First Annual Vancouver Pan-African Film & Arts Festival

Cultural diversity always makes Vancouver one hot city, whatever the weather, and now, with a burst of African sunshine on the horizon, it’s about to get whole lot hotter. October 26 & 27, 2007 marks the birth of a brand-new event in the city, the first annual Vancouver Pan-African Film & Arts Festival (VPAFF).

Giving due respect to African and “Black” cinema from both near and far, the festival celebrates the beauty, achievements and potential of African/“Black” culture, while addressing Afro-centric perspectives on human rights and global issues.

Two full days featuring 16 screenings, entertainment and special forums, VPAFF will create a much-needed platform for dialogue in Western Canada on contemporary issues of the international African/“Black” Diaspora. VPAFF is an exciting opportunity to break down stereotypes, highlight our common humanity and build trust and solidarity.

Opening Ceremonies on Friday evening kick off with a vibrant performance by master drummer from the Hausa tribe in Ghana, Saeed Abbas (a prolific artist who has performed for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth II, President Bill Clinton, and Prime Minister Tony Blair). But that’s just the warm up to an unforgettable, interactive session with the Vancouver branch of South Africa’s The Drum Café. With a drum for every pair of hands in the participating audience and a tight group of passionate percussionists to back him up, Cape Town-originating Munkie Ncapayi will “unite, uplift and inspire” one breath-taking beat at a time.

The two days of programming reflect seven themes: African Diaspora; the Darfur Film Forum; African Achievements; African Animations; Rwanda Rising; the AIDS Film Forum; and Music.

Friday’s screenings begin in the morning with African Diaspora, featuring the Canadian premier of Quilombo Country (2006), telling the story of the deadly slave camps that were the beginnings of the modern day state of Brazil.

Friday’s focus then turns to Rwanda, with the Opening Night screening of Rwanda Rising (2007), an uplifting look at the reconciliation and rebuilding of Rwanda, 12 years after one of the worst genocides in modern history. The film follows former UN Ambassador Andrew Young as he offers an exhilarating look at the rebuilding of the torn African nation that just a dozen years ago experienced one of the worst genocides in modern history. Ambassador Young will be in attendance.

Continuing on Friday, The Darfur Film Forum presents the Canadian premiers of All About Darfur (2005), offering a different perspective on the conflict in that country and The Devil Came on Horseback (2007) which exposes the tragedy of Darfur through the eyes of an American witness.

Afrikan Achievements screens Afrikan World Civilizations (2006), an exploration of the role of Africans in the creation of the world civilizations; and The Future of Mud: A Tale of Houses of Lives in Djenne, Mali which documents the environmental genius of traditional African architecture.

In African Animations we will see The Cora Player, a story of inter-caste love and the defiance of tradition; and The Magic Lion (2004), a short animated story of an African boy on a quest to save his grandfather’s life.

Saturday opens as The AIDS Film Forum presents Un Pas (2004), a two-minute photo montage evokes glossy media images to illustrate the appalling fate of Africa; Positive Voices: Leading Together (2006), featuring one of five subjects of a full-length documentary telling of one woman’s warm-hearted journey from misconceptions and self-denial to public disclosure and advocacy; and The Origins of AIDS (2003), exploring the theory that AIDS was inadvertently created in a laboratory in the Belgian Congo in the late 1960s.

Concluding Saturday’s screenings, Music puts the focus on that universal language with Suffering and Smiling (2006). Featuring singer and political activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti and his son and successor Femi, the film illustrates Nigeria’s history and the music mercilessly spells out the irreversible situation; Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars (2005) chronicles the band over three years, from Guinean refugee camps back to war-ravaged Sierra Leone, where they realize the dream of recording their first studio album; Breath Control: The Human Beat Box, is a documentary about making music with nothing but the human voice through interviews, live performances, archival footage, and animation; and Rent a Rasta (2006) tells the story of the thousands of white middle-aged woman who flock to Jamaica in search of the “big bamboo”.

VPAFF 2007 takes place at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street. The Festival will also feature post-screening discussions with filmmakers, as well as prominent guest speakers, including former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and filmmaker Charles Burnett and cast at the Closing.

A full program detailing films, performing artists and show times will be available shortly. Visit the Festival website at  for further information.


About Author

Leave A Reply