By Marie Y. Lemelle
CRENSHAW — For 26 years, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival has consistently brought to the West Coast the best in cinema from around the African Diaspora and the African American community. PAFF is the largest black film festival and the largest Black History Month celebration in the U.S.
Executive Director Ayuko Babu and festival co-founder Danny Glover once again have put together a fine assortment of films for the 12-day festival that closes Feb. 19.
“We are excited to screen ‘Love Jacked’ as our opening night film,” Babu said as the festival began Feb. 8. “Director Alfons Adetuyi delivers a romantic comedy with our own veteran actress Marla Gibbs, her daughter Angela, Greenleaf’s Keith David, Mike Epps, and the accidental couple Amber Stevens-West and Shamier Anderson.”
The sold-out event attracted the cast and other celebrities to the PAFF’s home, Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
Filmmakers from around the globe did not disappoint with messages that resonate with the sign of the times from social injustice, human trafficking, culture and forgotten history.
Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis (TNT’s “Claws”) is in several productions, including the emotional “Lalo House,” with Garcelle Beauvais and Jean-Louis’ two young daughters, about human trafficking in Haiti; “Cargo,” about smuggling immigrants from the Bahamas to Florida; “Jimmy Jean-Louis Visits Tijuana,” about thousands of Haitians who seek a U.S. visa while waiting in Tijuana.
“Borders,” a 90-minute feature film, comes from PAFF favorite Woye Apolline Traore’ from Burkina Faso. It follows the developing friendship of four women from different regions who travel by bus across West Africa.
Casting Director Tracy Twinkie Byrd screens her directorial debut, “The Counter: 1960,” a short film about three students who time travel to a lunch counter in 1960.
The 12-day PAFF experience showcases more than 75 artists and 170 new films from more than 40 countries within five continents and in 26 languages. Many of the films are available on several dates and times to accommodate the moviegoer.
Closing night Feb. 19 will feature “The Forgiven,” starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker and actor Eric Bana about real events surrounding Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a murderer who is seeking clemency. Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffe’ brings the 120-minute thriller to PAFF for the world premiere.
The festival program guide can be downloaded at www.paff.org/pdfs/2018/Screening_Schedule-2018-2.pdf .