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‘Black Panthers’ to headline Pan African film fest

LOS ANGELES – Stanley Nelson’s “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” will make its West Coast premiere Feb. 5 during the 23rd annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival at RAVE Cinemas 15 in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The film marks the official opening of the 12-day festival that will feature more than 150 films, shorts and documentaries, organizers said.

“The issues that the Black Panther Party and other black power organizations dealt with in the 1960s continue to be the major issues confronting the black community today,” said PAFF founder and Executive Director Ayuko Babu.

“The film is an entertaining must-see for all who are looking to better understand where we are at this historical moment and where we might go in the future,” he added. “This film is right on time.”

The festival – considered the world’s largest gathering of black filmmakers, artists and other creative types – also will feature panel discussions, sponsored events and more than 100 artists and craft persons, organizers said.

Held Feb. 5-16, the festival will feature “Triangle-Going to America” as its centerpiece film and “The Man in 3B” as its closing night film.

The opening night film, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” looks at the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party and how the organization influenced how African-Americans see themselves today.

The film is the first feature-length documentary to showcase the Black Panther Party, its significance in American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails, film executives said.

More than 40 years after the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, California, the group and its leadership remain powerful and enduring figures in our popular imagination, organizers said.

“Triangle-Going to America,” meanwhile, addresses the issue of immigration, the topic of many recent news reports and headlines, including President Obama taking new steps to fix America’s broken immigration system.

The film explores how each year, hundreds of Africans from Ethiopia, Eritrea and throughout the African continent leave their countries to journey across the world in hopes of coming to America.

“Immigration is not just an issue in the Latino community, but also affects the black communities in the U.S. and Europe,” Babu said. “At PAFF, we always want to stay current with today’s domestic and international issues and be entertaining at the same time. Triangle fits into this vision.”

The closing night film, “The Man in 3B,” is a romantic comedy that sheds light on black relationships and black culture, organizers said. Featuring a star-studded cast that includes Lamman Rucker, Billy D. Williams, Jackee Harry and Marla Gibbs, the film focuses on an apartment tenant who every woman wants and every man wants to be.

“PAFF loves to showcase films like The Man in 3B. There is an interesting twist in the storyline which is not usually found in romantic comedies,” Babu said. “This film is entertaining and gives us insight into ourselves and encourages attitudes that are important to our development, which makes this the perfect closing night film at PAFF.”

The festival also will feature an awards program honoring key industry players and rising stars in the film industry. Previous recipients include Forest Whitaker, Alfre Woodard, Idris Elba, Sidney Poitier, Omari Hardwick, Phylicia Rashad, David Oyelowo, Taraji P. Henson and scores of other industry professionals, both in front of and behind the camera.

For more information on the festival, including screening schedule and events, visit www.PAFF.org.