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’Escapement’ in Roxbury Film Festival

Escapement, a short film produced last year by Emersonians that weaves jazz themes into a heartfelt generational story of African American men, will be part of the 16th annual Roxbury International Film Festival that runs June 25–29.

Escapement will be shown on Friday, June 27Serenata de Amor, a short film described as a Cape Verdean love story told in song, based on a screenplay by Emerson faculty members Claire Andrade-Watkins and Benny Ambush, will be shown on Saturday, June 28.

The director of the film festival—New England’s largest that celebrates people of color—is Emerson alumna Lisa Simmons, MFA ’01.

“It’s definitely an honor,” said Jae Williams ’08, director and writer of Escapement. “It’s the largest festival for films about people of color in the Boston area, so it’s very special to me.”


Jae Williams '08, Jessica Chance '00, and Nerissa Williams, MFA '15, outside the Paramount Center. The trio are behind the short film Escapement, which will be shown at the Roxbury International Film Festival June 25-29. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Escapement is a story that focuses on three generations of African American men who converse through jazz music to tell a story of appreciation, love, and family. The main character is Brandon (Julian “Keyz” Thomas), a 17-year-old from inner-city Boston, who turns to his musical talents to help his struggling family, all while coming to terms with self identity, peer pressure, and trust.

“The spine of the film is jazz music—a genre I feel is being lost—but has layers dealing with love and family,” said Williams, who works as a digital media producer in Emerson’s Office of Communications and Marketing. “Anybody from any walk of life can relate to that on some level.”

“It was inspiring,” said Jessica Chance ’00, an actor who played the role of Ms. Lewis in the film, “to see folks work hard to tell a story in a way that uses music, particularly jazz.” Chance works in Emerson’s Office of Career Services.

Escapement - promotional

A promotional photo for Escapement, featuring Jae Williams '08 and Nerissa Williams, MFA '15. Pianos are a prominent theme in the film. (Courtesy Photo)

Nerissa Williams, MFA ’15, (who is not related to Jae Williams) was the assistant director of Escapement, and works as assistant sound stage manager at the Paramount Center.

 “It was such a joy working on this film,” said Nerissa Williams, whose short film High Watch: The Power of Prayer was featured in the festival last year.

“I am extremely excited to be a part of the Roxbury International Film Festival, as it is a premier destination for what is ‘in’ and available for people of color in the New England area,” she said. “Kudos to Lisa Simmons for keeping the dream alive!” 

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