Nathaniel Lee Philly Tribune Correspondent, Author
It was a big day on Sunday for the independent feature film “Boston to Philly.” It won “Best Score” at the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards during a ceremony held at the International House, 37th and Chestnut Street in West Philadelphia.The writer and producer of “Boston2Philly,” Ralph Celestin, who played the role of Boston in the film, describes the movie as “a coming-of-age independent drama that chronicles the life of a young Black male from Boston, struggling with his identity and his ability to form real relationships in his new city, Philadelphia, after a tragic accident takes the lives of his family.”
“I always strove to be an artist, even from a young age I always dabbled in the arts,” said Celestin.
Celestin said that it wasn’t until he became an adult that he gained the confidence to pursue it.“It really just started at home. It just always been ingrained in me that I wanted to have a platform to express myself,” he said.
In previous years, Celestin said that he started writing poetry and was published in a youth poetry anthology.
“From there it was a very easy transition from poetry to writing short stories, to writing pulp stories and from there to writing screen plays,” Celestin said.“Boston2Philly” co-stars Philadelphia’s own Mia Mendez who received rave reviews for her role as Philly in the film and is no stranger to the camera.
“I have been acting professionally for about four years now and started training about six years ago in New York,” said Mendez at the film’s screening on Thursday.
She has performed in a number of web series and independent films since that time.“‘Boston2Philly’ is the first feature film that I’m leading [in] so that’s exciting,” she said.
Mendez credits Celestin for the success of the film and the work it took to get it to its current point.
“The work behind this, as far as editing, making the film really come to life and making sure that it is placed in all of these festivals, is his work, his tirelessly working day and night submitting to these things,” she said.
Television talk host Quincy Harris of Fox 29’s “The Q” said that he and Mendez not only attended Temple University together but went on to work at Power 99 FM and 107.9 FM radio together.
“We have history, I saw her act in one other project maybe three years ago but this one, I’m more than blown away by what I saw today,” said Harris. “Her range was incredible.”
‘Boston2Philly’ was actually a creation of my experience going into the city of Philadelphia,” said Celestin.
Celestin said he originally relocated from Boston to Philadelphia for a job opportunity.“In the film, it’s a love story between Boston and Philly [the lead characters in the film] but in all actuality, I wrote it as a play on words because it truly was [about] the experience of me falling in love with the city of Philadelphia,” he said.
Not only did “Boston2Philly” receive the award for Best Musical Score during the Philadelphia Film Festival Awards but it was also nominated for a host of other awards during the Las Vegas Black Film Festival.“Mia Mendez, myself and the film were nominated for a slew of awards including best director, best actor, best actress and I believe best feature,” said Celestin.
“The exciting part is that Mia was nominated for best actress and she was going up against Loretta Divine, who, as you know, is famous for her performances in ‘Waiting to Exhale’ and the ‘Preachers Wife,’ ” he said.
The film in which Divine was nominated, “Grandma’s House,” was this year’s draw for the festival said Celestin.
Nevertheless it was Mendez who walked away with the Las Vegas Black Film Festival award for Best Actress that night.