Events, Film

The Pan African Film Festival Set to Take Audiences Around the World, “35 and Ticking” by Russ Parr Selected as Opening Night Film

LOS ANGELES – The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is set to take audiences around the world in eight days and back home again with the premiere of “35 and Ticking” to kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala at 7:30 p.m on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at the Culver Plaza Theatre, located at 9919 Washington Blvd in Los Angeles. The event will be hosted by two-time NAACP Image Awards nominate actor Nate Parker (“Blood Done Sign My Name” and “The Great Debaters).  A screening for the general public will begin at 8:30 p.m.

“35 and Ticking” is written and directed by Russ Parr, who holds down a day job as a syndicated radio host. The film is a romantic comedy about a group of 30-somethings, trying to figure out their love lives while coping with getting older. The film stars and ensemble cast with Nicole Ari Parker, Tamala Jones, Kevin Hart, Keith Robinson, Meagan Good, Mike Epps, Kym Whitley, Clifton Powell, Jill Marie Jones, Dondre Whitfield and Aaron D. Spear.

PAFF, America’s largest and most prestigious international Black film festival, will take place February 16-23, 2011 at the Culver Plaza Theatre. It has selected at total of 121 films, representing 31 countries, 75 feature length films (narrative and documentaries) and 46 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 more information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit or call (310) 337-4737.

“I am very excited about this year’s film selections,” says Asantewa Olatunji, the director of programming at PAFF. “I personally believe this is one of the best lineups that we’ve had in the history of the Pan African Film Festival.” She continues, “Over the years, the filmmakers from around the world have become more sophisticated in telling their stories. It’s going to be really tough for our judges to pick winners in the film competition.”

Themed, “Experience Your World,” PAFF hopes to take its movie goers on a cinematic journey with screenings from around the world – that is, such countries as Angola, Austria, Bermuda, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, South African, Nigeria, and of course, the United States. PAFF hopes these films with global appeal will open the minds of its audiences, and transport them to lands far away and back home again … without ever packing a suitcase.

Here’s a look at some of the festival’s offerings:


  • “35 and Ticking” (2011/US/Narrative Feature) – directed by Russ Parr. A romantic comedy about a group of 30-somethings, trying to figure out their love lives while coping with getting older. Ensemble cast includes Nicole Ari Parker, Tamala Jones, Kevin Hart, Keith Robinson, Meagan Good, Mike Epps, Kym Whitley, Clifton Powell, Jill Marie Jones, Dondre Whitfield and Aaron D. Spear.
  • I Will Follow (2010/US/Narrative Feature/81min) – directed by Ava DuVenay. Follow the emotional terrain of a thirty-something woman as she moves out of the home once shared with a loved one who has passed away.  As her moving day progresses, she’s sidetracked by a series of personal encounters that trigger grief, guilt and eventually, emotional freedom. Stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Omari Hardwick, Tracie Thoms, Blair Underwood.
  • The Inheritance (2010/US/Narrative Feature/90min) – directed by Robert O’Hara. Five ambitious cousins set out on a family reunion during a winter storm. They hope to please the elders and secure their inheritance, a fortune that dates back to days of slavery. During the weekend, as each of the cousins mysteriously disappears, they learn the truths about their family legacy, blood ancestor – Chakabazz, and the ultimate sacrifice they must make in exchange for their beloved inheritance. Stars Keith David, Golden Brooks, DB Woodside, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Rochelle Aytes and Shawn Michael Howard.
  • Kiss and Tell (2010/US/Documentary Feature/70min) – directed by Darryl Pitts. A poignant, thought-provoking documentary that examines “Black love” through the eyes of Black Hollywood – that is,  discussing the great love stories that moved them in cinema. Offering commentary includes Diahann Carroll, Pam Grier, Nia Long, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Billy Dee Williams, Lorenz Tate, Anthony Mackie, Morris Chestnut as well as directors Tyler Perry, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Ralph Farquhar.
  • DWB: Dating While Black (2010/US/Narrative Feature/97min) – directed by Van Elder. An honest and comedic look at the dating process through the eyes of several individuals. Two former co-workers, Eric and Alex, have been recently laid off of their jobs and they run into each other on a job interview. While searching for new jobs, they forge a personal relationship that involves Alex, a womanizing ladies man, helping the naïve and recently dumped Eric understand women better.


  • Children of God (2009/Bahamas/Narrative Feature/103min) – directed by Kareem Mortimer. Set against the backdrop of a nation grappling with violent homophobic crime and offering a scathing examination of the underlying hatred for gay people rampant in Caribbean societies. This debut narrative feature tells the stories of three very different individuals, struggling with their sexual identity.


  • Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae(2009/Switzerland/Canada/Jamaica/Documentary Feature/98min) – directed by Stascha Bader. The Rocksteady era (1966-69) is considered by some music experts to be the golden age of Jamaican music. The blend of ska, soul and R&B, Rocksteady developed the buoyant rhythms, prominent bass line, beautiful vocals and socially conscious lyrics that became Reggae. Forty years after Rocksteady’s peak, the remaining great Rocksteady singers and musicians are brought together to record an album of their greatest hits and perform live at a reunion concert.

… and from AFRICA


  • Viva Riva! (2010/DRCongo/France/Belgium/South Africa/Narrative Feature/96min) – directed by Djo Tunda Wa Munga. Riva is an operator, a man with charm and ambition in equal measure. Kinshasa is an inviting place. With petrol in short supply in DRC’s capital, he and his sidekick pursue a plot to get hold of a secret cache – barrels of fuel they can sell for a huge profit. Of course, they’re not the only-ones who want the stuff.


  • The Athlete (2009/Ethiopia/US/Germany/Narrative Feature/93min) – directed by Davey Frankel & Rasselas Lakew. Marathoner Abebe Bikila, the first black African to win an Olympic gold, ran his gold medal marathon barefoot. Impressive, sure, but Bikila’s story becomes truly remarkable following an accident that leaves him unable to walk. From Bikila’s early Olympic triumphs that made him a national hero, to the aftermath of the accident that left him paralyzed, Bikila’s ceaseless determination for greatness never wavers.


  • Perfect Picture (2009/Ghana/Narrative Feature/120min) – directed by Shirley Frimpong-Manso. In this Ghanaian cross between “Best Man” and “Soul Food” three beautiful women, pushing thirty, make bold attempts to change their lives even when destiny plays its joke on them. From a marriage that seems almost doomed from the beginning, to an affair with an unlikely candidate and the endless pursuit of love, the three friends will learn the harsh lessons of life, the challenges of marriage, the fatality of falling in love and the rewards of having a good laugh in the midst of sorrow. Ghana’s top-grossing film.


  • The First Grader (2010/UK/Kenya/Narrative Feature/120min) – directed byJustin Chadwick. Taking advantage of a 2002 Kenyan law that guaranteed free education for all, 84-year-old Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge, a veteran Mau Mau freedom fighter, shows up at his local one-room school, walking stick in hand. The sympathetic principal reluctantly turns him away, but Kimani returns the next day, and the day after that. Eventually, she allows him to stay and he ends up joining a class alongside six year-olds.


  • The Figurine (2009/Nigeria/Narrative Feature/120min) – directed by Kunle Afolayan. Two buddies and a girl — all down on their luck — have their lives changed after one of them discovers “Araromire,” a mysterious figurine in an abandoned shrine which, according to ancient legend, bestows seven years of good luck. But no one told them about the next seven years. Winner of the 2010 African Movie Academy Award for Best Feature.


  • The Manuscripts of Timbuktu (2009/South Africa/Documentary Feature/74min) – directed by Zola Maseko. All but forgotten by the West, the life of powerful Black icon and one of Africa’s greatest scholars, Ahmed Baba, is examined in the context of his life in Timbuktu along with the thousands of remarkable manuscripts of Timbuktu.

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 19th year of screening more than 100 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.

The 2011 Pan African Film Festival is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Los Angeles County Arts Fund, Macy’s, Wells Fargo Bank, Sony Pictures Entertainment, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and the Africa Channel.

For more information, please visit or call (310) 337-4737.

Photocredit: Life Magazine

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