For several dozen Boston actors and film crew members, 2000 was the year they saw actor Kerry Washington sprint through Downtown Crossing in a pink designer suit and diamond stud earrings. The real treat, though, wasn’t rigging lights or running cables, but seeing their hard work projected on the big screen at the Roxbury International Film Festival.
Running June 25-29 at the Museum of Fine Arts, this year’s festival will close its 16th annual celebration of films made by and about people of color with a throwback 35mm screening of “Lift,” one of the Scandalstar’s first films. In it, Washington plays Niecy, a young woman who expertly lifts designer fashions from Boston’s most luxurious boutiques and sells them to her friends and family.
“Lift” is a homegrown narrative feature written and directed by DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter, Roxbury and Cambridge natives, respectively. Shot entirely in Boston, it’s a fitting bookend to a lineup of what festival director Lisa Simmons considers an unofficial thread of films featuring “women on the verge”—that is, women who endure life-changing personal and political dilemmas.
For Simmons as well as the makers of “Lift,” Washington has become a woman of influence. During casting, Streeter recalls that Washington “could flow into different tonalities…She had this dynamic quality in that she grew up in New York and went to this prep school and had to balance that by relating to cousins in the Bronx.”
On set, the actress seamlessly carried scenes shot at low-rise housing projects in Roxbury, guarded shops on Newbury Street and Kennedy’s department store, which Davis says was recreated so convincingly that extras tried to shop during breaks. In directing her performance, Streeter says, “you kind of knew she was going to be a star.”
Local actors who appeared in “Lift”—Jacqui Parker (founder of Our Place Theatre Project), Naheem Garcia and Crystal Tyson—will attend the 2:30 pm event on June 29 to answer audience questions and discuss the challenges of sustaining an acting career in Boston.
For a complete schedule, visit the festival website.