For Immediate Release
The Pan African Film Festival Announces Films in Competition
Oscar nominee, “Chico & Rita” Leads the Pack and
Set to Screen at the Film Festival
LOS ANGELES – In this busy awards season, it’s only fitting that the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) announces its films in competition, and leading the pack is “Chico & Rita,” which nabbed an Academy Awardâ nomination for “Best Animated Film” last week. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, PAFF isAmerica’s largest and most prestigious international Black film festival. It will take place February 9-20, 2012 at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at theBaldwinHillsCrenshawPlaza. (The theatre is situated onMartin Luther King Jr. Boulevard betweenMarlton Avenue andCrenshaw Boulevard)
It has selected a total of 160 films, representing 30 countries, 91 feature length films (narrative and documentaries) and 67 short films. The festival will hand out 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 at the close of the festival. For a complete list of films, visit www. paff.org
“The film competition is the most important component of the festival,” said Ayuko Babu, founder and executive director of PAFF.” “The competition really sparks the creativity of young filmmakers and raises the bar in the storytelling on film.”
About Academy Award-nominated film “Chico & Rita” | Best Animated Feature Film
Audiences at PAFF will be the first to see the surprise Oscar-nominated film, “Chico & Rita, directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando.
Cuba, 1948. This fantastic animation finds two young African Cubans making music and singing, blending Dizzy Gillespie’s and Charlie Parker’s new bebop jazz with Afro-Cuban-Yoruba rhythms of Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria to create a new and exciting sound on the planet. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unite them, but their journey — in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero — brings heartache and torment. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds of the unsavory music business to unite in music and love. Legendary master musicians Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo, Mongo Santamaria make animated appearances. With an incredible Latin and jazz soundtrack, this beautiful multi-award-winning animation has received sensational reviews throughout the world. By the way, the film has an excellent Oscar pedigree: co-director Fernando Trueba won the Academy Awardâ in 1994 for Best Foreign-language Film, “Belle Époque.”
PROGRAMMING NOTE: “Chico & Rita” (Cuba, 2010) will screen at PAFF on at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2012.
Here’s a look at the other films in competition:
BEST FEATURE NARRATIVE
- 96 Minutes (2011/US/Narrative Feature/85min) – directed by Aimee Lagos. The harrowing story of four kids caught in the terrifying maelstrom of a carjacking. Intercutting between the car and the beginning of that day, we follow the separate stories of each kid – where they come from, who they are, and how they all ended up in one car on this fateful night.
- Chico & Rita (2010/Cuba/Narrative Feature/94min) — directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando. Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unite them, but their journey – in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero – brings heartache and torment. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds to unite in music and love.
- David Is Dying (2011/UK/Narrative Feature/90min) – directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson. A young, successful hedge fund manager has just been told that he is HIV positive. He is informed of the possibility that his fiancée and unborn child could also be infected. Through an intense therapy session with his psychiatrist, David takes us on a pernicious journey that starts twelve months prior, exposing the women, the sex and the demons. David knows that he will die and he can live with that. But before that he must resolve the ghosts of his past before he can face his end. A disturbing psychodrama that illustrates the ugly side of love and tragic passion.
- Donovan’s Echo (2011/Canada/Narrative Feature/90min) — directed by Jim Cliffe. Donovan Matheson is a brilliant mathematician who, as a young man, helped to develop the atomic bomb. Plagued by regret in the years that followed, Donovan grew obsessed with making a positive contribution to the scientific community, neglecting family and friends in favor of personal and professional redemption. His neglect results in the accidental death of his wife and young daughter and he is overcome with guilt, withdrawing from life and relationships for decades.
- Ghett’a Life (2011/Jamaica/Narrative Feature/105min) – directed by Chris Browne. An “against the odds” action drama set in a politically turbulent inner city community of Kingston, in which Derrick, a determined inner city teenager, realizes his dream of becoming a champion boxer despite a country, community and family conflicted by divisive political system.
- Inside Story: The Science of HIV/AIDS (2011/South Africa/Narrative Feature/98min) — Kalu, a young man from rural Kenya, dreams of a professional soccer career. He moves to South Africa, begins a promising relationship with the coach’s daughter and is on the verge of soccer stardom when he learns he is HIV positive. Kalu guides us through the progression of HIV in his body from the moment of infection to the effect of antiretroviral therapy.
- Ties That Bind (2011/Ghana/US/Narrative Feature/100min) – directed by Leila Djansi. Adobea, Buki and Theresa are women from different walks of life bound together by a similar pain–the loss of a child. In a destined meeting in a small village in Kroboland, West Africa, the women journey to love, life and redemption as they renovate a dilapidated clinic for the village.
- Toussaint L’Ouverture (2012/France/Narrative Feature/180min) – directed by Philippe Niang. The long-awaited two-part action epic film of the life of Haitian revolutionary, Toussaint L’Ouverture who led the first successful slave revolt in world history by giving the imperialist armies led by Napoleon Bonaparte their first defeat and winning independence from France.
- We the Party (2011/US/Narrative Feature/min) – directed by Mario Van Peebles. A cutting edge hip-hop infused dramedy about the first generation of high schoolers to come of age during the Obama years. The film features some of the latest teenage bands and dance crews.
BEST DIRECTOR FIRST FEATURE
- A Small Town Called Descent (2011/South Africa/Narrative Feature/120min) – directed by Jahmil Qubeka. In a remote part of South Africa, a heinous crime is committed. Three detectives from the infamous and elite Scorpion Investigating unit are sent to the town called Descent to investigate the death of a Zimbabwean man. To get to the truth, the detectives begin to uncover secrets that the town has refused to reveal.
- Better Mus’ Come (2011/Jamaica/Narrative Feature/104min) — directed by Storm Saulter. An urban love story unfolds against a backdrop of political turmoil. In 1970s Jamaica, Ricky, a young man from an inner city community, fights against all the odds to escape the prevailing hardships of life in the ghettos of downtown central Kingston.
- Destiny of Lesser Animals, The (Sibo ne kra, Dabo ne kra) (2011/Ghana/US/Narrative Feature/89min) – directed by Deron Albright. A beautifully photographed crime thriller with a unique look at modern Africa takes its viewers on the dangerous journey of Police Inspector Boniface Koomsin who is desperate to return to the United States.
- Elza (2011/Guadaloupe/France/Narrative Feature/80min) — directed by Mariette Monpierre. Bernadette, a single mother in Paris, tries to provide her daughters with everything. She is thrilled when her eldest daughter, Elza, is the first in the family to graduate from college, earning a master’s degree summa cum laude. But Elza breaks her mother’s heart by running away to their native Guadeloupe in search of a distant childhood memory: the father she barely remembers.
- High Chicago (2011/Canada/Narrative Feature/98min) – directed by Alfons Adetuyi. Inspired by a true story and set in 1975, a gritty yet beautifully accomplished drama about Sam, a 42-year-old husband and father of three, in the grip of a serious gambling addiction.
- House Arrest (2011/US/Narrative Feature/104min) – directed by William Washington. Chanel is a beautiful, high-maintenance woman involved with DeAndre, her hustler boyfriend. When she is arrested for being an accomplice to his criminal activities, she is placed on house arrest while she awaits trial, forcing to live in her old neighborhood with her religious grandmother, Mee-Mah, who is raising her daughter.
- Playing Warriors (2011/Zimbabwe/Narrative Feature/78min) – directed by Rumbi Katedza. Set in present day Zimbabwe, Nyarai is a top executive with a leading advertising agency who enjoys romantic escapades as long as they are not serious. Her traditional parents are not satisfied, insisting that she needs to get married and be an example for her basketball-playing tomboy younger sister. When Nyarai finds out that her cousin Nonto is getting married, she and her traditionally challenged friend Maxi are set into a frenzy at the thought that their time to find ‘Mr. Right’ may be running out.
- Single Hills — (2011/US/Narrative Feature/76min) directed by Wilkie Cornelius. A colorful comedic-drama about a young couple facing the end of an “undefined” relationship. Jay, the film’s protagonist, is afraid to give Lisa, his long-term companion, the commitment she has wanted for five years, and eventually loses her to a more appreciative man
- All Me: The Life & Times of Winfred Rembert (2011/US/Documentary/75min – directed by Vivian Ducat. When artist Winfred Rembert could no longer support his family through operating heavy equipment and working on the Bridgeport, CT docks, he turned to a technique he had learned while a prisoner on a Georgia chain gang during the late 1960s–tooling his life story on leather. Within in a couple of years, his leather work had sold to a world of white collectors across New England.
- An African Election (2010/Ghana/Documentary/86min) — directed by Jarreth Merz. A remarkable documentary that grants viewers unprecedented access to the anatomy of Ghana’s 2008 presidential election.
- Brooklyn Boheme (2011/US/Documentary/80min) – directed by Diane Paragas and Nelson George. A historical documentary and a personal essay by co-director Nelson George about a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood that was home base to an extraordinary community of Black and Hispanic artists in the ’80s and ’90s.
- The Education of Auma Obama (2011/Germany/Documentary/79min) – directed by Branwen Okpako. A compelling character sketch of the internationally-educated half-sister of President Barack Obama. Born of the same father but raised by a different mother in the family’s Kenyan compound, Auma describes a life of intellectual inquiry and social activism that mirrors the future president’s.
- FunkJazzKafé: Diary of a Decade (2011/US/Documentary/142min) — Jason Orr. Spanning the late 1980s through the early 2000s, this story goes deep into the fabric of soul music, its definitions, its pioneers, its offspring, its movements, the challenges with the “mainstream” industry and the evolution of the FunkJazz Kafé, a music and arts movement born of Atlanta’s diverse musical heritage
- Mama Africa (2011/South Africa/Germany/Finland/Documentary/90min) — directed by Mika Kaurasmäki. The life and work of the incredible Miriam Makeba is remembered in this lovingly sculpted celebration of the activist/singer affectionately known as “Mama Africa.” She was the first African musician to win international stardom, one whose music was always anchored in her South African roots, as was her ceaseless message against racism and poverty.
- My Heart of Darkness (2011/Sweden/Documentary/93min) – directed by Staffan Julén and Marius van Niekerk. Four war-veterans from different sides of the Angolan war step onto a boat at the mouth of the Kwando River, deep within the African interior. They are on a journey back to past battlefields, the sites where they as youngsters tried to kill each other.
- Sobukwe: A Great Soul (2011/South Africa/Documentary/110min) – directed by Mickey Madoda Dube. One of South Africa’s unsung heroes, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, was destined to change people’s lives. He lit the fire for protests like that at Sharpeville, an historic moment that led to his arrest and subsequent nine-year detainment under a special amendment that became known as the Sobukwe Clause. Sobukwe became an international icon whose passing led to a special session at the United Nations.
- The Story of Lover’s Rock (2011/UK/Documentary/96min) — directed by Menelik Shabazz. Lover’s Rock, often dubbed ‘romantic reggae,’ is a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Live performance, comedy sketches, dance, interviews and archive shed light on the music and the generation that embraced it.
BEST SHORT FILM
- Burned (2011/US/Narrative Short/21min) – directed by Phyllis Toben Bancroft. A drama about a female Air Force veteran/firefighter who has returned from Iraq with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- The Christmas Tree (2011/US/Narrative Short/12min) – directed by Angel Kristi Williams. A struggling, single father prepares to spend the first Christmas alone with his daughter, but when their tree is lost on Christmas Eve and he has no money to replace it, he is forced to make tough decisions.
- Dear Me (2010/US/Narrative Short/16min – directed by Ka’ramuu Kush. A gifted writer struggles with a debilitating bout of writer’s block in the stylistic mélange of live/still photography.
- Doorways (2011/US/Narrative Short/19min) – directed by Tosin Coker. After surviving an abusive relationship, a woman must care for her 8-year-old son. Placing her dream of becoming a singer on hold, she takes a menial job. One day, fate stumbles across her path, placing her life on a course that reignites her dream
- Junior and the Saint (2011/US/Narrative Short/15min) – directed by Lamont Stephens. After his wife abandons them to pursue her own dreams, a champion boxer splits his time between training and raising his 6-year-old son. When she returns, old wounds are opened.
- Karim (2011/US/Narrative Short/12min) — directed by Carl Seaton. A custodian witnesses a deeply traumatic event. To cope with this, he abruptly decides to take action to rectify the situation the only way he feels he can –a unique look at the perception of prey and predator.
- Of Mary (2011/US/Narrative Short/8min) – directed by Adrian Lester. Jason Lawrence returns home to find he is estranged from his wife and son. In this broken family, choices are being made that will affect them forever.
- Salvation Road (2010/US/Narrative Short/17min) – directed by Karamuu Kush. Business becomes unusual for an unsuspecting hit man when he is witnessed murdering his traitorous mentor by a 9-year-old boy.
- The Truth (2011/US/Narrative Short/15min) – directed by Hill Harper. After a succession of late work nights, unexplained whereabouts and suspicious behavior, a man, suspecting that his wife is being unfaithful, demands to know the truth which devastates their marriage and forever changes their lives, while imparting an important life lesson.
- Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears (2010/US/Narrative Short/20min) — directed Raafi Rivero. A smart, irreverent coming of age comedy about a student on the eve of his graduation from Princeton University who must decide between a career and marriage to his college love.
- Umkhungo (The Gift) (2011/South Africa/Narrative Short/28min) directed by Matthew Jankes. On the run from superstitious family members, an orphaned boy with uncontrollable superpowers is rescued by a disillusioned street thug who is haunted by the loss of his brother several years earlier.
About the Pan African Film Festival
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival, is gearing up for its 20th year of screening more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.
PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as the busybody neighbor Willona in the tv series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in African Affairs. PAFF is a non-profit corporation 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, and lifestyles, while at the same time, serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.
For more information, please visit www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.
The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is an official event of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa’s Celebration of African American Heritage Month. PAFF is sponsored by Macy’s; Wells Fargo Bank; AIDS Healthcare Foundation; City of Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; as well as Los Angeles Council members Bernard C. Parks (District 8), Jan Perry (District 9), and Herb J. Wesson Jr. (District 10); Sony Pictures Entertainment; The Brotherhood Crusade; The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Africa Channel; South African Airways; The Directors Guild of America; and The Water Replenishment District of Southern California.
Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.