Sunday, June 23, 2024

Hooray for Cinema of the Diaspora – Get Inspired at Pan African Film & Arts Festival | PHOTOS

PAFF 2024 Banner: Courtesy Photo
PAFF 2024 Banner: Courtesy Photo

*(Los Angeles, CA) — If you are like most people, you are surprised at how fast January rolled through. An equal number of people are excited and glad for February! Love is in the air, now that the rain has subsided in Los Angeles.

Cinephiles, artists, and cultural enthusiasts are in for a memorable experience during the 32nd annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF).

PAFF has returned to the Cinemark Baldwin Hills and XD and the adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to host its renowned fine art show featuring over 100 established and emerging fine artists and quality craftspeople from all over the Black Diaspora. This year’s film festival features over 200 films from 54 countries, in 28 languages, including 68 World and 25 North American premieres. Of the films selected for the festival, 49% are helmed by female, queer or non-binary filmmakers.

For 12 days PAFF will take over the Crenshaw District and make it the center of Black Entertainment in Los Angeles by bringing some of Hollywood’s top Black actors, producers, directors, and influencers to the Cinemark Baldwin Hills and XD Theater.

Now in its 32nd year, PAFF continues to set the standard for showcasing extraordinary films, artistry, and cultural narratives from the African diaspora. The 2024 festival, scheduled to take place from February 6-19, 2024, in Los Angeles, will feature an exceptional selection of films that span genres, cultures, and stories.

PAFF 2024 Signage: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
PAFF 2024 Signage: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

PAFF is at the forefront of a growing trend of recognition and appreciation for the impact of Black film festivals. Filmmakers and studios are increasingly prioritizing the premiering of their films at these culturally driven festivals. This shift underscores the significance and importance of such festivals in celebrating diversity and amplifying Black voices in the world of cinema.

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is thrilled to announce the captivating and diverse lineup for its highly anticipated 2024 edition. As one of the premier events celebrating African and African American cinema and arts, PAFF promises to once again deliver a memorable experience for cinephiles, artists, and cultural enthusiasts.

PAFF continues to be the premiere International Black Film Festival to “Inspire” indie filmmakers and showcase Black cinema from around the world. This year’s festival is bigger and better than ever with three red carpet world premieres including the Opening Night film A Hip Hop Story, starring Affion Crockett, Cedric the Entertainer, Lil Rel Howery, and Wayne Brady, the powerful Ethiopian war film, For the Love of the Mother Land which will screen as the festival Centerpiece, and closing out the festival will be the star-studded Mario Van Peebles directed film Outlaw Posse with a cast of who’s who including film director Mario Van Peebles, Edward James Olmos, Cedric the Entertainment, M. Emmet Walsh, DC Young Fly, and Whoopi Goldberg.

“We are excited to present an incredible lineup for the 2024 Pan African Film & Arts Festival. This year’s films and artistic contributions showcase the richness of the African diaspora, celebrating its history, culture, and creativity,” said Ayuko Babu, Executive Director of PAFF.

Ayuko Babu: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Ayuko Babu: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Black film festivals, like PAFF, have evolved into dynamic platforms that not only celebrate the rich tapestry of Black culture but also serve as launching pads for thought-provoking stories that resonate with global audiences. The decision to premiere films at PAFF reflects a deeper understanding of the unique opportunities they provide for both established and emerging filmmakers.

“PAFF continues to offer an environment where stories rooted in African and African American experiences are not only embraced but celebrated,” said PAFF co-founder Ayuko Babu. “This cultural relevance ensures that films resonate with their intended audience while reaching new and diverse viewers.”

He continued, “Filmmakers recognize that premiering their work at festivals like PAFF allows for meaningful interactions with engaged and passionate audiences who appreciate the power of storytelling. These interactions provide valuable feedback and foster connections between creators and their supporters.”

PAFF general manager Asantewa Olatunji added, “Premiering at a Black film festival can significantly increase a film’s visibility and attract the attention of distributors, industry professionals, and critics. This can lead to wider distribution opportunities, securing a larger audience base.”

For more information about the Pan African Film & Arts Festival, including film schedules, tickets, and event details, please visit https://www.paff.org.

The first weekend of PAFF has concluded. Not before some wonderful programming highlights to kick off the festival.

Thursday, February 8, got underway with All Artists Have a Seat at the Table. PAFF inspired six black artists to transform raw IKEA furniture into unique masterpieces, showcasing the profound connection between creativity and inspiration. Kevin S. Matthews, (Country Area Marketing Manager, IKEA North America) provided opening remarks for this remarkable evening. The program featured a panel discussion with the artists in attendance. The panel featured Jennia Fredrique Aponte’s art piece entitled “Flutter By” Ivar Cabinet, Karen Gibson Ro, artwork entitled The Queen Chair, Zoie Noelle Brogdon, artwork, MAWU LISA and Robert E. Hansen, art piece The Founder’s Chest. The Founder’s Chest honors PAFF Founders- Actor Danny Glover, the late Ja’Net DuBois, and Ayuko Babu, PAFF Executive Director. The panel was moderated by Sol Aponte (Art Melanated). Milton Bowens, Hot Seat-The Redefinition, Ivar Chair and Daphne P. Burgess, Mud Cloth- A Tribute to Color, Pattern, & Texture, Ivar Chair was also on display. Check out this exhibit, located on the 2nd floor, inside of the Museum of African American Art when you visit the mall for the film and arts festival.

IKEA and PAFF Team Members: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
IKEA and PAFF Team Members: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
All Artists Have a Seat at the Table Panel: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
All Artists Have a Seat at the Table Panel: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Everyone is talking about the remake of Sense and Sensibility, a period adaption of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The director, cast, and crew strolled down the Red Carpet before the screening of the movie on Friday, February 9.

Mishael Morgan, Jermaine Love, Deborah Ayorinde and Toni Judkins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Mishael Morgan, Jermaine Love, Deborah Ayorinde and Toni Judkins: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Toni Judkins, Tia A. Smith, Roger Bobb, Deborah Ayorinde and Kara Saun: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Toni Judkins, Tia A. Smith, Roger Bobb, Deborah Ayorinde and Kara Saun: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The PAFF Institute offered attendees insight into various aspects of the entertainment industry. These panel discussions are engaging, educational, entertaining as well as enlightening. Saturday, February 10, the Women in Film Stocker Street Panel consisted of Sherri G. Snead, Moderator with Jessica Sarowitz, Whitney Fuller, She Chapman, Kimrie Lewis, and Landie Maduro.

Women in Film Panelists and Stocker Street Creative Team: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Women in Film Panelists and Stocker Street Creative Team: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Glam Squad featured celebrity hairstylists, makeup stylists, and costume designers. The panel consisted of Anthony Cherry, moderator, Dionne Phillips, Chatwaka Jackson, Stephanie Riley, and Shirlena Allen.

The Glam Squad: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
The Glam Squad: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Black Writers: Mentorship, Fellowships, & Writing for TV, moderated by Mike Gauyo, and featured Andre Ferguson, James Rogers III, Cynthia Adarkwa, and Lizz Bangura.

Mike Gauyo, James Rogers III, Andre Ferguson, Cynthia Adarkwa and Lizz Bangura: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Mike Gauyo, James Rogers III, Andre Ferguson, Cynthia Adarkwa and Lizz Bangura: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Black Showrunners, moderated by Sherick Gums and consisted of Bentley Kyle Evans and Charles Murray.

Bentley Evans, Sharick Gums and Charles Murray: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Bentley Evans, Sharick Gums and Charles Murray: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The final panel that I was able to attend was Young Hollywood: Young Black Trendsetters moderated by Noah Abbott with Darla P. Johns and Cedric “CJ” Joe.

Noah Abbott, Darla P. Johns and Cedric CJ Joe: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson
Noah Abbott, Darla P. Johns and Cedric CJ Joe: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

PAFF Institute ends on Monday, February 19, with additional engaging and thought-provoking panel discussions.

The PAFF Spoken Word Fest, Saturday, February 17th, is another event that the community is looking forward to. PAFF Spoken Word Fest In Collaboration with Diverse Verses LA. – (Paul Mabon, Kooki, Philosophy, DJ S.O.U.L- O, Marcheta, and Quan the Poet). Featured poets are longtime actress Iona Morris Jackson, writer, sociologist, and womanist Nikki Blak, and Grammy-nominated artist and 2X Poetry Slam Champion Sekou Andrews!

Spoken Word artists featured are Miss Gia Scott-Heron, Beachcity Poetress, Andrea the Poet, Anthony Crespo, Nobody Flowers, Queen Quannie, Michael Maitre, Tyler Bradley, Paris Nicole, Professor X, Larry Love, Milissajoi, Uraeus, MaiJoi and Jaz.

Spoken Word Fest will honor legendary poets Tuesday Conner and Tony Award-winning poet Poetri!

You don’t want to miss the annual PAFF Fashion Show, on Sunday, February 18. This popular showcase of wearable Art on the Move! This is a beautiful “tour de force” in high fashion with an Afro-touch. Designers as well as others are inspired after attending the fashion show. It is my understanding, that you, the general public, can be the first person on your block that will be able to walk away, (purchase) these unique wearable arts.

Get ready for a marathon, binge-viewing of wonderful movies from the African diaspora. The 2024 Pan African Film & Arts Festival invites film enthusiasts, artists, scholars, and the public at large to celebrate the magic of storytelling through film and art. PAFF remains committed to fostering cultural exchange and promoting diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

For more information about the Pan African Film & Arts Festival, including film schedules, tickets, and event details, please visit https://www.paff.org.

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California-based music reviewer, writer, and photographer. Contact him via: l[email protected]

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