Annual Pan African Film And Arts Festival Draws Thousands To Baldwin Hills Crenshaw

by LP Green, II

The 22nd annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival, the premier celebration of international filmmakers, craftsmen and performers of African heritage, is set to commence today at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw. The festival is expected to draw more than 35,000 people from around the world to the mall over the next several weeks.

As the centerpiece of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw’s Black History Month programming, the event has a long-established history at the mall: in 1996, the Magic Johnson Theaters first hosted the Pan African Film Festival as part of its annual Celebration of African American Heritage. The festival has grown over the years to its current prominence, featuring screenings of globally acclaimed films, crafts produced by hundreds of fine artists and shows by award-winning comedians and spoken word performers.

This year’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) runs from Thursday, February 6th through Monday, February 17th with a lineup that includes 179 movies from 46 countries. These entries will vie for a number of honors at the Filmmakers’ Award Brunch at the close of the festival, including Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Narrative Feature and Best First Feature Film, as well as audience favorite awards.

The film festival will kick off with an opening night gala for the Los Angeles premiere of the acclaimed South African film noirOf Good Report,” directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka. Other special events include the world premiere of “About Last Night” by Steve Pink on February 11th and “Blackbird” by Patrick-Ian Polk on closing night, February 16th. Local film enthusiasts will also enjoy this year’s PAFF Special Presentations, which include lectures by Emmy award-winning actor and director Charles Dutton onFebruary 8th and nationally renowned artist/social commentator Ise Lyfe on February 14th.

This year’s PAFF Institute, featuring a variety of panels and workshops about issues in the African film industry, will take place alongside performances and screenings. Topics for discussion include images of slavery in film, the rebirth of black cinema and even an actor’s workshop. In addition, the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa will host “South Africa Day” onFebruary 15th, commemorating 20 years of democracy in that country with screenings of two films that address social issues inSouth Africa, as well as a luncheon and forum discussion.

Across the promenade within the mall, more than 100 established and emerging artists of African heritage will showcase fine art, sculpture, and photography, unique crafts, home furnishings, jewelry, and designer fashions and accessories. This art exhibition is open to the public Thursday, February 6th through Monday, February 17th from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sundays.

A spoken word and poetry performance by some of the world’s hottest spoken word artists will take place on February 9th, featuring award-winning rapper, singer/songwriter and actress Lil’ Mama, who most recently served as a judge on the reality television series “America’s Best Dance Crew.” As part of “PAFF Presents LOL” the next day, February 10th, some of the city’s finest up-and-coming comedians will perform in an improv comedy show.

“Baldwin Hills Crenshaw prides itself on serving as a gathering place and cultural resource for our neighborhood and for the entire city of Los Angeles, something that’s best illustrated each year during the annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival,” saidSharron King, General Manager of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw. “We’re proud to host this well-loved event and to celebrate the heritage and achievements of the African diaspora as part of the worldwide celebration of Black History Month.”

A full event schedule as well as single-event tickets and all-festival passes are available for purchase at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Rave Theaters box office and online at

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