Pan African Film Fest 2020 spotlights Trinidad ‘Hero’ and late director John Singleton

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The Pan African Film and Arts Festival 28 scheduled for February 11-23 in Los Angeles comes at a critical point in history where the wrongs of the past are exposed to the critical judgment of the present and a new burst of the Pan Africanist spirit is emerging on the horizon.

The Opening Night feature “Hero,” opens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 11 at the Directors Guild of America. “Hero” presents the life story of Ulric Cross, the most decorated West Indian of World War II, and is directed by Frances-Anne Solomon, reputed to be “a trailblazer in the film and television industry.” Solomon was born in England to Trinidadian parents. 

The Spotlight Screening at 7 p.m. February 12 is “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” The film directed by Joe Talbot follows a young Black man in search of the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. As he struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, his hopes blind him to the drastically changed new reality of skaters, squatters, street preachers, playwrights, and ordinary people. 

Closing Night feature is “Zulu Wedding,” directed by Lineo Sekeleoane. The fiction narrative feature captures the experience of a young Zulu woman living in Texas who has decided to marry her African American fiancé rather than the Zulu King awaiting her return to South Africa.

Each year, over 150 films from across Africa, Australia, the Americas and Europe are woven into PAFF’s expansive programming mix. Some high-end television fare is also included into the already packed cinematic lineup. What makes the festival especially important is the broad range of black life and cultures it presents on the global stage. Industry panels and workshops, arts fairs with a special emphasis on children, and poetry and musical performances round out the festival offerings.

All screenings and the art exhibits —except for the opening night feature– take place at the 15-screen Cinemark Theatres and the adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

PAFF 28 comes as the culmination of 2019, the designated “Year of Return” in select West African nations along with the African Union’s inauguration of the State of the African Diaspora in August 2019. The new official policy adopted by the African Union seeks to bring all people of African descent into an acceptable forum for common identity with Africa.   

Special honors for the late director John Singleton of “Boyz n the Hood” fame are in progress as the John Singleton Short Film Competition unfurls from December 2019 until March 15, 2020 as a joint effort between PAFF and the City of Los Angeles. At the completion of filming and final production, three of the competing filmmakers will be awarded $20,000 each for a live-action narrative short film of their winning screenplays.

 Singleton, whose parents are natives of Vicksburg, died April 29 of a stroke at age 51. He is best known for “Boyz n the Hood,” his first film that was nominated for the 1992 Academy Award. Singleton was the first African American to be nominated for the Academy Award in directing.

PAFF is a fully recognized member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science—-the Oscars—and its screening of live action and animation short films qualified for this year’s Academy Awards and other film industry considerations.

PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation with approximately 150 Black films and 100 fine artists from around the world. This year, PAFF has selected more than 150 films, representing 40 countries in 26 different languages.

PAFF’s Filmmaker Awards Brunch will close out the 12-day festival with competitors being awarded the juried prizes for Best Narrative Feature, Best First Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, and Best Narrative Short as well as audience favorites.  

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Pan African Film Fest 2020 spotlights Trinidad ‘Hero’ and late director John Singleton

By Earnest McBride
February 11, 2021