by Tom Nguyen
Last night, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival launched its 23rd annual festival celebrating cinema and arts from the African American and African diaspora.The opening night featured the West Coast premiere of director Stanley Nelson’s documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. The film is a powerful chronicle of one of the most iconic and still misunderstood groups in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and a very timely one. With recent incidents of police violence dominating the national discussion on race relations, films like this and Ava Duvernay’s Selma, are important and inspirational reminders for the current generation that much work and activism remains to be done.
There were more than 20 former Black Panthers in attendance, like storyteller Michael D. McCarty and artist/activist Akinsanya Kambon, as well as celebrities from American and African continents, like veteran actors Isaiah Washington, Loretta Devine, Nigerian TV personality Tolulope Olusola Lamidi, South African director Sihle Hlophe, and many more at the sold-out event!
Founded in 1992 by Danny Glover, Ja’net Dubois and executive director Ayuko Babu, the festival features films of the African diaspora from around the word, 2 levels of African arts and crafts, community discussions, a student film festival and live entertainment. The festival is a crown jewel of the African American community in Los Angeles, the largest and most prestigious Black History Month event in the country, and one of our favorite events of the year. The festival runs through February 16th at Rave Cinemas with the arts festival in the adjoining Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Don’t miss it!