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Pan African Film festival marks 26th year

CRENSHAW — Thousands of film lovers will descend on the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza for the 26th annual Pan African Film Festival, which offers a spectacular array of films, documentaries and shorts from around the world Feb. 8-19.

Noted as the largest and most prestigious black film festival in the country, the annual event is again being held at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres, featuring 170 new films from 40 countries. Movie lovers will enjoy diverse films from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, South America and the South Pacific.

The festival also will present a series of panel discussions as well as films for the young and old, featuring a Saturday Morning Children’s Festival, a Studentfest, and a variety of films for the older generation with daily screenings during Senior Connections.

A spoken wordfest, a comedy night and a fashion show also will be showcased and attendees also will get a chance to mix and mingle with more 75 craftsmen and artists displaying their artwork and jewelry during the Artfest showcased inside the Baldwin Hills Plaza.

The red carpet opening night festivities will begin with the sophisticated romantic comedy “Love Jacked,” directed by award-winning filmmaker Alfons Adetuyi. The film centers around Maya, a 28 year old with artistic ambitions who experiences a conflicting relationship with her father, Ed.

While her father is adamant that his daughter run the family store, Maya is determined to assert her independence. She travels to Africa for artistic inspiration and returns with a fiancé who is not quite as he seems. The film features a plot twist that will keep audiences chuckling.

“I hope that our film makes you laugh and makes you cry,’’ Adetuyi said. “Themes in the film include believing in yourself and finding true love. I feel that these themes interest men and women of all ages.”

On Feb. 10, TVOne will present “Behind the Movement,” a retelling of how Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat launched the history-making Montgomery Bus Boycott. The film will reveal the untold story of how a group of everyday people decided that incident was the right time to take a stand for their civil rights and demand equal treatment.

Other presentations include the film “Canal Street” on Feb. 16, which centers on a teen, Kholi Styles, who experiences the mysterious death of a classmate. Kholi is the main suspect and it’s up to his father, Jackie Styles, a lawyer from the slums of Chicago, to defend his son in court and battle an outraged public. Jackie fights to keep his faith and prove his son is not the monster the world has made him out to be.

An exclusive screening of the Showtime original drama series “The Chi,” set in the gritty streets of Chicago from Emmy winner Lena Waithe and Academy Award winner Common, will be shown Feb. 17.

On Feb. 19, the hot new show “Black Lightning,” about a black superhero, will be screened followed by a discussion with talent and crew on the CW series.

Among a series of panel discussions planned as part of the festival is a conversation with Pearlena Igbokwe, president of Universal Television and the first woman of African descent to head a major U.S. television studio, on Feb. 10.

If your child is a born performer, attend “Kids in Talent: How to Get Your Child in Show Business” on Feb. 17 where casting agents, managers and talent agents provide information on getting your kids into the movies and TV.

A talk with black studio executives on Feb. 15 will include discussion on green-lighting, producing and distributing black content in the digital age.

A sports and activism panel Feb. 15 will include senior NBA writer Marc Spears, Galen Gordon, vice president of talent management for the NFL Network), sportswriter Ramona Shelburne and Lz Granderson, a senior writer at ESPN and ABC contributor).

The festival also will present the #TALK4REEL panel series of conversations, a Nate Parker Foundation Film premiere event which empowers young voices of African descent to advance social justice and revolutionize culture. Two films will be screened, “#Hashtag” and “Baggage,” followed by a discussion led by Parker from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 10.

Seed and Spark founder Emily Best will lead a panel discussion on the future of filmmaking and distribution on Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. Seed and Spark is an innovative new streaming service changing the way films are financed and distributed.

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