Experience the largest Black film festival in America, which includes films from around the world, film networking events, and an art fest.
By Jason Lewis
The 27th annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) takes place February 7-18 at the Cinemark 15 BHC at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and is showcasing over 150 films made by Black filmmakers. The festival is also hosting workshops that inform the public about ways to break into the film industry.
The PAFF provides a spotlight and platform for Pan African images, according to Asantewa Olatunji, PAFF director of programming. Feature films come from the United States, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and other places in the world where there are Black communities.
“If you take the entire global existence of Black folks, there are lot of Black films that are being made throughout the world,” Olatunji said. “The Nigerian film industry I believe is either No. 1 or No. 2 in terms of the production of film. So you really do have a lot of Black films. It’s just unfortunate that in this country we don’t necessarily see all of those films. That’s one of the real purposes and one of the highlights of the Pan African Film Festival; is that you get to see all of these films from all over the world.”
Olatunji said that many people say that they cannot find a lot of Black films, which is why the PAFF is so impactful. The festival features films from various genres, including drama, romance, science fiction, action, family, and children’s films.
“There’s such a variety and there is something here for everyone,” Olatunji said.
Watching Black films is only one part of this festival. This is a great networking event for anybody who is in the film industry, or people who are trying to break in. There are several workshops that feature panel discussions on various topics within the film industry.
“This is Los Angeles, the film capital of the world,” Olatunji said. “The reality is that there are so many film jobs here. If people are interested in getting into the film business, or even servicing the film business in some way, we have several workshops.”
The guest panel speakers have achieved success within the film industry, and they have vital information for anybody who is trying to launch their career.
“These are people who have experience, and they are coming here to share their experiences,” Olatunji said. “These are people with valuable information, and they’ll be telling us what their course was. They’ll talk about some of the hurdles that they had to overcome in order to get where they are, as well as letting us know that it’s doable. And they’re relatively young people, so they’re not talking about something that happened back in 1992. These are people who have had their careers take off within the last couple of years.”
There is also a student fest, where 5,000-7,000 high school and middle school children will be able to learn about careers in the film industry.
“This is to put it in their heads that if you’re going to be living in Los Angeles, where the movie business is the largest business in terms of dollar amount, they need to plug into the industry,” Olatunji said. “Sometimes it’s not the creative part, but just servicing the industry.”
Most film jobs do not have much to do with acting, directing, writing, or producing. There are electricians, carpenters, painters, dress makers, make up artist, cooks, drivers, etc.
The PAFF also has an art festival inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and Olatunji has collected pieces during the film festival.
“One thing that I find with the art, it doesn’t only decorate my walls, it also gives me energy and uplift, because I’m seeing a refection of me,” she said. “Of who I am culturally; of who I am physically. And it just gives me an energy that I don’t think that I would have if I didn’t support the arts.”
For more information, and schedules for films and events, visit www.paff.org. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.