— By Ricky Richardson —

Hold onto your seats – the 28th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) returns to the Cinemark Theatres and adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza this February 11-23, 2020.

Movie lovers are set to take flight on a global journey of the African diaspora through a smorgasbord of movies. No need to pack a suitcase, you will not experience jetlag after this marvelous movie marathon.

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival consistently offers movie goers unique opportunities and memorable experiences to revel in – debuts, special programs, and world premieres of independent films from the diaspora. Some movies will later be screened throughout Los Angeles. Others will find distributions deals on Amazon Prime, etc. The adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza will be transformed into an African Marketplace, both floors overflow with fantastic, one-of-a-kind arts, crafts etc.

The 28th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) will open with the film “HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Revolutionary Life and Times of Diplomat and Judge Ulric Cross,” directed by Caribbean Filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon. The festival will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala at 7:30pm on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at the Directors Guild of America (DGA), located at 7920 W. Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. This year’s theme is “20/20 Vision,” kicking off the decade with a fresh lens and solidifying its commitment to tell diverse stories with a global, luminous view. The opening night festivities will feature a Trinidad and Tobago live steel drum band and Caribbean cuisine.

I get excited each year when PAFF comes around. I know that I will be able to view great films based on a musician or a particular genre of music. PAFF never disappoints! Following is MY select list of films that I’m looking forward to viewing at PAFF. Keep in mind that there are over 150 great films that will be screened. I’m looking forward to hearing about your global journey through this year’s festival.

Buster Williams-Bass to Infinity, directed by Adam Kahan. Imagine hanging out with jazz legends Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie, hearing them jam together, trading riffs, then riffing with words & trading stories. Buster Williams-Bass to Infinity takes viewers on a splendid musical journey through his life, legacy, and America’s greatest art form- the truly universal music call JAZZ!

Fantasy, directed by Bishop Moore. This documentary discusses whether hip hop is good for the community. Features an exclusive interview with the late great Nipsey Hussle.

My Friend Fela, directed by Zito Araujo. This is an insightful presentation into the life and influences of the legendary Nigeria musician Fela Kuti, Afrobeat pioneer, activist, and Pan Africanist, through the eyes and conversation of his close friend and biographer, Carlos Moore. The movie features a great soundtrack. Sandra Izadore will partake in a Q&A following the screening.

One Chance, directed by Alcee H. Walker. This is a documentary that showcases the talent of five young teenage singers from around the country. We follow the process of each artist’s journey of finding their purpose and goal of fulfilling their musical dreams.

Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes, directed by Mark James. The compelling story of the Chin’s- The Chinese Jamaican family behind “Studio 17” a legendary recording studio located in downtown Kingston, Jamaica & at the heart of the music revolution that followed Jamaican independence in 1962. A who’s who of reggae royalty recorded at Studio 17 including Bob Marley & the Wailers, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Alton Ellis, Carl Malcolm, The Skatalites, Ken Boothe, Lord Creator and many more.

The Cuban, directed by Sergio Navarette. A wonderful friendship develops between Luis, a former famous Cuban musician and Mina his caretaker, as he reacts, reminisces, dances, and talks more and more about his colorful past.

The Gathering Roots & Branches of Los Angeles, directed by Thomas Paige. This amazing documentary featuring a who’s who of the vibrant jazz scene in Leimert Park Village. The film features players from the L.A. improvise music scene with local legends Azar Lawrence, Dwight Trible, Kamau Daaood, Michael Sessions, Ndugu Chancler, Phil Ranelin, Roberto Miranda, and Taumbu Ector. The documentary also features members of Horace Tapscott’s Pan African People’s Arkestra, Kamasi Washington, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Brandon Coleman, Randal Fisher, Nick Rosen and Joey Dosik.

Up From the Streets-New Orleans: The City of Music, directed by Michael Murphy. “Up From the Streets” offers a comprehensive look into the history of New Orleans music and its extensive influence around the world. This film celebrates life through the universal language of music.

Gearing up for its 28 anniversary, the Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 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 Pictures 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”), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as Wilona 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.

For tickets and additional information visit paff.org