PAFF-Soul of African Diaspora in Cinema
Los Angeles-The 18th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival was held on February 10-17, 2010 at the Culver Plaza Theatres in Culver City. This is an official City of Los Angeles African American Heritage Month Celebration.
Once again, the festival presented over 135 films, representing over 35 countries. This is by far the most prestigious Black Film Festival in the nation. The festival showcases compelling and interesting films that can rival many Hollywood blockbuster movies. Several movies have debuted at the festival and went on to win an Academy Award. Other movies has debuted at the festival and found success at the box office all across the United States.
The festival presented many panels and workshops to inform and engage those in attendance. These panels were a gathering place of industry professionals, filmmakers, academics and trendsetters discussing the hottest new topics in filmmaking, art and cultural trends.
I was in attendance for three of the ten panels presented at this year’s festival. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles presented the panel “Director’s Roundtable” moderated by John Alan Simon. The panel consisted of Charles Burnett, Tina Mabry and Bernard Rose discussing how they got started, who influence them as directors, digital vs. film, current technology, casting and presented clips from upcoming projects that they are working on.
Jennifer Williams served as moderator for the panel “It’s Legal...So Write, Right? This distinguished panel of Lisa Marie Boykin, Dominique Shelton, Lisa Bolekaja and Clifford Lo discussed the importance of clearance-getting the permission to use licensed music, images and other written materials. Filmmakers need to know how and where to get clearances for their projects to avoid any lawsuits. This panel was presented by Organization of Black Screenwriters, Inc.
African American Film Critics Association presented the panel “Colorstruck: Race and Movie Images in Hollywood.” This powerful and engaging panel was moderated by Kathy Williamson and featured Erika Conner, Bill Overton and Rob Edwards.
The film festival took festival goers and me on a much need spiritual journey through music. This is always my favorite trip each year.
Our journey started outside of Phoenix, Arizona on an Indian Reservation. The movie “Hearing Radmilla” directed by Angela Webb told the story of singer Radmilla Cody who was crowned the first Black Miss Navajo Nation. Her musical career was going strong until as a result of a bad relationship caused her a major detour. She spent some time in prison where she grew stronger spiritually. Ms. Cody is using her voice to be a spokesperson and role model for youngsters that she encounters on her journey.
Our journey took us to Belize for the movie “Punta Sol.” This movie was presented in collaboration with the Garifuna Community of Southern California. Director Nyasha Laing shined the spotlight on the music and musicians who played a key role in the cultural renaissance of ethnic communities in Belize.
Next, we traveled to Haiti by way of Brooklyn, New York. Director Jeremy Robins allowed us to look into the music, spirituality and cultural activism within the Haitian-American Community in the movie “The Other Side of the Water: The Journey of a Haitian Rara Band in Brooklyn.” What I found striking about this movie is the similarities with the Brass Bands and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans. While watching this movie, images of Carnaval in Brazil and Mardi Gras in New Orleans kept popping into my head. The pulsating rhythms in these two movies made you want to get up and dance or go out dancing afterwards.
Our next stop was California. Legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd life was documented in “Monk and the Mermaid: The Story of Charles Lloyd” directed by Fara C. and Guiseppi de Vecchi. These talented directors painted a beautiful picture of Charles Lloyd as we traveled throughout Europe of rare archival concert footage.
The Festival of World Sacred Music in Los Angeles was the site for this short film directed by Leena Pendharkar. The movie “Lesa Terry & The Women Jazz Orchestra" offered a unique interpretation of symphonic and sacred music infused with Western Classical music and jazz. Hoping that this will become a featured film or documentary in the future.
Our final destination found us in Jamaica. Guitarist Ernest Ranglin is the greatest guitarist few people have heard of. He is a pioneer in the development and growth of ska, reggae and dancehall music that is enjoyed all over the world. Roots and Reggae: The Earnest Ranglin Story is directed by Christofer Salzgeber."
Readers on the West Coast have a chance to view these movies on Wednesday, February 17th. Visit www.paff.org click on film guide. The festival concludes on Wednesday Night with the Filmmakers Awards. For more information and to view photo galleries visit www.paff.org .