3 Films Meant To Bring About Change At The Roxbury International Film Festival

For 19 years, the Roxbury International Film Festival (RIFF) has brought buried voices to the forefront to entertain, to educate and, whenever possible, to spur viewers into action. The festival — for, by and about people of color — boasts over 60 films from a variety of genres this year.

“We have so many films that tell stories that people don’t even know about. I love when people come out of a movie thinking, ‘I had no idea,’ ” says Lisa Simmons, founder and president of the Color of Film Collaborative and director of RIFF.

She talks animatedly about the history of RIFF (which starts Thursday, June 22) and her passion for film, but it’s obvious that the festival’s audience holds a special place in her heart.

“They want to be entertained, but they also want to be moved and they want to, I think, be educated. They’re really passionate about things that they might learn from a particular film, which is what I think draws people to the festival,” she says.

One film that does just that is “Mixed Match.” An emotionally-charged, partially animated documentary written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns, “Mixed Match” follows the lives of multiracial blood cancer patients in a desperate search to find mixed-race bone marrow or blood cell donors. Read more.


S. Epatha Merkerson’s directorial debut – Bay State Banner

Film, stage and television actress S. Epatha Merkerson — most famous for her role as Lt. Van Buren on NBC’s Law & Order— has finally stepped behind the camera to executive produce and co-direct a documentary,“The Contradictions of Fair Hope.”

Through powerful personal stories narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, the film explores the development and loss of tradition of one of the last remaining African American benevolent societies, The Fair Hope Benevolent Society (FHBS) in Uniontown, Ala.

Read more: Bay State Banner – S. Epatha Merkerson’s directorial debut