The 21st Annual Pan African Film Festival


The 21st Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) the largest and most prestigious international Black film festival in the country returns to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

PAFF 2013, which runs from Thursday, February 7 through Monday, February 18 at the 15-screen Rave multiplex, is expected to draw more than 35,000 people from across the globe to the heart of the Crenshaw District. Festivities include a red carpet opening night gala with the actors, events for children and seniors, as well as musical performances, poetry and performance art, workshops and panels. In addition, thousands of Los Angeles students and their teachers will attend a free program featuring films focused on important youth issues including teen pregnancy, AIDS prevention, literacy, cultural and racial respect, teen self-esteem and gang prevention.

This year, PAFF unreels 154 films (23 documentaries, 13 short documentaries, 67 narrative features, and 51 narrative shorts) representing 34 countries: United Kingdom, Canada, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and of course, the United States. PAFF hopes these films with global appeal will open the minds of its audiences, and transport them to lands far away and back home again without ever packing a suitcase.

The festival will hand out prizes for Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Narrative Feature, and Best First Feature Film, as well as audience favorite awards at the close of the festival.

The festival will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at the Directors Guild of America (DGA), 7920 W. Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. “Vipaka,” a Voodoo psycho-thriller starring Oscar Winner Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie is the Opening Night Film.

Directed by Philippe Caland (“Boxing Helena”), the cast includes Sanaa Latham, Nicole Ari Parker and Mike Epps. Set in New Orleans, earnest author/ life-coach Thomas Carter (Mackie), is abducted by a deranged client, Angel Sanchez, (Whitaker), who delves into Thomas’ teachings and uses his spiritual messages of Karma and Vipaka (action and reaction) to terrorize him and his family for their past sins. Lathan plays Mackie’s wife. The term “Vipaka” is a Buddhist term, which means the result of Karma.
Saturday Night Special, Part 1
 “Iceberg Slim: A Portrait of a Pimp” (US/Documentary/90min) | Saturday February 9, 2013 – directed by Jorge Hinojosa. The film examines the tumultuous life of legendary Chicago pimp Iceberg Slim (1918-1992) and how he reinvented himself from pimp to author of seven groundbreaking books. These books were the birth of Street Lit and explored the world of the ghetto in gritty and poetic detail, and made him a cultural icon for some. The documentary includes interviews with Iceberg Slim, Chris Rock, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Bill Duke, Quincy Jones, Gary Philips, Todd Boyd and Odie Hawkins.
Centerpiece Presentation World Premiere
“Babe’s and Ricki’s Inn (US/Documentary/90min) 
Thursday CHECK February 14, 2013 — directed by Ramin Niami.
For more than 50 years, Laura Mae Gross (Mama Laura), an African American woman from Mississippi, brought musicians together, regardless of race, age, or gender, in a place where only the music mattered. Originally located on the legendary Central Avenue in South Central, Los Angeles, Mama Laura created a jazz/blues spot where masters such as Johnny Lee Hooker, BB King, Albert King, and others shared the stage with new artists in an open, creative, and safe environment.  Featuring original music and stunning guitar performances by some of today’s most important blues artists in the world, the musicians share their life experiences and personal stories about what it means to devote your life to music, and of course, their memories of Mama Laura. Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn is a stunning celebration of the art, creativity, virtuosity and passion of what became a Temple to the Blues!
Blues jam after party in the BHCP Bridge following the screening* Tickets: $35 VIP

Saturday Night Special, Part 2
“Home Again” (Canada/Narrative Feature/102min)  | February 16, 2013 — directed by Sudz Sutherland. On the most fundamental level, “Home Again” asks the question: “How would you survive?” A story based in fact, the script was inspired by the practice of various governments to deport incarcerated-landed immigrants to rid itself of unwanted population. The issue is a particularly difficult problem in Jamaica where the deportee population outnumbers the prison population by seven times. There is little to no resources to help deportees establish new lives, and where the deportees are largely blamed for the serious violence that rocks the country. Jamaica has the third highest per capita murder rate in the world.
 Closing Night Los Angeles Premiere
“Free Angela & All Political Prisoners” (US-France/Documentary/101min) | February 18, 2013  — directed by Shola Lynch. In this historical vérité style documentary, marking the 40th anniversary of her acquittal on charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy, Angela Davis recounts the politics and actions that branded her a terrorist and simultaneously spurred a worldwide movement for her freedom as a political prisoner. At its core, the story wrestles with the meaning of political freedom in a democracy negotiated between the people and its government. The sixties and seventies were all about citizens challenging authority, or as the slogan went – “Power to the People!”  Strong, attractive, and engaging, Angela Davis is one such person who became a symbol at the center of this still relevant power struggle. “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” is executive produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith along with Roc Nation’s Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, joining forces to bolster and assist with final funding of the documentary.

Note: With the exception of the Opening Night Gala, all PAFF screenings and panels will take place at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (The theatre is situated on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Marlton Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard). For more information about the official selections of the Pan African Film Festival, visit the festival’s website at:

Other Festival Highlights include a retrospective of films by 
Christian Lara (the “Father of West Indian Cinema,” ) including “1802,””Bitter Sugar,” “The Legend,” and “Summer of Provence.” Visit for screening times.
Christian Lara, who’s shot more than 20 feature films in the Caribbean, France, Canada and Africa., will be honored with the Pioneering Filmmaker Award at the annual Night of Tribute, part of the preshow festivities for the awards ceremony of the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA).  The Pan African Film Festival will honor actress Lynn Whitfield with its highest honor, a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in television and film, at the same event.

Other honorees include Visionary Award – Filipe Savadogo –the former director of the Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), and Rising Sarss Nicole Beharie (“American Violet”, “Shame”) Omari Hardwick (“Middle of Nowhere”).

PAFF will receive the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the premiere organization of African American film media professionals. The festival will be recognized for its contribution to cinematic arts. PAFF will be presented with this award during the AAFCA’s private awards ceremony on Friday, February 8, 2013 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, Calif.

“We are very humbled by this award from the African American Film Critics Association,” said Ayuko Babu, executive director of PAFF. “When we began this festival 21 years ago, we knew there was a hunger and demand to see positive images of Black folks from around the world on the big screen. Over the years, we’ve worked very hard to have our fingers on pulse of the international film market.” Babu added, “We built it, and people came out to support the festival. We’re extremely grateful and thankful for everyone’s support over the years.”

The event has a long history at the recently restored Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, dating back to 1996 when Magic Johnson Theaters first welcomed the Pan African Film Festival as part of its Celebration of African American Heritage Month. The annual celebration has grown significantly over the past 15 years to include the screening of 160 films from across the world, a fine art show, a SpokenWordFest, comedy and fashion shows. The Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall has undergone a recent $35 million physical transformation.

Artisanal crafts, collectables and Wearable Art are some of the showcased art for purchase. The public is welcome to visit the booths throughout the mall Thursday, February 7th through Monday, February, 18th from 10am-9pm on weekdays; 10am-8pm on Saturdays; and 11am-6pm on Sundays.

For more information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit or call (310) 337-4737.


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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