America’s largest Black film festival set for Feb. 28 thru March 14
Award-winning actor and activist Danny Glover to serve as festival’s ambassador
The 29th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) will take place February 28 through March 14, 2021, and will be entirely virtual–a move festival organizers say will increase their audience and bring the African diaspora to film lovers around the world regardless of their physical location or travel budget.
“PAFF is known for being the largest Black History Month celebration in Los Angeles,” said PAFF executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural, and political consultant who specializes in Pan African Affairs. “This year we had to recalibrate in order to meet this moment. We will certainly miss seeing everyone in person this year but we’re excited about our innovative new platform that promises to be a unique experience for viewers and will bring the Pan African Film Festival to audiences worldwide. Virtual or in-person we remain dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art, and creative expression.”
Festival co-founder and award-winning actor and activist Danny Glover is set to serve as the celebrity ambassador for the 2021 PAFF. As an ambassador, Glover will help bring awareness of this year’s festival lineup and PAFF’s 29-year legacy.
PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation featuring over 200 Black films and 100 fine artists from around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live-action and animation short films. The Los Angeles based festival is normally held at the Cinemark 15 Theatres at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will take place entirely online.
Out of over 900 submissions from 83 countries, the 2021 PAFF will feature over 200 films including 168 narrative films, 39 documentaries, 159 short and mini short films from 45 countries and in 43 languages.
PAFF proudly continues its tradition of showcasing the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes, and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience.
This year’s PAFF will feature four Academy Award Best Foreign Film submissions including the U.S. premiere of The Milkmaid (Nigeria), The Fisherman’s Diary (Cameroon), The Letter (Kenya), and This Is Not A Burial, It’s a Resurrection (Lesotho).
Other notable entries include the world premiere African America (South Africa), a first film from director Muzi Mthembu about a cynical South African woman accepted to Julliard who finds out the hard way that 2017 U.S.A. isn’t as welcoming as she had dreamed. Set in Rio de Janeiro in a near and hypothetical future, Executive Order (Brazil) is a feature fictional film whose plot starts with the enforcement of a law that determines the compulsory return of all Afro-descendants to their “countries of origin”. In its U.S. premiere, Finding Sally (Ethiopia), is a documentary that tells the incredible story of a 23-year-old woman from an upper-class family who became a communist rebel with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party. Also making its U.S. premiere, hip hop and art historians will enjoy Fresh Guide to Florence with Fab 5 Freddy (Italy/US/UK) where the hip hop pioneer goes on a quest to uncover the hidden black figures of Italian Renaissance art.
With over 160 filmmakers of African descent, this year’s PAFF will feature 84 female directors and 15 LGBTQ+ directors.
The festival will hand out juried prizes for Best Narrative Feature, Best First Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, and Best Narrative Short as well as audience favorite awards at the close of the festival.
The 2021 PAFF will be powered by the El Segundo, CA based and Black-owned cloud-based content management, distribution, and TV and Film monetization platform Envoi.
Envoi has agreed to license its technology platform to power the 2021 PAFF including powering the cloud services, handling customer acquisition, ticket purchasing, live streaming, and video-on-demand delivery. The partnership will provide both PAFF and all participating filmmakers and distributors in this year’s festival with the technology and cloud computing services for independently distributing and monetizing their works. In addition, the Envoi platform will power the video-on-demand streaming for all of PAFF’s virtual live events and PAFF’s newly launched TV network on the Apple, Amazon, and Android smart TV platforms.
“The film industry in the U.S. has been particularly hard hit by the global pandemic,” explained Envoi CEO Nicholas Stokes. “Traditional theatres have been closed due to COVID-19 now for 10 months and creators need solutions to monetize their content directly. Through our partnership with PAFF, we are enabling filmmakers to get their content in front of a global audience and directly monetize their creative work without giving up ownership, distribution rights, or first-person customer data. By providing creators with our enterprise customer relationship management platform “CRM” the playing field will be leveled and filmmakers will be able to directly communicate with their audience, further democratizing the management of customer acquisition and communication.”
In addition to the films, PAFF will virtually host their celebrated industry panel discussions, filmmaker workshops, SeniorFest, StudentFest, ChildrensFest, SpokenwordFest, and the PAFF LOL comedy show.
The full schedule and ticketing are available at www.paff.org.
PAFF is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (8th District); Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price (9th District); Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas (10th District); California State Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson, 64th District; Commissioner Willard H. Murray, Jr., Water Replenishment District; U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass, 37th District; U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, 43rd District; Union Bank; Brotherhood Crusade, Groundwurk; FilmLA; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute; Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences; Los Angeles Sentinel; The Wave; KPFK; Black Cultural Events; Immigrant Magazine; KJLH; Our Weekly; okayafrica; L.A. Focus; Envoi, Miss Everything Entertainment, Girl In Charge Public Relations and Empowerment Justice Strategies.
The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is supported, in part, by a grant provided by: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences; LA Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund with the California Community Foundation; and the LA County COVID-19 Arts Relief Fund administered by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture.
About the Pan African Film Festival
Gearing up for its 29th anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 200 films made by and/or about people of African descent from around the world. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live-action and animation short films.
PAFF is a non-profit corporation, founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as Willona in the TV series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in Pan African Affairs. PAFF is dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art, and creative expression.
The goal of PAFF is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience. PAFF believes film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, ethnicities, and lifestyles in an entertaining way while at the same time, serving as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.