakers of Color.

The Boston Chapter of Links, Inc. presents
The Audience Favorite Award – winner, All About You. Award of $500 won by Michael & Christine Swanson.

The Color of Film Collaborative presents
The Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking. Award of $500 won by Leigh Dana Jackson, director of In The Game.

Kay Bourne, Arts Editor of the Bay State Banner presents
The Award for Emerging Local Filmmaker. Won by Kona Khasu, director of Hunting in America (premiered at RFF)

Eastman Kodak, Inc. presents
The Best of Festival Award. Won by Blue Diner ($1000 in Kodak film stock) -

FilmShack presents
The Award for Technical Excellence in Filmmmaking. Won by To the Land of Bliss, director, Wen-jie Qin

High Output presents
The Festival Award for Best Short Film. Won by Aimee Dixon, director of Vivian

RFF 2002 Films

Featured Guest — KASI LEMMONS
A proven talent as an actress and a writer, Kasi lemmons has added another creative hat to her collection with her follow-up to eve’s bayou: the caveman’s valentine. She will next direct Columbia Pictures’ the battle of cloverfield, a script she wrote about a fictitious Southern town where ghosts of the past conspire to change the future.

Lemmons’ film the caveman’s valentine is a Universal Focus film and is a co-production of Danny Devito’s Jersey Films, and features eve’s bayou star Samuel Jackson. Adapted from the unconventional mystery novel by George Dawes Green, the caveman’s valentine tells the story of a mentally-ill former Juillard music student who now lives in a cave of a New York park. When a corpse is found on his “doorstep” on Valentine’s Day, the Caveman decides to solve the murder himself.

Lemmons’ first feature-length screenplay, eve’s bayou, went on to become the highest grossing independent film of 1997. The film won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and received seven NAACP Image Award nominations, including Best Picture. In addition, Lemmons received a special first-time director award, created just for her, from the National Board of Review. She also won the Director’s Achievement Award at the 9th Annual Nortel Palm Springs Film Festival.

Lemmons’ work as an actress includes roles in Jonathan Demme’s silence of the lambs, opposite Jodi Foster; John Woo’s first American film, hard target; Rusty Cundieff’s parody of the rap music industry, fear of a black hat; candyman with Virginia Madsen; the Spike Lee produced drop squad opposite Eriq La Salle; and vampire’s kiss with Nicolas Cage.

Prior to eve’s bayou, Lemmons directed the short film dr. hugo, which has subsequently been screened at festivals around the world.

Dr. Hugo
Using an excised portion of a script she had written about a young girl’s coming of age in the South, director Kasi Lemmons developed the short film Dr. Hugo. The film, which starred her husband, actor Vondie Curtis Hall, served as the illumination for the critically acclaimed Eve’s Bayou, also directed by Lemmons.

Caveman’s Valentine
In Kasi Lemmon’s penetrating and touching neo-Gothic thriller The Caveman’s Valentine, Samuel L. Jackson delivers a powerful performance as Romulus Ledbetter, a man caught on the sharp edge between genius and madness.
Language, Adult Content, Violence
www.cavemansvalentine.com

ALL ABOUT YOU
(premiere) directed by Christine Swanson
35mm, 100min.
www.faithfilmworks.com
A romantic drama centered around a beautiful law student who, after being jilted by her beau, abandons her studies to waitress in a trendy club, then falls for her ex-lover’s estranged brother.

The cast includes: Renee Goldsberry, Terron Brooks, LisaRaye, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and Debbie Allen. Written and directed by Christine Swanson, produced by Michael Swanson, both of whom will attend the film festival.

BLUE DINER
directed by natatcha Estébanez & Jan Egleson
35mm, 100min.
www.bluediner.com

The Blue Diner is a film about food, memory, language and caskets.
It is the story of a Puerto Rican mother and daughter living together in Boston and the difficulties they encounter when the daughter, Elena, mysteriously loses her ability to speak Spanish, her first language. Everyone has a theory about the origin of Elena’s misfortune, but no one knows for certain what has caused the tragic and absurd event. As Elena’s language disappears, her boyfriend’s painting inexplicably appears at the Fine Arts Museum where her mother works. In a misguided attempt to obtain an artist’s visa, his actions unleash a world of misunderstanding and trouble for Elena and her mother. As the relationship between mother and daughter deteriorates, the two women are forced to confront each other and their murky past. But a haunting song, a missing father, and a plate of fried brains help to reunite Elena, her mother, and her language.

Unlike many films about Latinos in this country, the blue diner tells a story without the usual urban stereotypes, filled with celebration and tragedy, laughter and pain, misunderstanding and love.

Actress Miriam Colón will be present to speak about blue diner after its screening.
Her latest films are all the pretty horses, directed by Billy Bob Thornton and starring Matt Damon; the unanimously acclaimed lone star, written, directed and produced by John Sayles; and the house of spirits, starring Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons.

THE ANGRY HEART
directed by Jay Fedigan
video, 57min.

The angry heart is a video documentary that explores the impact of racism on heart disease among African-Americans through the personal story of one man, Keith Hartgrove.
Hartgrove, a 45-year old resident of Roxbury, Massachusetts, shares his experience as an African-American living with heart disease. From symptoms to heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery and recovery, Keith chronicles his interactions with the medical staff he relies on for treatment and the African-American community he depends on for support.

Interwoven with his story are interviews with doctors, medical researchers, and members of Keith’s family, church and community. Their perspectives and relationship to Keith are very different, yet they all confirm that his experience is typical within the African-American community.

These interviews help place the relationship between racism and heart disease in a broader context within the American medical community, the African-American community and America as a whole.

BAD HAIR DAY
directed by Jessica Strelec
video, 12min.

Most American women have one thing in common – the propaganda they have been force-fed as girls that later blooms into the neuroses and insecurities they carry as women.

In these vignettes, six women recall experiences and share secrets that have altered their self-perception and have been tantamount in defining themselves. The trauma of a facelift, a feminist with a shoe fetish, weight issues – these are familiar accounts that humorously illustrate the extent to which we’ve been infected by the media’s vision.

A CHINATOWN BANQUET
directed by Michael Blockstein
produced by Eun-Joung Lee
video, 45min.

An interdisciplinary public art, education and multimedia project based on the metaphor of a Chinese banquet, a chinatown banquet raises awareness about the history, culture, and conditions of Boston Chinatown, the city’s most densely populated residential neighborhood. Featuring a menu of eight “courses,” the Banquet is a compendium of Chinatown’s history, unique flavor, political struggles, culture and physical environment.

COFFEE, TEA OR MILK
directed by Natasha S. Morris
video, 10min.

Coffee, tea, or milk is a dramatic story about five African-American men – Andre, Ahmad, James, Ty and Robert – who gather on a Friday night to watch a basketball game.

When the game ends, Ahmad changes the channel and stops upon Andre’s insistence on a public affairs show about relationships between black men and women. Andre, intrigued by the topic, surveys the group for their opinions. What starts out as simple questions posed out of curiosity segues into an emotional conversation exploring the factors, influences, and experiences that define their preferences in, and relationships with, women.
Explicit Language

DEFIANT
directed by A. Rico Speight
video, 6min.

An abbreviated remake of the classic film, The Defiant Ones, defiant is set in the swamplands of the South somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line in the 1950′s. It focuses on the plight of two escaped convicts, one black and one white, as they struggle to get along in order to survive.

DOUBLE DUTCH: A GATHERING OF WOMEN
directed by Wesley Isaac Richardson
produced by Desi Washington
trailer, 3min.

When a group of African-American women decide to meet for drinks one summer afternoon, old wounds of adolescence emerge. As they struggle with questions of beauty and self-worth some of them find that they’ve known the answers to these questions all along, and some realize that they had stopped asking and expecting answers. They double-dutched for fun as little girls and now they wonder if they’re jumping through hoops for someone else’s pleasure as women.

É MINHA CARA (That’s My Face)
directed by Thomas Allen Harris
35mm, 56min.

É minha cara – a colloquial Brazilian expression that roughly translates: “That’s my face!”- follows Harris’ journey to the city of Salvador Da Bahia – the African heart and soul of Brazil – seeking the identity of the spirits who haunt his dreams. Twenty years before, his mother made a parallel journey when, in 1974, she migrated with the family from the Bronx to Tanzania, East Africa in search of a mythic motherland.

Following in the auteur traditions of Pasolini, Chris Marker, Glauber Rocher and Marlon Riggs, Harris weaves myth, fantasy, and documentary into a compelling and evocative investigation of spirituality and identity across the African Diaspora.

In present day Salvador da Bahia, Harris searches for his Orishas-the African deities that make up the core of the Afro-Brazilian religious practice of Candomblé. Shifting between color and black & white, reality and dreams, the film traverses Afro-Brazilian religious festivals that climax in carnival, while slipping back to 1970′s home movies of a family’s journey from New York to Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. Through this odyssey, Harris comes to terms with a duality inherited from his grandfather who preached Pan-Africanism while worshipping an image of a blond, blue-eyed Christ.

GRAPEFRUIT FROM WALDEN POND
directed by Hashim Wali
video, 30min.

The great writer Thoreau once retreated from the outside world to the secluded confines of Walden Pond, which is known for its natural beauty and placid scenery.

Walden Pond is the perfect location to gather one’s thoughts or simply enjoy the wonders of nature – or maybe not?

In this performance, see what happens after the vacationers go home, after the joggers are done, and after the squirrels go to sleep.
Explicit Language, Adult Content

HOW I GOT OVER
directed by Kevin Shaw
video, 19min.

A family is broken when a religious African-American widow disapproves of her pregnant daughter’s interracial relationship with an Asian-American man.

HUNTING IN AMERICA (premiere)
directed by Kona Khasu
video, 28min.

A dark inner city street: a black SUV sits in the swirling glare of a police cruiser. Two officers approach the young African-American couple inside. A tense conversation erupts into a physical confrontation.

The SUV speeds away! Left behind: a dead cop, his partner in a coma.

Ben Hatchett, Assistant District Attorney, is handpicked to be a member of the prosecution team that is pushing hard to convict the alleged “cop killer” who was picked up after a massive manhunt. The son of the former highest ranking police officer in the state, he is considered, with his impeccable record and respect for fairness and honesty, the “DA in waiting.” He and his wife Nadine, a gifted surgeon at Boston Medical Center, are expecting their first child. Their world could not be more perfect, but there is one small problem, as the man accused of killing a cop is placed in the hands of Ben Hatchett – hands that are tainted with the real truth of the events of that evening.

A combination of fiction and social
Commentary, hunting in america touches upon moral and ethical dilemmas, political agendas, and family conflicts while delving deep into one of the most pressing and debated issues of our times: racial profiling.
Partial Nudity, Language, Violence

I AM ALI
directed by Dream Hampton
video, 17 minutes

An incisive and wrenching portrayal of a deep and abiding romantic relationship thrown into crisis by schizophrenia and misplaced idolatry.

IN THE GAME
directed by Leigh Dana Jackson
16mm, 13min.

Over half a million boys play high school basketball in the United States, and while some of them play simply for sport, many players harbor dreams of professional success in the back of their minds. Each year, less than one percent of boys playing high school basketball get the chance to play at the next level: Division 1 in the NCAA.

Jeff Jackson, a middle-class Black teenager, is one of the lucky few. As a senior at Thayer Academy, he has plans to play for a top college program next season. in the game explores the challenges and concerns that Jeff faces in the last few days of his high school basketball career as he considers his options and the degree to which basketball will play a role in his future.
In the game is the first documentary by director Leigh Dana Jackson. It was shot at various prep schools in Massachusetts during the spring of 1998.

KAKRA-KAKRA
directed by TJ Vickers
video, 8 minutes

The soul of an unborn summons her ancestor to usher her into existence. But the unborn must wait, as our existence is not guaranteed less the wounds of the past be healed and our parents ripened for our arrival. kakra-kakra, a Twi (Ghanaian language) expression for little-by-little, bit-by-bit, addresses a mother and daughter’s quest for identity and self-acceptance. Little-by-little, kakra-kakra, we come to love ourselves…
Nudity

KITE
directed by Troy Antonio
video, 18min.

Kite is a dark short suspense about a chain of events that occurs one afternoon between a clown, his niece, and a chocolate cake.

Tony Daton, who works as a freelance clown, helped police identify and put away a local drug dealer named Took. Sometime later, Took and his crew caught up to Tony in a dark alley, where he was then shot in the hand and almost beaten to death. Took vowed that if he ever saw Tony’s face again, he would kill him.

Since then, Tony has become a prisoner of his own apartment, where his sanity has slowly begun to chip away. His only ray of light is when his 10-year old niece Shane comes to visit. Tony has reached his breaking point, and has decided, with the help of his old friend Bones and a chocolate cake, that he will send a kite to Took.

Expressed in a stylized cinematic fashion, kite examines the state of a man’s mind on the brink of insanity due to his physical and mental confinement.
Explicit Language

A LIFE’S JOURNEY
directed by Isabel Garcia
video, 12min.

A day in the life of a Roxbury teenager; Isabel tells her story.

LIKE A WOMAN SHOULD
directed by Stacie E. Hawkins
video, 13:50

James wants Nia to be his trophy girlfriend. Nia wants to express her Afrocentric heritage. Their relationship comes to a crossroads when Nia’s drastic new haircut conflicts with James’s ideals of the female image.

A LOOK AT MEDIA VIOLENCE
directed by Joseph St. Germain
video, 8 minutes

How does violence in the media have an impact on our lives? A young group of movie makers, ages 8-12, attempt to answer that question through their 8-minute documentary, a look at media violence.

A look at media violence was created and produced in the media arts class of Fall 2001 in the school-age program of the Community Art Center of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Violent Content

LOVE IN HARLEM
directed by Julius I. Key
video, 30min.

Love in harlem is the story of a Harlem couple that must confront their own realities, beliefs, short-comings and prejudices before they can fully find themselves and each other.

The central characters are Rich Thomas, a 27-year old freelance photographer and his 25-year old girlfriend, Lisa Smith, who is a junior associate at a major midtown law firm.

As Lisa aggressively pursues what she believes to be the American Dream, Rich views the corporate structure with a less than glamorous opinion.
Their differing views and disparity in income creates a strife in the relationship and ultimately divides the partnership.

Lisa, confident in her career path, at first tries to find love and comfort in what she views as security and progress. Meanwhile, Rich must first work to overcome his sense of failure and self-worth to ultimately find love again.

In their journey for fulfillment and happiness, what they discover is that each has been seeking the same thing all along. But the question is whether or not it is too late for them to reconcile their differences.

MAI’S AMERICA
directed by Marlo Poras
video, 72 minutes

A spunky, mini-skirted daughter of Ho Chi Minh’s revolution leaves cosmopolitan Hanoi on a high school exchange program. Anticipating Hollywood, Mai crash lands in rural Mississippi where her relationships with white Pentecostal and black Baptist host families, self-proclaimed rednecks, transvestites, and South Vietnamese immigrants challenge her long-held ideas about herself, about freedom, about America, and even about Vietnam.

MISSING YOU
directed by Raouf Zaki
video, 7min.

Missing you is a short movie about a young African-American father, Marcus, who has lost his wife through death. He is left with three beautiful daughters to raise, Tarsha, Tessa and BooBoo. There is a new woman in his life, Debbie, who he has a hard time committing his total feelings to because of the feelings he still has for his deceased wife.

The story takes place in one day at the family home. Marcus is reflecting about his wife while he deals with the care of the children through this difficult day.

OUR SONG
directed by Jim McKay
35mm, 96min.
www.oursong.net
our song follows three friends, Lanisha (Kerry Washington), Maria (Melissa Martinez) and Jocelyn (Anna Simpson) through the hot August streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. During the closing weeks of summer, these girls endure rigorous rehearsals with their sixty-piece marching band, while biding their time shoplifting, daydreaming, flirting with boys and confronting the rising tensions within their own relationships.

As the small moments and dramas that mean nothing and everything to a young girl navigating her way into adulthood accumulate, the girls and their friendships change forever.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
directed by Phil Bertelsen
video, 57min.

Outside looking in: transracial adoption in america is a documentary about three American families brought together – and at times pushed apart – by transracial adoption. Filmmaker and transracial adoptee Phil Bertelsen examines the bonds and strains that family members experience when white couples decide to adopt and parent black children.

As America struggles to understand and address its own complex racial history, outside looking in compels the viewer to go beyond the traditional pro versus con debate by revealing the complex dynamics of the multi-racial family from an insider’s perspective.

PASSING MINDS
directed by Michael J. Hudson
video, 21 minutes

Is Wanda going crazy, or is it all in her family’s mind? Her sister Greta sure thinks so, and it’s working her last nerve.

Passing minds is a thought-provoking short film about four women and their struggle to come together as a family in the face of adversity.

REV’O.LU,SHUN
A film by Dahkil Hausif & Daoud Abeid
video, 26min.

The story, which unfolds in New York City, focuses on a cycle of events connecting a community through a stream of collective Karma. Man or woman, young to old, all are affected when negative energy becomes the catalyst for their actions.
Explicit Language

ROLL
directed by Michelle Cabalu16mm, 3min.
16mm,3min

“It was during the time that Martin Luther King was doing the sit-ins and the marches… and I was doing my part with the skating rinks, integrating them.”

Walter Ellis, the first African-American competitive roller skater, not only made his mark by opening the sport up to black skaters, but gained notoriety with a winning 20-year career. roll looks back on Walter’s skating career as he returns to the skating rink for the first time after a long hiatus.

SHELTER
directed by Lorna Lowe Streeter
digi-beta, 60 min.

In shelter, Boston Native Lorna Lowe Streeter exposes the often damaging effects of adoption and reunion, when she risks an already fragile relationship with her adoptive mother to search for her birth mother.
Explicit Language

A SHEPHERD’S STORY
directed by Fred Thomas, Jr.
video, 30min.

Butta’ is well respected in his neighborhood or maybe feared, due to the fact that he is the biggest up-and-coming drug dealer around his way. Butta’ survives a shoot out, and through “divine intervention” begins trying to transform his life. But old habits run deep, as he tries to rally a crusade to rid the hood of former partners and rivals who have accused him of a murder.
Violence, Explicit Language

STRIKE!
directed by Sheron Johnson
16mm, 26min.

A battle of wills ensues when Carolyn Williams decides she’s had enough of her husband’s laziness at home. Tony counters by recruiting his mother to move in temporarily. Eventually, thirteen days pass before they find themselves at the negotiating table.

SWEET OLD SONG
directed by Leah Mahan
video, 60min.

Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong has been performing for most of his 91 years, ever since his father carved his first fiddle from a wooden crate. sweet old song plays like one of the ballads that flow effortlessly from the funny and irrepressible Armstrong.

At the film’s center are the two great loves of Howard’s life: his music and artist Barbara Ward, age 60. Their two-decade romance has been a creative partnership yielding new work and an outpouring of memories. The camera follows them unobtrusively in their daily lives – from their lighthearted ribbing over domestic chores to Howard’s deep sadness over the death of his last surviving sibling. The loss of his brother sends them on an emotional trip to Howard’s hometown. As they take on life’s challenges, Howard and Barbara defy our most basic assumptions about what it means to grow older.

TAPESTRIES
directed by Kwesi Johnson
digi-beta, 35min.

A documentary about three generations of Black artists and the influence put upon them by society, and each other.
Explicit Language

TECSCHANGE: Technology for Social Change
directed by Lynn Weissman
video, 12min.
www.tecschange.org
Tecschange: technology for social change is a hip urban documentary profiling TecsChange, a non-profit organization in Roxbury. This hands-on, forward-thinking group fights poverty and teachers self-reliance by bridging the gaping digital divide locally and around the globe.

Students of TesChange’s Computer Repair Program take the opportunity to earn a refurbished computer while they learn to repair and upgrade computers. TecsChange also donates fixed pcs to social change organizations worldwide.

The TecsChange video depicts a grassroots group enacting social change in a world of “haves” and “have-nots.”

30 YEARS TO LIFE
directed by Vanessa Middleton
35mm, 93min.
starring Erika Alexander, Melissa De Sousa, Kadeem Hardison, Tracy Morgan, Paula Jai Parker, Allen Payne, T.E. Russell
www.thirtyyearstolife.com

30 years to life is an ensemble comedy that follows the lives of six friends in New York City during the year in which they each reach their 30th birthday.

We meet an investment banker from Wall Street whose stock portfolio is longer than her list of potential companions, a stand-up comedian pegged to be the next Eddie Murphy who will settle for being the next Garrett Morris, a real estate agent who’s been struggling with her weight for the past 29 years, a marketing executive who perceives any career advancement as a sign of getting old, and a young man whose thanks for being in a four-year relationship is a girlfriend who insists on an even greater commitment.
Their stories represent how turning 30 makes you question whether or not your hopes and dreams will ever come true as the realities of age, mortality and the loss of metabolism set in.
Explicit Language

TO THE LAND OF BLISS
directed by Wen-jie Qin
video, 47min.

To the land of bliss is an intimate portrayal of the Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Way of dying and living.
In 1998, the filmmaker/anthropologist Wen-jie Qin returned to her home region in Sichuan Province in southwest China to research the post-Mao revival of Buddhism. During her fieldwork on the sacred mountain Emei, an eminent monk named Jue Chang passed away. People in the community laughed and cried at the departure of their beloved teacher. They gathered to escort his body through a rite of fire and to observe his consciousness rise to a paradise known as the Land of Bliss of Amita Buddha.

The filmmaker captured some of the wonders and mystery from her search with these Chinese Pure Land Buddhists for the door to Amita Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Infinite Life.

A TOUCH OF TUTELAGE
directed by Thea St. Omer
16mm, 14min.

One student. One professor.
The desk between them.

VIVIAN
directed by Aimee Dixon
digi-beta, 22min.

Once a month, Erin, a focused young woman, has an untimely visit by her close friend, Vivian, who, obtrusive and melodramatic, strains Erin’s otherwise orderly life. Vivian impacts Erin’s life, especially where her relationship to her good-natured boyfriend, Sean, is concerned. Despite Vivian’s unwelcome presence, Erin needs Vivian in her life. Over the course of several difficult days, Erin endures her “monthly friend,” and her relationship with Sean is tested.

PANEL DISCUSSIONS:

Filmmaker’s Brunch & Panel
sponsored by
Eastman Kodak, Inc.
Local and international filmmakers will share personal stories, trials and tribulations, and the insider scoop behind the world of independent filmmaking. The panel will include Kasi Lemmons (caveman’s valentine & eve’s bayou), Christine Swanson (all about you), Robert Patton-Spruill (squeeze), and more.

Tribute to Henry Hampton
founder of Blackside, Inc.
Former Blackside, Inc. filmmakers discuss Henry Hampton’s vision and what they learned from how he taught. This panel will provide great information for anyone who is, or is thinking about, becoming a documentary filmmaker.

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