Caribbean filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon’s internationally acclaimed feature film “Hero” will serve as the opening film at the 28th annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF). Filmed in Trinidad, Ghana, the UK and Canada, “Hero” is the story of Ulric Cross, who in 1941, left his small island to seek his fortune, and became the Royal Air Force’s most decorated West Indian. Then his life took a dramatically different course when he followed the call of history and joined the African independence movements sweeping the world in the 50s and 60s.
The international cast includes Joseph Marcell, (“Fresh Prince of Belair”) who plays Trinidadian author CLR James, Fraser James’ (“Terminator”) as Trinidadian revolutionary George Padmore; British-Nigerian actor Jimmy Akingbola as Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Adjetey Anang (Adam’s Apple, Potomanto) who plays Congo’s ill-fated first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba and Jamaican actor Peter Williams.
“Hero” is inspired by the extraordinary revolutionary life and times of Trinidad and Tobago diplomat and Judge Ulric Cross, the most decorated West Indian of World War II. He was a member of the highly-decorated group of Caribbean pilots who flew combat missions for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) in World War II. This Caribbean group was the equivalent of the Tuskegee Airmen.
After his service, Cross went on to play an active and important role in the Pan African Movement, which led to the creation of the 28 modern Caribbean and 54 modern African nations. This Pan African Movement influenced U.S. domestic policy towards African Americans and inspired the Civil Rights movement. It also inspired Black Power movements in the Americas as well as the rise of Black consciousness that swept around the world and resonates to this day.
“We are very excited to screen “Hero” and share the triumphs and victories of Judge Ulric Cross and his Pan African brothers, which led to the creation of our modern world. It is truly an honor for me personally, as well as the Pan African Film Festival, to present and create awareness about this great, important, enriching and entertaining story,” said Ayuko Babu, executive director of PAFF.
The iconic festival, which is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious independent film festivals in the world, will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11 at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in Hollywood and the opening night festivities will feature a Trinidad and Tobago live steel drum band and Caribbean cuisine. This year’s theme is “20/20 Vision,” kicking off the decade with a fresh lens and solidifying its commitment to tell diverse stories with a global, luminous view.
“PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation with approximately 150 Black films and 100 fine artists from around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live action and animation short films.
The festival which will be held from February 11 – 23, 2020 at the Cinemark 15 Theaters, located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. festival will hand out juried prizes for Best Narrative Feature, Best First Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, and Best Narrative Short as well as audience favorite awards at the close of the festival.
By Samantha Ofole-Prince