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Pan African Film Festival Screening Reveals Kemba Smith’s Inspiring Journey – ‘KEMBA’ Premieres Feb 22 on BET+ | WATCH

*I had the opportunity to attend the Pan African Film & Art Festival on Tuesday, February 13, at the Cinemark Theater in Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles) for the premiere of “KEMBA,” the true story of Kemba Smith. The spotlight selection of the film, which is set to stream on BET+ starting February 22, drew a diverse audience eager to witness the powerful story unfold.

In “KEMBA,” Smith is a sheltered college student whose life takes a dramatic turn when she falls in love with a man named Khalif. As she delves deeper into their relationship, Kemba discovers Khalif’s true identity as a drug kingpin, leading to a cycle of abuse and manipulation. Despite never being involved in his illegal activities, Kemba finds herself unjustly sentenced due to her association with Khalif. However, with unwavering support from her parents and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Kemba embarks on a journey to appeal her sentence and fight for justice.

“Once those prison doors opened and it took the President [Clinton] to open those prison doors, It was incumbent upon me to continue to speak out for those that are left behind in prison who I felt deserved a second chance as well,” said Kemba.

The film’s screening was followed by a Q&A discussion with Kemba Smith and the director, Kelley Kali, moderated by Brooke Obie. The audience gained valuable insights into the making of the film and how important it is for BET to tell Kemba’s story.

Kemba Smith - screenshot
Kemba Smith – screenshot

“I know how it feels to lose family to things like this due to mandatory minimum sentencing laws that do not take into the consideration the individual, they do not take into the consideration the circumstances in which they were facing… it’s just a blanket law that affects our community the most. That is exactly why I had to direct [Kemba],” said Kelley Kali when asked why she chose to direct “Kemba.”

Featuring a talented cast including Nesta Cooper as Kemba, Siddiq Saunderson as Khalif, and Sean Patrick Thomas as Gus, “KEMBA” offers a gripping portrayal of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Directed by Los Angeles native Kelley Kali, the film captures the essence of Kemba Smith’s remarkable journey with authenticity and compassion.

As the premiere date approaches on February 22nd, exclusively on BET+, anticipation for “KEMBA” continues to build. With its compelling storyline and stellar performances, the film promises to be a must-watch for audiences seeking powerful narratives and thought-provoking storytelling.

To learn more about Kemba Smith, visit Kemba Movie. To sign Michelle West’s petition for clemency, go to Change.org.

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