Interview: Pat Prescott Talks To Pan African Film Festival Founder Ayuko Babu

by Pat Prescott

The 25th Annual Pan African film Festival will take you around the world in 10 days, without leaving LA. This festival attracts film fans from around the world who not only come to see the movies, but also to soak up the culture in the panels, special events and the very popular free ArtFest and Fashion Show.  It’s all happening at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Cinemark’s BHC 15 Theaters. Festival founder Ayuko Babu stopped by the Wave studios to tell us all about his favorite offerings for this year’s PAFF.

Thirty five thousand paid patrons are coming to see the films this year and seventy five thousand will attend the free ArtFest. It’s like taking a world tour without packing a suitcase. Babu says don’t sleep on this festival.. If you don’t stop and pay attention you’ll pass right by Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and never know about this cultural gold mine.

Babu  and his staff and volunteers have put a great deal of hard work into the festival. 200 major brand new Black films from around the world will be shown this year. Babu says when you put all these stories together, you have a more complete view of who we are. The venue is perfect too. They started 25 years ago at the Sunset 5 Theaters and then moved to the original Magic Johnson Theaters at Baldwin Hills. They went to Culver City for a few years and then returned to BHCP a couple of years ago.

The opening night film this year is called “King of The Dance Hall”. Nick Cannon directs and stars in this film set in Jamaica. There are several films about music this year including “Rain The Color Blue With A Little Red”, an African homage  to Prince’s “Purple Rain” featuring the Tuareg tribe. There is a documentary about Miriam Makeba, who brought African music to America along with Hugh Masekela and others and “Body and Soul: An American Bridge”, tells the story behind one of the most famous songs in the American Songbook. There are also movies about John Coltrane, Mary Lou Williams and Charles Lloyd.

One of the offerings Babu is most excited about is “I Am the Blues”, a film that focuses on blues legend Bobby Rush, featuring some of the most famous names in blues being interviewed in their element. Don’t miss the special screenings for seniors and the children’s activities scheduled for both Saturdays of the festival.  Many local schools also take advantage of PAFF’s Student Fest. Find out how your school can be bused to the theater to see some of the films by visiting www.PAFF.org

Festival organizers are hoping that the travel ban won’t cause problems for international film makers and film fans from coming this year. There are many patrons who come from all over the world to attend PAFF. One reason is the wealth of offerings from Africa and around the world.  Babu talked about some of them.

Hit the ground running this week and see as many of these films as you can. Don’t miss the free ArtFest either. It’s at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall, featuring clothing, jewelry, fine art, crafts and gifts from around the world.  It’s all happening beginning tomorrow, Thursday February 9th at the 2017 Pan African Film Festival.

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is being held from Thursday February 9, 2017 through Monday February 20, 2017 at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008. (Corner of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.) Tickets may be purchased online at Cinemark or at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills Cinemas 15 (formerly RAVE Cinema) box office.

For more information including a complete schedule of films and activities, visit www.PAFF.org

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