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8 African Films nab an award at the Pan African Film Festival

February 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

8 African Films nab an award at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF). Winners were announced at the PAFF filmmakers awards today during a brunch ceremony at Locals Sports Bar & Grill in Los Angeles. PAFF, America’s largest and most prestigious international Black film festival took place from February 16 to 23, 2011 at the Culver Plaza Theatre. The festival will end its run tonight with the closing film, “DWB: Dating While Black,” written, directed and produced by Van Elder.

The festival selected a total of 121 films, representing 31 countries, 75 feature length films (narrative and documentaries) and 46 short films. The festival handed out prizes for Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Narrative Feature, and Best First Feature Film, as well as audience favorite awards.
Themed, “Experience Your World,” PAFF wanted to take its movie goers on a cinematic journey with screenings from around the world – that is, such countries as Angola, Austria, Bermuda, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, South African, Nigeria, and of course, the United States. PAFF hopes these films with global appeal will open the minds of its audiences, and transport them to lands far away and back home again … without ever packing a suitcase.

And without further ado, the winners are:
Best Picture (Narrative Feature)
Besouro (Brazil), directed by João Daniel Tikhomiroff

Honorable Mention:
The Athlete (Atletu) (Ethiopia), directed by Davey Frankel & Rasselas Lakew

Best Documentary Feature
Thunder Soul (USA), directed by Mark Landsman

Honorable Mention:
War Don Don (USA), directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen

Best Short Film (Narrative Short)
The Abyss Boys (South Africa), directed by Jan-Hendrik Beetge

Honorable Mention:
Hear Me (USA), directed by Kenn Michael

First Feature Film by a Director (Narrative Feature)
I Will Follow (USA), directed by Ava DuVernay

Honorable Mention:
Hopeville (South Africa), directed by John Trengove

Audience Award Narrative Feature
The First Grader (Kenya/UK), directed by Justin Chadwick

Audience Award Documentary Feature Film (Documentary Feature)
Gang Girl: A Mother’s Journey to Save her Daughter (USA), directed by Valerie Goodloe

Audience Award Short Film
The Black Mozart in Cuba (Guadeloupe), directed by Steve James

Pan African Film Festival Board of Directors Awards

Best Short Film
Precipice (UK), directed by Julius Amedume

Best Documentary Film
The Manuscripts of Timbuktu (South Africa), directed by Zola Maseko

Best Feature Film (Best Feature Narrative)
Viva Riva! (DRCongo/France/Belgium/South Africa), directed by Djo Tunda Wa Munga

Honorable Mention:
The Child, (Nigeria), directed by Izu Ojukwu
The Figurine (Nigeria), directed by Kunle Afolayan

Pan African Film Festival-British Academy of Film and Television Arts/LA (BAFTA/LA)
Festival Choice Award
I Sing of a Well (Ghana), directed by Leila Djansi

The 2011 Pan African Film Festival is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Los Angeles County Arts Fund, Macy’s, Wells Fargo Bank, Sony Pictures Entertainment, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and the Africa Channel.

For more information, please visit www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.

About the Pan African Film Festival
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival, is gearing up for its 19th year of screening more than 100 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.

PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as the busybody neighbor Willona in the tv series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in African Affairs. PAFF is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art and creative expression.

The goal of PAFF is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience. PAFF believes film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time, serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

African Vibes at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) opening scene

February 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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African Vibes Magazine's Amabel Niba and PAAF's Ayuko Babu

It was raining and pouring but Los Angeles film makers, celebrities, city officials and media came out among others to show their strong support for the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) on Thursday night. Guests graced the Director’s Guild of America where the opening event was hosted, with their beautiful and colorful outfits. Among the guests was African Vibes Magazine Editorial Director, Amabel Niba.

The evening was kicked off by Ayuko Babu, PAFF’s founder, and hosted by the charismatic and ever so charming Blair Underwood.  Marla Gibbs was given the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award with a fun acceptance speech asking Babu to rename the award because she was not done yet. Also honored was Actor Omar Benson Miller (“Miracle at St. Anna”) for PAFF’s Canada Lee Award. The funny actor left the podium saying “I do not want to be one of those actors who are disillusioned by Hollywood. Instead of letting Hollywood work me, I will work Hollywood”.

Actor Blaire Underwood and African Vibes Magazine's Amabel Niba

Actor Blaire Underwood and African Vibes Magazine's Amabel Niba

California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass flew in from Sacramento where she and her colleagues were working hard to get a very late state budget together, so she could be at this event. She was recognized for her commitment to supporting the exhibition of film, art and creative expression with the Community Service Award. Also awarded for her support and commitment to the festival was South Africa Consulate General  Honorable Jeanette Ndhlovu who made guests laugh when she told everyone that Blaire Underwood had made a commitment to go Shark diving in South Africa. A scary prospect for such a favorite among women but a good faith gesture all the same.

Designer Dearra poses with African Vibes Magazine's Amabel Niba

Designer Dearra poses with African Vibes Magazine's Amabel Niba

After the awards was a screening of the movie “Jerusalema”. When asked about her impression of the festival and opening movie, African Vibes Editorial Director said “This festival is so necessary. You can tell from the fliers and filmmakers who are here tonight and promoting their films, that they have worked really hard. We need to come out and show our support for them by watching their movies. We all owe our gratitude to Babu and his team for making it possible for black fim-makers from all over to expose their work, in effect sharing our stories with the community.

“As far as Jerusalema is concerned, I think Ralph Zinman made me proud. The story was engaging even though it was a little longer than I expected.  Rapulana Seiphemo played his character, Lucky Kunene, quite convincingly. South Africa is definitely taking the lead in film-making with films that can truly compete with the West; a reminder that the world has gotten smaller. I am sure there are many African filmmakers who are hot on the heels of Hollywood, working with less but making the most out of the tools and finance they have to produce some compelling films.”

Niba’s statement rings true indeed and can be seen in the diverse story telling of the filmmakers who made submissions this year. After the screening, film makers wasted no time in promoting their movies and encouraging guests and media representatives to screen them. The evening progressed with buffet style dinner, cocktails and a live music presentation from George Clinton’s band. Overall the night was a success and a reminder that the success of those telling our stories need the support of the community; our support.

PAFF SCREENING DATES

South African film takes the lead at the 2009 Pan African Film Festival

January 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Pan African Film and Arts festival is here once again and opening this year’s festival is the acclaimed South African drama “Jerusalema” directed by Ralph Zinman at the star-studded red carpet opening night celebration on February 5th. The movie is about character Lucky Kunene who moves o the rough-and-tumble Hillbrow section of Johannesburg and transforms himself nto a real-estate crime boss even as he tries to elude determined white cop Blakkie Swart, vengeful renegade Nazareth Mbolelo and Nigerian drug lord Tony Ngu.

PAFF is America’s largest and most prestigious flagship black film and arts festival and will take place February 5-16, 2009. With over 2,500 submissions, the 2009 PAFF features films from 42 countries and boasts a record attendance now topping a quarter of a million attendees over its twelve-day run. The festival has announced a change of venue to accommodate its ever-growing audience for its film festival to the Culver Plaza Theatres (9919 Washington Boulevard). The PAFF Art Market, a highly anticipated and celebrated major exhibit of black fine art and quality crafts featuring the work of over 100 different artists and artisans, will remain at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (3650 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.). For more information and access to PAFF’s online box office, please visit www.paff.org.

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

Happy Sad (2008/Trinidad & Tobago/105min)
Dir: Dianah Wynter
After her mother is sent to prison, profound changes occur in the lives of several people when 17-year-old Mandy Graham goes to live with her father’s dysfunctional family who she never knew. Soon passions are unleashed, laying bare souls and revealing long hidden secrets.

Joséphine (Le Mystère Joséphine) (2008/Martinique/142min)
Dir: Christian Lara
When a young history professor arrives in Martinique to research her doctoral thesis on Joséphine, Napoleon’s wife, she finds two conflicting death certificates which cast doubt on Joséphine’s true identity.

Nobody Smiling (2008/US/83min)
Dir: Jamal Dedeaux
A college teacher returns home to bury his murdered brother. While wrapping up his brother’s affairs, he is assaulted by gang members who give him 24 hours to pay his brother’s substantial debt. Given little choice, he is pulled into a world of illegal drugs, arms deals, gangsters and underground pornography.

Prince of Broadway (2008/US/102min)
Dir: Sean Baker

The lives of two immigrants converge in the seedy side of New York’s wholesale district. Selling knock-off designer merchandise, Lucky’s world is turned upside down when a child is thrust into his life, while Levon struggles to save a marriage that is falling apart.

Rain (2008/Bahamas/93min)
Dir: Maria Govan

When her grandmother dies, a girl goes to live in Nassau with the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler. As her mother’s destructive lifestyle becomes evident, the girl must struggle to find her own place in the world. Stars CCH Pounder and Calvin Lockhart.

Run Baby Run (2007/Ghana/117min)
Dir: Emmanuel Apea Jr.

Set against the backdrop of drug dealing and trafficking, a London-based student gets mixed up in the drug trade when his visiting little sister picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. A dramedy in which the repercussions of a bad decision result in a frantic rescue throughout the Ghanaian countryside. Best Feature, AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards).

Sex, Gumbo & Salted Butter (Sexe, Gombo et Beurre Salé) (2008/France/81min)
Dir: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

The story takes place in the African community in Bordeaux, France. Sexual issues, loneliness, tradition and modernity, interracial relationships, conflict of generations…all are depicted humorously.

Stolen Kisses (Kobolat Masroka) (2008/Egypt/120min)
Dir: Khaled el Hagar

The most watched film in Egypt, Stolen Kisses is a film about the challenges faced by today’s youth. Exploring unemployment, sexual frustration, prostitution, and violence in Cairo, its progressive approach made it the number one box office film in Egypt in 2008. Winner of 8 international awards.

Yellow House, The (La Maison Jaune) (2007/Algeria/France/89min)
Dir: Hakkar Amor

After the death of his son in military service, a farmer journeys to collect the body. Upon his return, he realizes his wife has become withdrawn. Fearing her inability to overcome depression, he tries everything to bring a smile back to her face.

Zimbabwe (2008/South Africa/84min)
Dir: Darrell Roodt

A young girl named Zimbabwe finds that life gets even tougher in rural Zimbabwe after the death of her mother from an AIDS-related disease. Not only are she and her brother now orphaned, but she has her orphaned niece to look after and the village Chief tells her they must leave, that they can no longer support them.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Black Candle, The (2008/US/71min)
Dir: M.K. Asante Jr.

A landmark documentary uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore the African-American experience. Narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by award-winning author and filmmaker M.K. Asante, Jr. (“500 Years”), this extraordinary, inspirational story celebrates the struggle and triumph of African-American family, community, and culture. Appearances by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Chuck D., Jim Brown, Amiri Baraka and Stic.Man of Dead Prez.

Cuba, an African Odyssey (France/118min)
Dir: Jihan El-Tahri

A chronicle of the crucial role that Cuba played in securing the independence of nations throughout Africa. At the very height of the Cold War, Cuba risked the enmity of both superpowers by its unwavering commitment to the principle that Africa should be governed by the genuine representatives of its peoples. Cuba provided invaluable support to liberation struggles throughout the continent. The film focuses on Cuban efforts in Congo, Guinea-Bissau and during the war in Angola. It reveals incredible events that span thirty years, from Che Guevara’s covert mission to avenge the death of Patrice Lumumba, to Fidel Castro’s command of the decisive battle in Angola and the negotiations with Apartheid South Africa that finally ended the war.

End of Poverty?, The (2008/US/104min)
Dir: Philippe Diaz

A phenomenal discourse on why poverty persists and why the majority of the world’s people live without adequate shelter, food, clothing and little to no access to medical care and education. A must see for anyone wanting to understand not only the US economic system but the foundations of today’s global economy. Narrated by Martin Sheen.

Kassim the Dream (2008/Uganda/US/88min)
Dir: Kief Davidson

Born in Uganda, abducted as a child and forced to become a soldier, Kassim finds his ticket to freedom through boxing. Coming to the U.S., he finds the American dream after becoming the Junior Middleweight Champion of the world.

Milking the Rhino (2008/US/83min)
Dir: David E. Simpson

With memorable characters and spectacular locations, MILKING THE RHINO tells joyful, penetrating and heartbreaking stories from Kenya and Namibia – revealing the high stakes obstacles facing Community Conservation today.

Nubian Spirit: The African Legacy of the Nile Valley (2008/Sudan/UK/73min)
Dir: Louis Buckley

A beautifully photographed documentary revealing the contribution of Ancient Sudan (Nubia) to the culture, history and spiritual mythology of the people from the Nile Valley.

Number One with a Bullet (2008/US/105min)
Dir: Jim Dziura

A thoughtful and informative study of the current violence engulfing Urban America seen through the eyes of many of today’s biggest rappers, many of whom have been victims of violence. Interviews with Ice Cube, Mos Def, Young Buck, KRS-One, Jerry Heller among others.

Peace Mission (2008/Germany/80min)
Dir: Dorothee Wenner

In Nigeria, a whole new film industry developed during the early 1990s. With over 1,400 films produced each year, “Nollywood” is statistically the biggest film industry in the world. Peace Anyiam Fiberesima, the founder of the African Movie Academy, takes the audience on a tour of the vibrant production hub of Lagos and introduces key personalities of Nollywood along the way. Versatile and full of energy, they all share the vision of making Nollywood an important platform for re-telling Africa’s history from an African point of view.

Standing-n-Truth: Breaking the Silence (2008/US/78min)
Dir: Tim Daniels

Transcending differences of sexuality, class and gender, the intimate experiences of stigma, shame and silence of men, women and children living in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are punctuated by interviews with an array of popular-opinion leaders including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Michael Eric Dyson and Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North (2008/US/86min)
Dir: Katrina Browne, Alla Kovgan & Jude Ray

Filmmaker Katrina Browne’s discovery that her New England ancestors were America’s largest slave-trading family compels her into an intriguing and emotional exploration of the legacy of slavery.

NARRATIVE SHORT COMPETITION

Dockweiler (2008/US/15min)
Dir: Nick J. Palmer

An ex-con heads up maintenance at Dockweiler Beach, seeing himself as a savior to the men he hires. Stars Tony Todd.

Happy Anniversary, Punk! (2007/US/30min)
Dir: Michael Ajakwe Jr.

Teen violence and the failure of the justice system form the center of this adaptation of an acclaimed one-act play.

Jump the Broom: A Musical (2008/US/32min)
Dir: Kena Tangi Dorsey

This refreshingly creative musical finds a woman about to be married having second thoughts when her rascal of an ex shows up at the church just before the wedding.

Kwame (2008/Ghana/US/25min)
Dir: Edward Osei-Gyimah

A Ghanaian cabdriver comes to terms with the reasons he immigrated to America.

Nora (2008/US/35min)
Dir: Alla Kovgan & David Hinton

A filmic journey into the life of Nora Chipaumire, choreographer and performance artist from Zimbabwe.

Panty Man, The (2008/US/6min)
Dir: Camrin Pitts

Set in the moody blues atmosphere of an underground poetry club, a married man admits his fetish for womens panties.

Premature (2008/US/15min)
Dir: Rashaad Ernesto Green

A streetwise teenager discovers she’s pregnant. Receiving no support from her community, she has nowhere to turn and is faced with the most difficult decision she will ever make.

Put it in a Book (2008/US/18min)
Dir: Rodrigo Garcia

“Put It in a Book” is about two brothers: when one is killed by gang violence, the other must choose between two paths, one of righteousness or one of revenge.

Second Half, The (2008/US/20min)
Dir: Jeffrey Elmont

To save the future of a young B-ball player, a former player now working as a janitor must come out of the shadows.

Seven Breaths (2008/US/19min)
Dir: Gershon Hinkson

Embarking on a mission to find the thief, the victim of an armed robbery finds his moral path has become blurred.

Tight Jeans (2007/UK/9min)
Dir: Destiny Ekaragha

As they sit on a fence waiting for their buddy, a comedic debate about race and culture is sparked between three Black teens when a white man wearing tight jeans passes by.

Warrior Queen (2008/Ghana/22min)
Dir: Hezekiah Lewis

With the King exiled, Queen Asantewa becomes the strength and protector of her homeland, fearlessly leading her people against British rule and proving that preserving one’s culture and tradition ensures its identity and pride.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT COMPETITION

4 Our Sons (2008/Bermuda/US/82min)
Dir: Vanz Chapman & Eric McKay

Young Black men from different walks of life speak on growing up Black and male in an oftentimes hostile inner city environment. With strength and perseverance they were able to build their own versions of the American dream. An empowering must see for Black youth.

African Underground: Democracy in Dakar (2008/Senegal/France/US/65min)
Dir: Ben Herson, Chris Moore & Magee McIlvaine

Bridging the gap between hip-hop activism and video journalism, this groundbreaking documentary explores the role of youth and musical activism on the political process during recent presidential elections in Senegal.

Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Radio (2008/US/65min)
Dir: U-Savior

An examination of the rise and fall of Black Radio discusses the many aspects that made it unique as an art form. Features interviews with prominent individuals in media and Black culture and rare air checks by some of the most famous Black jocks of all time.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (2008/US/68min)
Dir: Dawn Logsdon & Lolis Eric Elie

The Tremé district of New Orleans is arguably the oldest black community in America…the birthplace of the Southern Civil Rights movement as well as the home of jazz. This fascinating historical tour of the Tremé becomes a riveting tale of hope, heartbreak and resilience, especially in light of Katrina.

Has God Forsaken Africa? (2008/Canada/52min)
Dir: Musa Dieng Kala

Each year, thousands of young Africans risk their lives to flee a continent scourged by war and endemic poverty.

It’s Time: African Women Join Hands Against Domestic Violence (2008/Canada/53min)
Dir: Steven Hunt

In a unique partnership, a Canadian agency and two African organizations work to combat the epidemic of domestic violence toward women and girls in South Africa and Ethiopia.

Neo African Americans, The (2008/US/58min)
Dir: Kobina Aidoo

The African American narrative is rapidly being transformed by immigration from Africa and the Caribbean.

Sampari (2008/France/52min)
Dir: Damien Faure & Jerome Bonnard

Every year indigenous leaders from the world over travel to New York to participate in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Viktor Kaisiepo comes to defend the rights of his people of Western Papua, who have been colonized by Indonesia since 1969.

Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968 (2009/US/57min)
Dir: Judy Richardson & Bestor Cram

Over-shadowed by the killing of four white students at Kent State, the little-remembered police attack on South Carolina State College resulting in the murders of three black students is scrupulously researched, offering the definitive account of one of the bloodiest tragedies of the Civil Rights era.

Tulia, Texas (2008/US/54min)
Dir: Cassandra Herrman & Kelly Whalen

A lone undercover cop causes forty-six people, nearly all Black, to be arrested for selling cocaine in a small farming town. It was heralded as one of the biggest drug busts in Texas history, until a team of lawyers set out to uncover the truth.

BEST FIRST FEATURE

13 Months of Sunshine (2008/Ethiopia/US/101min)
Dir: Yehdego Abeselom

The American dream and the immigrant experience collide in this heartwarming comedy focusing on the romance between two Ethiopian immigrants.

Family (2008/US/113min)
Dir: Faith Trimel

A coming-of-age dramedy centering on the lives of a group of lesbian friends who all experience continual strife in their lives as a result of being closeted, causing them to make a pact to come out together.

Happy Sad (2008/Trinidad & Tobago/105min)
Dir: Dianah Wynter

After her mother is sent to prison, profound changes occur in the lives of several people when 17-year-old Mandy Graham goes to live with her father’s dysfunctional family who she never knew. Soon passions are unleashed, laying bare souls and revealing long hidden secrets.

Nobody Smiling (2008/US/83min)
Dir: Jamal Dedeaux

A college teacher returns home to bury his murdered brother. While wrapping up his brother’s affairs, he is assaulted by gang members who give him 24 hours to pay his brother’s substantial debt. Given little choice, he is pulled into a world of illegal drugs, arms deals, gangsters and underground pornography.

Rain (2008/Bahamas/93min)
Dir: Maria Govan

When her grandmother dies, a girl goes to live in Nassau with the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler. As her mother’s destructive lifestyle becomes evident, the girl must struggle to find her own place in the world. Stars CCH Pounder and Calvin Lockhart.

Run Baby Run (2007/Ghana/117min)
Dir: Emmanuel Apea Jr.

Set against the backdrop of drug dealing and trafficking, a London-based student gets mixed up in the drug trade when his visiting little sister picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. A dramedy in which the repercussions of a bad decision result in a frantic rescue throughout the Ghanaian countryside. Best Feature, AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards).

Unequal (2009/US/94min)
Dir: John G. White

Due to her very vocal and public stance on celebrating the virtues not only of being celibate, but a virgin who’s “saving herself for marriage”, Candace becomes playboy Urban’s newest challenge. But will the hunter get captured by the game?

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