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The Pan African Film Festival Set to Kick Off 21st Anniversary

Voodoo Psycho Thriller "Vipaka," Starring Oscar Winner Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie Selected as Opening Night Film

LOS ANGELES - The Paclip_image002_192n African Film Festival (PAFF) will celebrate its 21th anniversary in grand style with a string of highly-anticipated films. The festival will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at the headquarters of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), located at 7920 W. Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

First up: The Los Angeles premiere of the Voodoo psycho thriller, "Vipaka," directed by Philippe Caland ("Boxing Helena"), starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie. The cast includes Sanaa Latham, Nicole Ari Parker and Mike Epps.

Movie synopsis: Set in New Orleans, an earnest life-coach/author, Thomas Carter (Mackie), is mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, Angel Sanchez, (Whitaker), who delves into Thomas' teachings and uses his spiritual messages of Karma and Vipaka - that is, action and reaction -- against him to terrorize him and his family for their past sins. Lathan plays Mackie's wife. The term "Vipaka" is a Buddhist term, which means the result of Karma.

PAFF, America's largest and most prestigious international Black film festival, will take place February 7-18, 2013 at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (The theatre is situated on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Marlton Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard)

 

This year, PAFF has selected a total of 154 films, representing 34 countries -- that is, 23 documentaries, 13 short documentaries, 67 narrative features, and 51 narrative shorts. 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 www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.

 

Again this year, PAFF will take its movie goers on a cinematic journey with screenings from around the world - that is, such countries as the United Kingdom, Canada, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, 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.

Note: With the exception of the Opening Night Gala, all PAFF screenings and panels will take place at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (The theatre is situated on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Marlton Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard )

Here are a few of the festival highlights:

MAIN ATTRACTIONS

Opening Night Los Angeles Premiere

  • "Vipaka" (US/Narrative Feature/90min) | February 7, 2013 -- directed by Philippe Caland. A multi-layered, psychological thriller in which a severely disturbed contractor seeks help from a life coach to help him get past the death of his mother. What begins as honest therapy sessions soon become a twisted and dangerous psychological game, when the contractor abducts the life coach and uses his spiritual messages of Karma-action and reaction to terrorize him and his family. "Vipaka" is a buddhist term meaning "the result of Karma." "Vipaka" stars Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Sanaa Lathan, Nicole Ari Parker and Mike Epps.

Saturday Night Special, Part 1

  • "Iceberg Slim: A Portrait of a Pimp" (US/Documentary/90min) | Saturday February 9, 2013 -- directed by Jorge Hinojosa. The film examines the tumultuous life of legendary Chicago pimp Iceberg Slim (1918-1992) and how he reinvented himself from pimp to author of seven groundbreaking books. These books were the birth of Street Lit and explored the world of the ghetto in gritty and poetic detail, and made him a cultural icon for some. The documentary includes interviews with Iceberg Slim, Chris Rock, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Bill Duke, Quincy Jones, Gary Philips, Todd Boyd and Odie Hawkins.

Centerpiece Presentation World Premiere

  • "Babe's and Ricki's Inn (US/Documentary/90min) | February 14, 2013 -- directed by Ramin Niami. For more than 50 years, Laura Mae Gross (Mama Laura), an African American woman from Mississippi, brought musicians together, regardless of race, age, or gender, in a place where only the music mattered. Originally located on the legendary Central Avenue in South Central, Los Angeles, Mama Laura created a where jazz/blues spot where masters such as Johnny Lee Hooker, BB King, Albert King, and others shared the stage with new artists in an open, creative, and safe environment. Featuring original music and stunning guitar performances by some of today's most important blues artists in the world, the musicians share their life experiences and personal stories about what it means to devote your life to music, and of course, their memories of Mama Laura. Babe's and Ricky's Inn is a stunning celebration of the art, creativity, virtuosity and passion of what became a Temple to the Blues! Jam session to follow after the screening.

Saturday Night Special, Part 2

  • "Home Again" (Canada/Narrative Feature/102min) | February 16, 2013 -- directed by Sudz Sutherland. On the most fundamental level, "Home Again" asks the question: "How would you survive?" A story based in fact, the script was inspired by the practice of various governments to deport incarcerated-landed immigrants to rid itself of unwanted population. The issue is a particularly difficult problem in Jamaica where the deportee population outnumbers the prison population by seven times. There is little to no resources to help deportees establish new lives, and where the deportees are largely blamed for the serious violence that rocks the country. Jamaica has the third highest per capita murder rate in the world.
  • "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners" (US-France/Documentary/101min) | February 18, 2013 -- directed by Shola Lynch. In this historical vérité style documentary, marking the 40th anniversary of her acquittal on charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy, Angela Davis recounts the politics and actions that branded her a terrorist and simultaneously spurred a worldwide movement for her freedom as a political prisoner. At its core, the story wrestles with the meaning of political freedom in a democracy negotiated between the people and its government. The sixties and seventies were all about citizens challenging authority, or as the slogan went - "Power to the People!" Strong, attractive, and engaging, Angela Davis is one such person who became a symbol at the center of this still relevant power struggle. "Free Angela and All Political Prisoners" is executive produced by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith along with Roc Nation's Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, joining forces to bolster and assist with final funding of the documentary.

For more information about the official selections of the Pan African Film Festival, visit the festival's website at: http://www.paff.org/filmfest/films/

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 Union Bank; Macy's; Wells Fargo Bank; General Motors; Sony Pictures, CareMore; Water Replenishment District of Southern California; South African Airways; the National Film and Video Foundation; One Village; Addco Party Rentals; TestFlick; O.N.E. Coconut Water; Dama Tequila and Mascarade Liqueur; the Department of Cultural Affairs, the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; as well as Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District) and Los Angeles City Council members Bernard C. Parks (District 8), Jan Perry (District 9), and Herb J. Wesson Jr. (District 10).

IN OTHER NEWS | PAFF SNAGS AAFCA SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) will receive the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA). The festival will be recognized for its contribution to cinematic arts. PAFF will be presented with this award during the AAFCA's private awards ceremony on Friday, February 8, 2013 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, Calif.

ABOUT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL

Gearing up for its 21st anniversary, the Pan African Film and 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 the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Latin America, 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 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.