Isaiah Washington and PAFF co founder Janet Du Bois
The 2015 Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is in full swing, and it’s drawing some of the biggest names in entertainment and show business to Los Angeles, Calif. A hotbed for emerging talent and a haven for black filmmakers, the festival has launched hundreds of independent films and supplied new filmmakers, directors and artists with a venue to share their work. This year’s film festival runs until February 16, and as usual there is a host of movie offerings for film fans, which covers a huge breadth and variety of genres, directors, actors and periods. With soul-searching dramas, comedies and documentaries, this year’s lineup in particular includes some interesting films.
Jimmy Jean-Louis at the opening night of PAFF 2015
PAFF executive director Ayuko Babu
Sure to generate strong interest among documentaries is director Stanley Nelson’s doc on the black Panthers — the black militant party, founded in the sixties by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Titled “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”, the film which served as the festival’s opening film shares archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers ex-members and members. This year’s potential breakouts include “Triangle-Going to America,” an emotional drama, which follows immigrants in search of the American dream, the romantic comedy “The Man in 3B” starring Lamman Rucker, Billie D. Williams, and “Vigilante – The Crossing” a film which explores the harsh realities of Caribbean life.
Actress Serayah McNeill from TV show Empire
There’s the comical chick flick “Girlfriends’ Getaway” directed by Roger Bobb, the Nigerian film “LAPD African Cops” which follows two West African immigrants who join the police department. Tensions between Africans and African Americans are explored in the hard-hitting documentary “Bound: Africans vs African Americans” which brilliantly addresses the little known tension that exists between the groups. Director Kunle Afolayan’s psychological thriller “October 1” also makes its LA premiere at the Pan African Film Festival. Returning to the festival this year is Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis who is taking the director’s rens in the exploratory documentary “Jimmy Goes to Nollywood.” Jimmy’s film delves into the history of Nigeria’s film industry “Nollywood” and features Isaiah Washington, Leila Djansi and PAFF’s executive director Ayuko Babu.
Actress Nicki Micheaux
“Everyone knows about Hollywood and Bollywood, but know very little about Nollywood, so I decided to take my cameras and go out there and try to identify what Nollywood is about by talking with Nollywood film producers, directors and actors,” says Jimmy who hopes the project will open up more collaborative opportunities for black filmmakers. “I like exploring things that are less known and the business there could be a real identity to Africa,” Jimmy continues. “If we are able to make movies of quality, it will open a whole market not just for Africans, but for blacks everywhere and it will also help us to tell our own stories without having to go through anyone else.” All films will screen at RAVE Cinemas 15, located within the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 4200 Marlton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90008.
For details on screenings visit www.paff.org.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is an entertainment industry specialist and contributes to Trendy Africa Magazine from Los Angeles.