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20.02.2011 Movie News

African Presence Huge At 19th Pan African Film Festival In Los Angeles.

By Isaac Amo-Kyereme, Los Angeles
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The 19th Annual Pan African Film festival (PAFF) has begun in Los Angeles with a strong representation from many African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Mali etc. The festival which will end on February 23rd will screen over a 100 films made by/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the Pacific, Europe and Canada.

Sponsored by the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Los Angeles Arts Fund, Macy's, Wells Fargo Bank, Sony pictures Entertainment, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and media outlets such as the Africa Channel and the African Trumpet among others, this festival is the largest Black history month event in America.

Established in 1992, by award winning actor Danny Glover, Emmy award-winning actress Ja'Net Dubois and the executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant, the festival has grown to become the largest and most prestigious international Black film festival.

It is PAFF's goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes. “We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles. It at the same time, serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times” Wyllisa Bennet, the public relations director of the festival in welcoming participants said.

Almost all the African actors and actresses who rubbed shoulders on the red carpet their their colleagues from America and other parts of the world reiterated that, African film production has within a short time caught up with production levels in Hollywood and their presence in this festival is a testimony to that. “The days when all that you saw from African films centered around juju and murder is long gone” Jean Kieta a film critic from Senegal in a chart with this writer said. “ We are now setting the positive agenda for communities and our entire nations to follow through our films”

The festival which is taking place at the Culver city theatre will hand out prizes for the best Documentary feature, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Narrative, Best Narrative Feature and the Best First Feature Film.

The festival also amongst other important dignitaries has Ghana's leading actress Nadia Buari and Kenya's critically acclaimed novelist, Professor Ngugi Wa Thiongo as special honorees. Also to be honored with lifetime achievement awards are Phylicia Rashad and Hope Foye.

Also in attendence are African actors and Actresses such as Akofa Ejeani Asiedu, Akosua Busia, Pascal Atuma, Ngo Okafor, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Leila Djansi, Sowande Tichawonna among others. Also gracing the red carpet were African American actors such as Boris Kodjoe and his wife Nicole Ari Parker, Nate Parker, Clifton Powel, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Gramma Funk, keith robinson, Kim Whitley just to mention a few.

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