The Quintessential Gentleman was given the opportunity to interview Ralph Celestin, an up and coming Boston native filmmaker whose first film, Boston2Philly will be released to streaming on Amazon this week.
Boston2Philly which has already gained awards and nominations at notable film festivals will finally be released to the public.
Boston2Philly is a coming of age story about a young black male who relocates to a new city after a tragic accident. It touches on issues such as the affluenza controversy, racial inequality, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The master behind the piece opened exclusively with me. Recounting how the inspiration of the film stemmed from his actual life and how he traveled from Boston to Philadelphia and how moving to new city with lots of good things. The writing process was naturally inspired. “The words kind of spewed on my paper within a span of 4-5 hours and the Boston2Philly was born.” Ralph, who relocated to Philadelphia, offered a sense of pride in his filmmaking. He felt an obligation to showcase the city in a way that it hasn’t been done before. Ralph mentioned “Philadelphia’s pretty tough reputation outside of the city and a lot of people don’t know what that is. So I took it upon myself to shoulder that the responsibility to showcase in a way that people thought it was beautiful and artistic. “
As if thousands of movies haven’t been made in Philadelphia, Ralph says that his film differs from the rest because “There aren’t too many films that viewers can say is similar to Boston2Philly because we rely on so many different types of genres and the element of spoken word. Because even in musical scene, I made Boston2Philly under the precedent that I wanted it to be different and not easily connected to something else.”
That difference wrapped around the term affluenza. Although it’s not a word thrown around everyday. Ralph better elaborated on it and how it relates to the film. Going on to mention how one can apply this term in the court of law, and the whole idea is that if one is affluent, one is wealthy and rich. They really can’t be held responsible if the person were to break the law, because they’ve never heard the term no. With the faultiness of the justice system, it was shocking that this is an actual term admissible in court. He went on to say the film was basically a teachable moment being that it actually exists and if people were to accept the idea that one can be so wealthy and can’t be held responsible for his or her actions, maybe the idea of reverse affluenza can exist. If someone lived so impoverished in a community or the environment where there’s so much crime around that person, can they really be held responsible if they were to break the law?
It’ll be interesting to see the role affluence takes in Boston2Philly. Stemming from the life of Ralph Celestin himself, the filmmaker has seen his days molding his profession as a poet, to writer, to film and his motivation lies within himself. Ralph doesn’t focus too much on the naysayers. Ralph went on to say “I wouldn’t put too much energy into negativity, I can only say to my fellow artists and to fellow creators, tell a story you want to tell, don’t worry about how anyone else would perceive it.”
Understanding the grind of up an coming artists in all crafts, Ralph expressed some empowering words when it comes to any dream chasers out there. He says, “step back and form a no excuse mentality. Just go out there and get it done. There can’t be any exclusive in terms of age or money. There’s ways around everything once you set your eyes on it and stay determined. So my advice will always be the goal out there and do it without excuses, without giving yourself a crutch, just to take the steps to move forward.”
The ties to the culture and the city of Philadelphia are not the only thing that helped Ralph throughout his life. He went on to explain that Hip-Hop played a large role in the man that he is today. Ralph expressed that rap even today plays a crucial part of his thinking. Ralph went on to say “I think rap is a part of my life. I’m still pretty young, but I’m a student to the game. So I know old school and new school, but I’m not hip to the new generation. I think rap definitely helps with everything from filmmaking to my nine to five. My black love stems from rap.”
The way Ralph spoke on artists like Meek Mill sentencing and J. Coles new album, made it clear that he keeps up with today’s hip hop.
Ralph mentioned that he has a second film that he’s almost finished completing. The film dubbed S.E.L.L.A’s Kitchen is a coming of age drama that ties in with the Haitian American culture and everything it embodies.
Ralph Celestin’s film Boston2Philly will make it’s debut premiere to the public on Amazon this week. Check out the trailer below.