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Pan African Film Festival continues to remap and remix the ecosystem of filmmakers of the world

2 mins read

As the largest Black filmmaker showcase in the Americas, the Pan African Film Festival is a signature festival fusing Black film, culture, performing arts and education. 

1992 is a landmark year etched in the memory of Black Los Angeles. As residents began to clean up the social and political debris from the fallout of the Rodney King case, they also had to rise from the ashes of the city’s civil unrest.

Out of the uprising, a long list of programs popped up offering answers to quell generations of inequities and racial tensions in the multi-racial metropolis. Most died. However the Pan African Film Festival, birthed in 1992, the same year Los Angeles burned, remained. Running from February 12 to the 23 at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills, the cineplex next to the Crenshaw Baldwin Hills mall.

Started by four industry friends—Ja’Net DuBois, Danny Glover and Ayuko Bayu—it is the only event that features films and Black artists across the US, Africa and its diaspora in a multi-day event. Noted as the largest Black film festival in the Americas, it screens over 150 new films and 100-plus fine artists and craft persons from all over the world.

Pan African Film Festival feature: The Last Black Man of San Francisco

“Ayuko Babu and his incredible staff year in, year out presents such an extraordinary package of films,” said Glover in an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel. “It’s unlike a lot of film festivals you go to.”

“Just normal, regular people, citizens of Los Angeles, citizens of that community in which the festival has its home; come and see and be a part of our extended family and increasingly extended family.”

Glover stars in the film, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” a movie featured in the festival. 

Rebirthing Black filmmakers

The PAFF has been the go-to for many Black filmmakers when their work goes unsupported or unreceived by Hollywood, even when it’s made in a large production studio. Movies such as Black Panther, Love & Basketball and Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, ran special screenings or debuted. As well, PAFF ushered in a larger audience for the African lens with its features from Francophone Africa, Nollywood in Nigeria and Ghana, as well as, South African films.

Pan African Film Festival Institute

Another aspect of the festival is the marketplace hosting dozens of artisans and live shows featuring spoken word artists and singers. Added to the event is an institute for emerging filmmakers to build technique and knowledge of the businesses. For more information and tickets, visit the PAFF website. Tell them that Ark Republic sent you.

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