Pan African Film Fest To Kick Off Thursday in Los Angeles
by Rania Richardson
The 12th-annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) is set to run February 5-16 in Los Angeles. As the largest black film festival in the country, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival will screen more than 160 films selected from countries including Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Uganda, and the United States.
Opening night will kick off with "Redemption" by actor and filmmaker Vondie Curtis-Hall. The film is the true-life story of Stan "Tookie" Williams, co-founder of the Crips street gang whose time in jail led to redirecting his life towards steering inner-city youth away from violence. The film recently debuted at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Making its U.S. premiere as the festival's centerpiece will be Norman Maake's "Soldiers of the Rock" from South Africa, the story of a student who takes a vacation job in a gold mine and tries to empower his fellow miners to overcome their fear of success leftover from years of Apartheid. The event's closing night festivities will feature Rick Elgood and Don Letts' "One Love," a music-filled Jamaican love story starring Ky-Mani Marley, son of the late Bob Marley.
Subjects for the diverse set of documentaries to be screened include a samba school ("Empress of Carnival"), a Venezuelan coup ("The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"), black firefighters who died on 9/11 ("11 Our Sons"), an African-American enclave on Martha's Vineyard ("A Place of Our Own"), the hip-hop music industry ("Hip-Hop Immortals"), Haitian freedom fighter Jean Dominique ("The Agronomist"), and the San people of the Kalahari ("Cosmic Africa"). Feature films set to screen include "City of God," "White Teeth," "James' Journey to Jerusalem," "Lost in the USA," "Dark," and dozens more.
Panels and workshops will discuss a range of topics such as film investors, Hollywood couples, and the image of Islam in America." Multi-day, hands-on workshops will include editing and writing programs. Ayuko Babu, executive director of the festival, will moderate the Night of Tribute, where Melvin van Peebles will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and Paris Barclay and Larcine Bland will also be honored. The honorees and guest Mario Van Peebles will be on hand for a special discussion. Events for children and students are also part of the festivities.
[ For more information and a full schedule with locations, please visit: http://www.paff.org. ]