Top Picks for Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) 2019


by Tom Nguyen

The 27th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) opened on Thursday, February 7, and continues through Monday, February 18, at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, California. 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.

It’s absolutely one of my favorite events of the year and must-see film festivals in Los Angeles. It’s the only opportunity to see so many independent films from the Black diaspora that might not otherwise make it to movie screens here. And it’s more than just a film festival…next door to the theater, inside Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, are 2 floors of fabulous art, crafts and vendors from all over the country.

PAFF has always been a platform for important discussions to inspire, nurture and elevate Black representation in filmmaking. To “amPAFFify” PAFF’s proud history, the organization recently launched an “#IAMPAFF” Meme Generator, designed to allow festival supporters to share their own stories on social media. Festival supporters can join in the fun by creating a meme here to tell their story. There is also a spoken word fest on Saturday, February 9, from 7pm-10pm.

The festival opened Thursday, February 8, with Amazing Grace concert documentary at the Directors Guild of AmericaSpotlight Feature films include Sew the Winter to My SkinBoss: The Black Experience In Business, and The Robeson Effect.

Here is my list of other great films I’m excited to see. The list is by no means exhaustive, because there are too many worthy films to choose from! You can find the full list of films here. #PAFFNOW is is where I will be movie-binging the next 10 days! Continue Reading →

Top Picks for Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) 2018


by Tom Nguyen

The 26th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) takes place this Thursday, February 8 through Monday, February 19, at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, California. 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.

It’s absolutely one of my favorite events of the year and must-see film festivals in Los Angeles. It’s the only opportunity to see so many independent films from the Black diaspora that might not otherwise make it to movie screens here. And it’s more than just a film festival…next door to the theater, inside Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, are 2 floors of fabulous art, crafts and vendors from all over the country.

PAFF has always been a platform for important discussions to inspire, nurture and elevate Black representation in filmmaking. In addition to the Q&As with filmmakers in attendance, PAFF launches a new #Talk4Reel panel series, featuring film industry and community figures, thought leaders and disruptors, for engaging talks you don’t want to miss! There is also a spoken word fest featuring Get Lit-Words Ignite!

The festival opens Thursday, February 8, with the world premiere of Love Jacked, a warm family comedy, and will close on Sunday, February 18, with the US premiere of The Forgiven, starring Forrest Whitaker, who portrays Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Spotlight Feature films include Behind the Movement, about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King of Stage: The Woodie King Jr Story, about the legendary theatre producer who will be present to accept PAFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and Nothing Like Thanksgiving, about a dying businessman who tries to groom his replacement.

Here is my list of other great films I’m excited to see. The list is by no means exhaustive, because there are too many worthy films to choose from! You can find the full list of films here and daily schedule here. So this is where I will be movie-binging the next 10 days and if you’re a MoviePass member like I am, you can use it to see one PAFF film a day!

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Top Picks for Pan African Film & Arts Festival 2016 Feb. 4-15

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by Tom Nguyen

Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF), the largest, most prestigious Black film festival and largest Black History Month event in the US, is one of my most anticipated events of the year! The 24th annual event is February 4-15 at Cinemark/RAVE Cinemas 15 in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and features a staggering lineup of 150 films from around the world on Black life and culture.

PAFF co-founder, actor and activist Danny Glover recently criticized the Oscars and Hollywood for its lack of diversity. In a Variety interview, he remembers growing up in the 60s and 70s and being able to see great films from around the world in cinemas. “It would widen my whole sense of myself and my relationship to the rest of the world. That’s what the movies and art is supposed to be about!” Glover says and that’s been PAFF’s mission for over 2 decades: to showcase films from the Black diaspora from around the world that usually don’t get a chance to be watched by wider audiences.

The other half of this grand event is the large arts & crafts festival, featuring over 100 artists and vendors, showcasing fine art, crafts and fashion from around the world. So give your eyes a rest between films and head over to find great unique gifts and fashion. Support artisans and small businesses like Amaechina Doreen of ByouBnatural, who will be featuring her handcrafted Art Doll artwork and Wamuhu Waweru of Infinite Miss, featuring crafts and fashion from her travels to her native Kenya, South Africa and most recently Indonesia.

There are also special events and programs for everyone, including special screenings for children and seniors, a fashion show, community forums and talks. Don’t miss the special conversation with Nate Parker, whose film Birth of a Nation made recent headlines at its Sundance premiere and got acquired by Fox Searchlight.

So without further ado, here are my film recommendations (and yes I really do make an effort to see 20-30 films every year here!)…let the film marathon begin! Hope to see you there and let us know what you think of this year’s films and festival, using #PAFFNow on Twitter and Instagram!

Dramatic Features

Narrative films including the opening and closing films of PAFF. I’m really impressed with the films from South Africa this year!

America Is Still The Place (LA premiere): PAFF’s opening film is based on the real life story about a giant oil spill on the beaches of northern California and the institutional racism that Charlie Walker has to overcome in order to finally achieve the “American Dream.”

Miles Ahead: The PAFF closing film is about legendary Miles Davis, portrayed, written and directed by Don Cheadle.

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23rd Annual Pan African Film Festival opens with Black Panther documentary

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Tolulope Olusola Lamidi and her mother. ©Kevin Rhone

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! Continue Reading →

Valentine’s Day Premiere of Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn at Pan African Film Festival

My friend Behrooz and Ramin Naimi have been working hard on their labor of love, the documentary “Baby’s and Ricky’s Inn” about the iconic blues club in South Central Los Angeles. There will be a red carpet premiere event at the Pan African Film Festival on Thursday, February 14, starting at 5:45pm with the screening at 6:45pm. Afterwards, there will be live blues concert featuring Guitar Shorty, Ray Bailey Dennis Jones, Peter Tork and many more. The film will open theatrically on April 5 in Los Angeles at Laemmle Santa Monica. Please support their campaign on Indiegogo to bring the film to a wider audience and keep the Blues alive!


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