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Spotlight on Diversity: The 2024 Pan African Film Festival Shines in Los Angeles

Mario Van Peebles

The 2024 Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF), held in Los Angeles from February 6-19, was a beacon of cultural richness, attracting an audience eager to explore African and African diaspora cinema and arts. Despite varying weather conditions, the festival’s opening night, centerpiece, and the closing night were met with enthusiastic crowds, highlighting Los Angeles as a vibrant hub for film enthusiasts in February.

This year’s PAFF was marked by an impressive array of films that showcased the diversity and talent within the African filmmaking community. The festival concluded with a standing-room-only awards ceremony brunch on February 19 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, celebrating the exceptional filmmakers of 2024.

Highlights of the 2024 PAFF:

Best Feature Narrative Award: “We Grown Now,” directed by Minhal Baig and starring Jurnee Smollett, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Lil Rel Howery, captivated the jury with its poignant story set in 1992 Chicago, exploring the lives of two young friends navigating their community’s challenges.

Best Feature Documentary: “Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes,” directed by Sam Pollard and Ben Shapiro, delved into the life of musician Max Roach, highlighting his musical genius and activism in the face of societal inequities.

Audience and Programmers’ Favorite: Mario Van Peebles’ “Outlaw Posse” received both the Audience Favorite Award and the Programmers’ Award for Best Narrative Feature, with its compelling blend of action, drama, and social commentary.

Ethiopian Drama “Doka”: Tied with “Outlaw Posse” for the Audience Favorite Narrative Feature, “Doka” presents a gripping narrative set against the backdrop of a regional conflict in Ethiopia, emphasizing themes of unity and resilience.

Bob Marley Biopic: “Bob Marley: One Love,” directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, won the Ja’Net Dubois Festival Award for Best Narrative Feature, offering a profound look into the life and legacy of the music icon.

The PAFF stands out not only for its celebration of film but also for its dedication to showcasing visual art and other creative expressions that reinforce positive images and help dismantle negative stereotypes. The festival’s success is a testament to the unwavering support of sponsors, partners, volunteers, and attendees, ensuring its place as a pivotal event in promoting African heritage and narratives globally.

As PAFF continues to thrive, it remains a vital platform for African storytellers, offering a unique opportunity to engage with a wide range of narratives that enrich our understanding of the African and African diaspora experience. With Los Angeles as its backdrop, the festival confirms its status as a must-attend event for film aficionados and cultural enthusiasts alike, eagerly anticipated each February.



Mario Van Peebles



Report By Lela Christine

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