David Roach and the 17th Oakland International Film Festival

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At the 17th Oakland International Film Festival close at Forage Kitchen in downtown Oakland. From left to right: My Father’s Belize writer Ron Oscar Sierra, My Father’s Belize actress Kisha Sierra, Oakland International Film Festival director David Roach, My Father’s Belize writer/director Leon Lozano, Lara and the Beat director Tosin Coker, La Promesa writer/director Mariaelena Gil, Lara and the Beat co producer Temi Coker.. Photo by Carla Thomas.

The Oakland Film Society presented the 17th Oakland International Film Festival from September 19th -28th featuring a variety of independent films. Attendees viewed nearly 100 films over 11 days at venues including the Grand Lake Theater, the Oakland Cultural Center, The Uptown, Holy Names University, Jack London Regal Cinema, alaMar and Forage Kitchen.

At Oakland Film Society, a downtown Oakland restaurant, “My Father’s Belize” featured a picturesque journey of a man who returns to the country to scatter his deceased father’s ashes, where he finds life altering secrets.

Also, the film short, Promesa followed a Mexican father immigrating through the hellish desert across the U.S.- Mexican border in hopes of earning enough money to save his ailing son.

Festival director, David Roach said the festival continues to grow due to the access of affordable technology creatives now have.

“Technology has truely been a game changer for independent filmmakers who now have access to resources to produce high quality projects,” said Roach.

“Filmmaking was traditionally very expensive and there was a great divide between commercial film and independent films,” he said. “The lines are now blurred. Independent films are of the same caliber as blockbuster films, in great demand.

As an entrepreneur with a degree in business finance from Moorehouse, Roach has always valued entrepreneurship and independence. As the president of the Familyhood Connection, Roach created Mo’ Better Food, a program connecting produce grown by African American farmers to communities that lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Roach has always sought to solve problems and make a difference. The program grew out of the Business Academy Roach led at McClymonds High School.

Expanding a platform and advocating for filmmakers became another mission. While witnessing the rise of filmmakers like Spike Lee, John Singleton, Robert Townsend and Mario Van Peebles, Roach recognized the need to create a forum to share the unique perspectives independent filmmakers bring to the table.

“I’ve always been about building community and connecting African Americans with Africa and the world,” said Roach.

Through the years, Roach has hosted a variety of celebrity guests at his festivals including Robert Townsend and Mario Van Peebles.

“Independent filmmakers offer an invaluable contribution to not only our country, but all over the world. It is crucial to tell our stories and share our images the world over.”

For more information on the film festival visit. www.oiff.org

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