If you're lucky enough to be in the Los Angeles area next week, you'll have the opportunity to check out the 2012 Pan African Film & Arts Festival. So far, the roster of films is shaping up to be a very diverse and complex bunch, just like we like them. Filmmaker Victoria Mahoney's "Yelling to the Sky," which began rounds through the film circuit last year, will be included in the festival. An impressive debut by Mahoney, the beautifully turbulent coming of age story centers on family, bi-racial identity and adolescence and features Zoe Kravitz, Gabourey Sidibe, and Black Thought of The Roots.
The very controversial "Venus Noire" (Black Venus) will also be screening at PAFF. Based on the life of South African Saartjie "Sarah" Baartman, better known as "Hottentot Venus," French-Tunisian filmmaker Abdel Kechiche has been screening the film nationwide since 2010, and the reviews for the film have been quite mixed—no surprise given the complicated subject matter. The film stars newcomer Yahima Torres. Making its premiere at PAFF, Aravind Ragupathi and Rob Underhill's "DAR HE: The Lynching of Emment Till" brings a widely-known yet under-discussed American tragedy to the silver screen. "DAR HE" was adapted from a screenplay written by the film's lead actor Mike Wiley, who not only plays the 14 year old Till but an additional 35 characters as well (yes, that number is correct!)
Dedicated to showing multidimensional Black stories and characters since 1992, PAFF will be screening a whopping 158 films coming from all corners of the African Diaspora, including Zambia, Bahamas, Japan, and Brazil. The festival kicks off February 9th and continues through the 20th. Should frustrated black moviegoers stop hitting up the box office and attend more Black film festivals? If you're in the LA area, will you be checking out this year's PAFF festival?