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
The Athlete (Atletu) (Ethiopia), directed by Davey Frankel & Rasselas Lakew
Best Documentary Feature
Thunder Soul (USA), directed by Mark Landsman
War Don Don (USA), directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen
Best Short Film (Narrative Short)
The Abyss Boys (South Africa), directed by Jan-Hendrik Beetge
Hear Me (USA), directed by Kenn Michael
First Feature Film by a Director (Narrative Feature)
I Will Follow (USA), directed by Ava DuVernay
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
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.
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”.
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.
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