paff womens panel*Los Angeles – The Pan African Film and Arts Festival is the largest and most prestigious international Black Film festival in the United States.

The popular festival was held from Thursday,February 7th through Monday,February 18th,2013. The art festival is held inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza,while the film festival is held at the 15-screen Rave multiplex. The festival draws more than 35,000 people from across the globe to the heart of the historic Crenshaw district.

I have witnessed how the festival has grown significantly over the past 15 years to include the screenings of 160 films from across the world,a fine art show, a Spoken Word Fest, comedy,fashion show and other related events. The art show consists of upwards of 100 established and emerging fine artists to showcase fine art,sculpture, photography,unique crafts,home furnishing, jewelry and designer fashions and accessories that highlight the artistry and beauty of the African aesthetic.

I wasn’t able to see as many moves this year. Several engaging panel discussions easily made my journey to the 21st Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival worth my time.

On Sunday, February 10th,the Pan African Film Festival Film Institute gathered a distinguished panel of black intelligentsia for a compelling,engaging and lively dialogue. The PAFF Film Institute was a three-day lyceum series, featuring intensive workshops on various subjects,pertaining to the entertainment industry, such as acting,producing,directing,writing,distribution and marketing. Industry leaders,actors,actresses,directors,writers and film critics were tapped to participate in panel discussions and workshops to engage and entertain festival goers, filmmakers on the daily business of making entertainment profitable.The Film Institute was presented by Shadow and Act.

The first panel discussion that I attended with a large group of festival goers were “Django Unchained: A Discussion on Slavery and 150th Year Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.” The panel was moderated by Dr.Melina Abdullah-An Acting Chair and Associated Professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. The leading thinkers and tastemakers on the panel consisted of Dr. Gerald Horne-The John J. and Rebecca Moore Chair of History & African-American Studies at the University of Houston, Ayuko Babu-Founder and Executive Producer of Pan African Film and Arts Festival, Ed Rampell-a Film Critic and Author, Ise Lyfe and Aminah Bakeer Abdul-Jabbaar. Dr.Melina Abdullah set the tone of the discussion with a opening remarks to get the dialogue underway.

Ayuko Babu stated “that there was both negative and positive aspects about the movie,the negative was the overall negative portrayal and impressions of African Americans.The positive aspect was that is showed African Americans in defiance.We are not complacent.”

Dr.Horne stated “the movie was a useful vehicle for discussion.” “The movie lacks credibility in that the movie lacked accurate information about the total,true African American experience.”

Aminah Bakeer Abdul-Jabbaar stated “this movie was nothing but a love story,and that there wasn’t anything to celebrate in Broomhilda’s, Coco or Sheba’s passive characters as depicted in the movie.” Ise Lyfe state “this is a propaganda movie.” Followed by an overview of African-Americans in cinema by Ed Rampell.This conscious raising, powerful,thought provoking discussion went on for two hours.It probably could have easily gone on for several more hours.

This panel was followed by Black Women in Film and TV featuring Kim Whitley, IssaRae,Debra Martin Chase,Salli Richardson-Whitfield,moderated by Bill Duke.

Reginald Hudlin, Oscar-nominated Filmmaker for Best Picture of “Django Unchained” was the closing keynote speaker.He addressed the “State of Black Entertainment” in a dynamic speech.

The Pan African Film and Arts Festival is held from Thursday,February 7th through Monday, February 18th,2013.For more information,plese visit www.paff.org

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer,writer and photographer.contact him via: liltampared@netzero.net