ayuko babu*For twenty years Ayuko Babu (pictured) has set at the helm of what was once perceived as an impossible dream.

Undaunted by the challenges, he trudged forth with the noble assistance of Danny Glover and Ja’Net Dubois and founded the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF). Babu is an African Affairs specialist in legal, cultural, and political affairs.   Glover and Dubois are award winning actors who are graciously involved in cultural and political activism.  The PAFF quickly established its non-profit status and has continued to promote ethnic & racial respect, as well as tolerance, through the exhibit of film, art and creative expression.

Ayuko Babu describes his sentiments about PAFF’s 20th year:

“What’s most exciting is that what we set out to do is happening in the sense that we knew that African people, African Americans, continental born Africans and Africans born in the Caribbean were really interested in our stories.  The fact is that overwhelmingly black folks (from day one) have been interested in hearing our stories and reporting our stories from around the world.”

The PAFF is embodies a spirit of celebration for filmmakers, artists and patrons but with that Babu admits to recurring challenges:

“The two most challenging issues that have always plagued Africans in this country is institutional racism and a lack of capitol.  If we had the capitol, if were funded like Cannes is funded (referring to the Cannes Film Festival), we would be off the charts. We already have more people coming to our festival than the Sundance Festival.  Sundance only has 20,000 people.  We get 35,000 to come see the films and 100,000 to come see the art.  We have no doubt that if we had capitol we could triple or quadruple the films, the interest and the energy, and we would be in more cities, and be on television more because there is an interest worldwide in black folks’ stories.”

Babu further explains his take on institutional racism as it relates to black films:

“The way institutional racism works is that the institutions that we deal with… the studios, the independent distributors, they still have a white bureau-centric view of what  black folks are interested in.  They (these institutions) make decisions institutionally based on what gets made, what doesn’t get made, what films get pushed and what doesn’t.”

In this EURweb.com Exclusive Audio, The Pan African Film Festival co-founder issues this call to action as it relates to art, culture and politics for conscientious African Americans.

Opening night promises to be a star studded crowd pleaser at the Pan African Film Festival.  Screen Gems and producer Will Packer will take the lead with the Steve Harvey film “Think Like A Man.”  That event will be hosted at the Archlight Cinerama Dome Theater in Hollywood.   The film is based on the book by Steve Harvey and is directed by Tim Story and written by Keith Merryman and David A. Newman. The stars include Michael Ealy,  Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Gary Owen and Gabrielle Union.

Unless noted, all of the other 150 films from 30 countries will be shown on 15 screens from February 9th-20th at the Rave Cinemas in the famed Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, California.

Sponsors for the 2012 Pan African Film Festival include Macy’s Wells Fargo, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Sony Pictures, The Brotherhood Crusade, The Africa Channel, The Directors Guild of America, special support by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and many others.

The Pan African Film Festival also ushers in a customized award season with 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.

For a full line up of films and for ticket information, go to www.paff.org or call (310)337-4737