“Snowfall” cast poses at PAFF’s red carpet event. Photo courtesy of PAFF.
This year, the Pan African Film Festival began April 19 instead of February. The change is due, in part, because of COVID-19 and the addition of a virtual component to the festival, which is now celebrating its 30th year.
After 28 years of in-person celebration, the Pan-African Film Festival began using streaming technology, which had the effect of increasing the festival’s participation while reaching a greater share of the global audience.
This year’s presentation brings a hybrid of in-person screenings and events and virtual.
Below find a listing of PAFF’s must see films highlighting a wide-range of interests and issues for your viewing pleasure.
Juwa: Years after a traumatic night, a son and a mother are finally reunited. But the long suppressed trauma of that tragic night must be unwrapped, exposing layers of guilt, anger and abandonment but ultimately redefining what mother and son mean to each other. Shot in Belgium and in Congo, a subtlety powerful drama based on African characters rarely seen on screens.
Black As U R: May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer igniting protests around the globe. As Black Americans were chanting “Black Lives Matter,” in Minneapolis, a trans teenager was brutally attacked by a mob just blocks away. In 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the state’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill [or what its opponents call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill]. Nearly a dozen states are considering similar new legislation.
Documentarian Micheal Rice takes the audience on a journey through the homophobia that characterizes many spaces, through an autobiographical look into his own upbringing. Black As U R confronts the Black community about queerphobia by amplifying stories of LGBTQ+ Black people.
Cuba In Africa: The dramatic untold story of 420,000 Cubans — soldiers and teachers, doctors and nurses — who gave everything to end colonial rule and apartheid in Southern Africa.
The Affected: We Got This: Journalism/communications students from USC Annenberg and Xavier University of New Orleans collaborated on this short doc showcasing the range of emotions from a group of multicultural college students during the pandemic. Although many students are still processing the collective disruptions to their collegiate experience over the past two years, the one thing both groups know for sure is: We Got This! https://paff.eventive.org/films/we-got-this
Camp Yoshi: Driven by the magic of his experiences, his background as a chef, and his love of good food and connecting people to incredible places that open up to conversation, Rashad Frazier created Camp Yoshi, which curates custom outdoor adventures centered around shared meals and shared experience with the goal of creating a space for Black people to unplug and reconnect with nature.
Race Today: Race Today is a film by Wayne G Saunders, a filmmaker who was born at the time when Race Today the journal was establishing itself as a serious political voice in the Black community. The film features heroes such as the late Darcus Howe, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Farrukh Dhondy, Leila Hassan, Jean Ambrose and many more. Race Today members speak candidly about their lives and what the future looks like for the youth of today.
Tales of the Accidental City: In this hilarious and biting film, an eclectic group of people living in Nairobi gathers over Zoom for a court-ordered anger management class. As they swap stories and trade barbs, deeper issues about social justice and the inequalities of living in urban African centers come to light.
Subjects of Desire: A significant exploration of the cultural shift in North American beauty standards towards embracing Black female aesthetics and features while exposing the deliberate and often dangerous portrayals of Black women in the media. Partially set at the 50th anniversary of the Miss Black America Pageant, a beauty pageant created as a political protest, this provocative presentation is told from the POV of women who aren’t afraid to challenge conventional beauty standards and deconstruct what we understand about race and the power behind beauty.
Love, Longing, Loss: At Home with Charles Lloyd During a Year of the Plague: This long period of COVID-19 has been a trial and a revelation. A time of reflection and resourcefulness. Filmed over the course of several months using iPhone and Lumix cameras and a portable Zoom recorder, the film provides a rare and intimate insight into the artistry of Charles Lloyd — including his reflections on music, solitude, resistance, social injustice and his ancestry, as well as solo performances.
30th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival and filmmaker Q&As.
Time: Various times, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. now through May 1
Cost: $50 and up
Venue: Virtual and at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 3650 W Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd,, Los Angeles