This year’s 2016 Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) is filled with various interesting films and documentaries for all to enjoy. The festival began on Thursday, February 4th and has highlighted film selections for opening, centerpiece and closing night films. From director Patrick Gilles, “America is Still the Place” made its worldwide premiere as the Opening Night film selection on February 4, 2016. “Agents of Change” is to be highlighted as the Centerpiece selection on Thursday, February 11th and closing the Festival on Sunday, February 14th is a special screening of “Miles Ahead”, directed by and starring Don Cheadle. All films will screen at RAVE Cinemas 15, located within the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza at 4200 Marlton Avenue in Los Angeles, CA 90008.
PAFF always selects and showcases films that entertain and address current topics surrounding political and socioeconomic issues, as well as subject matters which include arts & culture which affect and tell the stories about people of African descent.
“America is Still the Place” uncovers a story about a giant oil spill on the beaches of northern California and the institutional racism that Charlie Walker has to overcome in order to finally achieve the “American Dream.” Based on a true story of one Black man’s courage and perseverance to provide for his family, the film takes us on a journey during the Black Power and civil rights era in San Francisco in 1971. This seemed like a good place for a Black Korean War veteran and his family to realize their dream of economic and cultural independence and his chance to be his own boss. In the pursuit of his dream, Charlie Walker finds himself in a city full of impostors and naysayers. He refused to take “no” for an answer. When a catastrophic oil spill opened a door that had never been open to a black man before, he decides to step through the door with both feet and claim the “American Dream.”
Violence against African Americans has been at the forefront of national media headlines and the subject of debates and conversations around the world. “Agents of Change” is a ‘movement’ film which follows young men and women who were at the forefront of the student union takeover at Cornell University in 1969, as well as highlighting the graphic footage of student demonstrators at San Francisco State in 1968 being beaten and arrested by police. Directed by Abby Ginzberg and Frank Dawson, Agents of Change introduces a cast of largely unrecognized but remarkable people, whose commitment to justice and equality paved the way for the opportunities that followed, while also reminding viewers about the work yet to be done to achieve full equity and dignity on campus and in society. Stars of the film include: Danny Glover (a leader of the Black Student movement at San Francisco State), Harry Edwards, Irene Smalls and more. Music composed by Patrice Rushen.
The closing night film is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Oscar nominated actor Don Cheadle does double duty as director and star in Miles Ahead, a film based on a chronological arc of events inspired by the life of the great jazz musician Miles Davis. This is a wildly entertaining, impressionistic, no-holds barred portrait of one of 20th century music’s creative geniuses. In the midst of a dazzling and prolific career at the forefront of modern jazz innovation, The film focuses on a period of five years in the late 1970s. While away from the public light and celebrity, Davis was stifled with personal challenges. During this time, Davis meets a wily music reporter, Dave Braden, who forces his way into Davis’ house and, over the next couple of days, the two men unwittingly embark on a wild and sometimes harrowing adventure to recover a stolen tape of the musician’s latest composition. By the late 70s, plagued by years of regret and loss, Davis flirts with annihilation until he once again finds salvation in his art. Working from a script he co-wrote with Steven Baigelman, Cheadle makes his directorial debut with co-stars Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, Ewan McGregor and Michael Stuhlbarg. Miles Ahead will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in theaters on April 1, 2016.
For more than two decades, the Pan African Film & Arts Festival has premiered a host of top black films over the years. Each year, PAFF presents awards of recognition to key industry players and rising stars who have soared in the film industry. This year’s filmmaker awards will be held on Monday, February 15th and will recognize films in the categories of Best Feature Narrative, Best Director-First Feature, Best Documentary Feature and Best Short Narrative. This intimate awards breakfast will also present the Audience Awards, Programmers’Awards and Founders’ Awards.
PAFF also collaborates with festivals from around the world, expanding their influence and audience globally. Not only is PAFF the largest and most prestigious Black film festival in America, but PAFF is the largest Black History Month event in the United States, during the month of February. The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is the quintessential Black festival, celebrating films, actors, filmmakers and fine artists.
Sponsors for the 2016 Pan African Film & Arts Festival are: HBO, WRD, Film LA, UMC, Sony Pictures, Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airlines. Festival passes and tickets are on sale now. For more information on PAFF, including screening schedule and events, please visit www.PAFF.org. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.