Director Matthew Cherry stayed in familiar territory with his feature film debut, "The Last Fall." The opening film at this year's Roxbury International Film Festival, it strives to show another side of the professional athlete.

"People think because you made it to the NFL you are a millionaire," says Cherry. "But the reality is that only 4 percent of players have careers that last longer than four years; 96 percent of players are retired in their mid-20s and they are trying to figure out the rest of their life. I wanted to show that untold story."

"The Last Fall" tells the story of Kyle Bishop, a pro football player who gets cut from his latest team. Forced to return to his hometown, Kyle (played by Lance Gross) tries to make sense of his life without football. It's a story Cherry knows all too well. After playing on four different teams in three years, he saw himself facing life as a journeyman player and decided to make a change. Using his degree in radio and television production from the Uni-versity of Akron, he moved to L.A. and started working on the sets of shows like "Heroes" and "Girlfriends" to learn the ropes. He soon jumped from the crew to the director's chair and built a name making creative visuals for artists like Common and Jazmine Sullivan.

The film has been received well on the festival circuit, but what about the guys in the NFL?


"There's been amazing feedback from NFL players," says Cherry. "That was my biggest concern: 'Would the players receive it?' But it's a real story, and it came from the bottom of my heart. ... More players go through [it] than I initially thought. Showing it at SXSW and in Atlanta, we have always had two or three players at every screening; guys from all levels. From superstars to guys who were similar to me, and they could relate to it."

First and goal

The opening reception for the Roxbury Film Festival is tonight at 6 at the National Center of Afro-American Artists (300 Walnut Ave., Roxbury). The screening of "The Last Fall" will be tomorrow night at 7 at the Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave., Boston). Director Matthew Cherry will be in attendance to answer questions.

If you go

The 14th annual Roxbury International Film Festival

Tonight through June 17

Various locations

$9-$135, 617-792-6155
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