The 28th Pan African Film Festival was a 12-day celebration of films, panels, special events and art exhibitions that concluded earlier this week on February 19.
The festival was established in 1992 by Ja’Net DuBois (Good Times), Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu, who serves as executive director. PAFF’s founders created it with the goal of showcasing a broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes.
NewsOne talked to Babu, who says that while the festival has been successful sense its inception, is has experienced continual growth. The inaugural seven-day festival has expanded from to twelve days, and from screening 75 films to about 150 films.
“Our people are extremely interested in telling our stories from around the word,” said Babu. “We knew if we had a sophisticated and visible platform, people would come. “
The film portion of PAFF features the work of both established and new filmmakers. Audiences this year enjoyed films such as Borders (or Frontières, a funny, yet tragic, West African female road trip), Cargo (an examination of human smuggling and the world’s refugee crisis from a very local perspective), Giants of Africa (about Masai Ujiri, president of the Toronto Raptors, on a journey of philanthropy and inspiration), Royal Habiscus Hotel (a Nollywood romantic comedy about an aspiring restaurateur at her family’s hotel) and Behind The Movement (a unique and fast-paced retelling of the Montgomery Bus Boycott). There was also an early journey to Wakanda, with an advance screening of Marvel’s Black Panther.
The festival, held at Los Angeles’s Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, included an Art Fest, with exhibitions on pan-African fashion, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, and home décor items. The #Talk4Reel panel series featured conversations with filmmakers and artists who aim to move the culture forward. Artists and filmmakers hailed from the United States, the Bahamas, Australia, Rwanda, the Middle East, Liberia, Ethiopia, Haiti and more.
Babu says he wants the festival to display Blackness in all its complexities, but to also be entertaining. “Our business is to show who we are and what we are,” he explained. “The key is you have to have entertainment with consciousness.”