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LA Pan African Film & Art Fest winners

The 16th ANNUAL PAN AFRICAN FILM & ARTS FESTIVAL (PAFF) today announced the winners of its 2008 Pan African Film and Arts Filmmakers Awards and Audience Favorite Awards. Jury Prizes were awarded in the following categories: Best Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Narrative Short, Best Feature, and Best Director-First Feature.

New for the 2008 PAFF is the addition of The Oscar Micheaux Award, named after the first African-American filmmaker. In addition to the Jury Prizes, Audience Favorite Awards were voted on in the following categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary, and Best Short Narrative. The PAFF Vision Award was given to the film that the Festival chose that best exemplified its mission of reinforcing positive images and helping to destroy negative stereotypes.
"We saw a record number of submissions this year, good submissions," commented PAFF Co-Founder Ayuko Babu. "Filmmakers from all over the Diaspora are telling our stories and it's a beautiful thing. From Africa, South America, to London, the Caribbean, Cuba, and back to America, this year's line-up of films was second to none and really showed not only the diversity but the intellect and richness of filmmakers when telling our stories."
The winners were selected by a jury made up of members of a wide range of industry professionals based on their body of work and respect from their peers which included: Jude Akudinobi, Neema Barnett, Chereryl Bedford, Ben Caldwell, Kai El Zabar, Jadolphus Fraser, Pamela Frazier, Carl Gilliard, Van Hayden, Norma Henry, Sherri James, Earl Richey Jones, todd Jones, Carol Lawrence, Angela Northington, Michael Norville, Bobby O'Neil, Darryl Pryor, Kevin J. Suber, Tony Winters, Beverly Wood, Marceil Wright, and Dianah 'Roneyah' Wynter. Venus Bernardo served as the 2008 PAFF Jury Coordinator.
The PAFF Filmmaker Awards were created in 1992 to honor and support visionary film directors whose work exemplified PAFF's mission of reinforcing positive images and helping to destroy negative stereotypes. The winners were presented with their awards at the annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival Filmmaker Awards Ceremony today in Los Angeles, CA.
For the 2008 Pan African Film and Arts Festival, 162 films were selected including 25 world premieres and 10 U.S. premieres representing 31 countries with 9 first-time filmmakers, 49 feature-length films, 59 documentaries, and 54 international films. These films were selected from over 2,500 submissions.
Known for showcasing new films first and recognized as America's premiere black film festival, past PAFF features have included box office and award-winning hits: Ray, Lackawanna Blues, Redemption, Crazy As Hell, Kingdom Come, The Brothers, Gridlock'd, Days of Glory, and the 2006 Academy Award® winner for Best Foreign Film, Tsotsi.
With an overall festival attendance of 200,000, the PAFF attracts a diverse audience of over 40,000 people to its films at the AMC Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15 Theaters. Each year the PAFF presents quality films from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the South Pacific and Canada, all showcasing the diversity and complexity of people of African descent. PAFF also presented one of America's largest fine art shows featuring prominent and emerging Black artists and fine craftspeople held at the BaldwinHillsCrenshawPlaza. Other signature PAFF events included over a dozen industry panels and workshops, the PAFF StudentFest®, ChildrensFest®, SpokenWord Fest®, Senior Connections®, and Comedy Night. For more information, please visit www.PAFF.org or call (323) 295-1706.

The Winners of the 2008 Pan African Film and Arts Filmmakers Awards Winners are:

PAFF VISION AWARD
NAMIBIA: THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION (Namibia/US/Director: Charles Burnett) - NAMIBIA: THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION depicts the long struggle waged by the people of Namibia for their independence that was ultimately won with the help of Cuban military volunteers fighting in Angola. The 1987 battle of Cuito Cuanavale, in which the South African army was decisively defeated, turned the tide in the liberation struggle for all of Southern Africa. This was one of the key factors that led to Namibian Independence and the election of Sam Nujoma as Namibia 's first President and forced the white supremacist South African government to free President Nelson Mandela and to negotiate with the African National Congress.
Honorable Mention
BROTHERS IN ARMS (South Africa/Doc/73min/Director: Jack Lewis) The fasinating story of Ronald Herboldt, an ordinary man whose sense of justice and decency led to his making his own unique contribution to Cuba and the liberation of Southern Africa. In December 1958, during the Cuban Revolution, Ronald was a twenty-one-year-old from Salt River, Cape Town working on a South African cargo ship, the Constantia, that had docked in Cuba to load sugar. When members of Fidel Castro's Rebel Army boarded the ship to check for arms and witnessed the mistreatment of the non-whites on board, they encouraged Ronald to jump ship. He did so and joined the rebels fighting for the liberation of Cuba from the Batista dictatorship. After the events of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis, Ronald was effectively in exile from South Africa. He married and raised a family in Cuba, but throughout his exile he never lost his love for Cape Town and his South African family or his desire to return home to a liberated South Africa.
VICTIMS OF OUR RICHES (VICTIMES DE NOS RICHESSES) (Mali/France/Doc-short/58min/Director: Kal Touré) The economic and political background of the criminalization of undocumented African workers in Europe is the subject of this eye-opening indictment of the issues of illegal immigration exposed by the testimonies of Africans who attempted to immigrate to Europe to find work. Reminiscent of slavery and strikingly similar to descriptions by illegal Mexican immigrants of the treachery of their journeys to the U.S., African men and women bear witness to tragic events and the cruel treatment they suffer during their attempts to cross into Europe through Spain via Morocco. Though many die or suffer devastating injury during their desperate journey, the economic conditions of home leave them with no alternative. As revealed by those left behind, the economic survival of family and community is often dependent on immigrants reaching Europe and finding employment so they can send money home. Adding insult to injury, we learn that the economic conditions giving rise to this mass exodus of the young and able-bodied from Africa are economic policies forced on Africa by Europeans to improve European economic conditions. Finally the atmosphere of fear increased by the possibility of being caught and deported and restarting the horrendous journey anew, discourages illegal workers from complaining of inhuman working conditions and drives down wages. Although focused on the immigration issues between Africa and Europe, it is not a far jump to transfer these same human rights issues on immigration issues between the United States and its southern neighbors.
BEST DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
RETURN TO GORÉE (Senegal/Switzerland/Luxembourg/Director: Pierre-Yves Borgeaud) - A very special musical road movie of African singer Youssou N'Dour's epic journey following the trail left by enslaved Africans and the jazz music they invented. Youssou N'Dour's challenge is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire and to sing those tunes in Gorée, the island that symbolizes th slave trade and stands to commemorate its victims. Guided in his mission by the blind pianist Moncel Genoud, Youssou N'Dour travels across the United States of America and Europe. Accompanied by some of the world's most exceptional musicians, they meet peoples and create through concerts, encounters and debates, music which transcends cultural division. From Atlanta to New Orleans, from New York to Bordeaux and Luxemburg, the songs are immersed in jazz and gospel. Features musician and writer Imamu Amiri Baraka and drummer Idris Muhammad, among others.
Honorable Mention
THIS IS THE LIFE (US/Director: Ava DuVernay) - In 1989, a collective of young artists gathered weekly at a small health food store in LA called "The Good Life." Their mandate? To explore and expand the musical boundaries of hip hop. The little known story of a group of teenagers, who revolutionized hip hop by innovating the very rhyme patterns, melodic concepts and lyrical styles used by many of today's biggest rap stars. While their innovations have yielded billions of dollars for the recording industry, the Good Life emcees have toiled in relative obscurity in the United States. But much like their jazz heroes of a bygone era, these street poets have garnered a rabid and musically sophisticated fan base abroad, with a cult-like following in Germany, Australia, France, England and Japan. A feature-length documentary, directed by former Good Life emcee Ava DuVernay, chronicles the rise and fall of an unusual family of artists, while examining their obstacles to commercial success. They all took different paths, but remain connected by the music they made, the alternative hip hop movement they developed, and their worldwide influence on the art form.
BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
HIP-HOP: BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES (US/Director: Byron Hurt) - A riveting documentary that examines representations of gender roles in hip-hop and rap music. Conceived as a "loving critique" from a self-proclaimed "Hip-Hop Head," it tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today's hip-hop culture. Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons are interviewed; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell, and Sarah Jones. The complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender are revealed through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country. The film provides thoughtful dialogue from intelligent, divergent voices of rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation.
Honorable Mention
THOMAS SANKARA: THE UPRIGHT MAN (France/Director: Robin Shuffield) - As Africa looks desperately for leaders of integrity and vision, the life and ideals of the late Thomas Sankara seem more and more relevant and exemplary with the passage of time. Though largely forgotten in the United Satates, Sankara is still venerated in Africa as a legendary martyr like Patrice Lumumba or Amilcar Cabral. With a gun in one hand and Karl Marx's works in the other, Sankara became president at the age of 34 and served from 1983 to 1987. He immediately set out to shake the foundations of the country that he renamed from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, "Land of Upright Men."
BEST NARRATIVE SHORT COMPETITION
PARIAH (US/Director: Dee Rees) - A Bronx lesbian teenager juggles multiple identities to avoid rejection from friends and family but pressure from home, school, and within corrodes the line between her dual personas with explosive consequences.
Honorable Mention
WE ARE ALL RWANDANS (Rwanda/UK/Director: Debs Gardner-Paterson) - NyangeSchool, 18th March 1997: a day in the life of six normal students who had to make the decision of their lives. Recreated in dramatic form, this is the true story of a rebel attack in post-genocide Rwanda, filmed in the school and village where the real events took place.
BEST FEATURE COMPETITION
POOR BOY'S GAME (Canada/Director: Clément Virgo) - Donnie Rose went to prison for beating a young man so brutally it left him handicapped for life. Nine years later, Donnie is out. He's a different man with only one place to go: back home to the same violent and racist neighborhood that created him. At the other end of town, the black community still wants revenge. The instrument of justice will be Ossie Paris, a devastatingly talented boxer who challenges Donnie to a match; a match Donnie's family and peers won't let him refuse. George Carvery has waited nine years to avenge his son's fate at the hands of Donnie. When finally they meet face to face, however, both realize they share a similar desire to overcome the past. As the barely contained racism boils to the surface, George and Donnie form a seemingly unlikely alliance. Their partnership makes them outcasts from both tribes, who will only be satisfied by blood in the ring. The two men get to know each other in the eye of a storm, knowing full well that their futures will be decided with the bell of the first round. Stars, Danny Glover, Rossif Sutherland, Tonya Lee Williams and Flex Alexander.
Honorable Mention
EZRA (Nigeria/France/Austria/Director: Newton I. Aduaka) - Told in a non-linear style, the story centers around a Truth and Reconcilliation Commission during which the story of Ezra's life as a child soldier is retold in flashbacks from both his point of view and that of his sister. Moving back and forth from the past to the present, the audience steps into the shoes of the tribunal judges. At the time of his introduction, now 16-year old Ezra is a somewhat hardened ex-soldier. He is angry and volatile with no memories of or remorse for the atrocities he committed during the civil war. He sees himself as a soldier and after all, a soldier's job includes killing people. He also rationalizes his murderous behavior as part of the struggle waged against the corruption and injustices of the repressive government.
BEST DIRECTOR-FIRST FEATURE COMPETITION
SOUTH OF PICO (US/Director: Ernst Gossner) - The day starts off like any other for five ordinary people. As they go about their day, there are ups and downs. They bask in the joy of hope and the disappointment of lost possibilities. As they go about the day's activities, each struggles to make meaningful human connection. They have no way of knowing that their lives will converge and never be the same as a result in a horrific tragedy that causes their lives to spiral out of control on an ordinary street, in an ordinary block, south of Pico. Stars Gina Torres, Kip Pardue, Paul Hipp, Henry Simmons and Jimmy Bennett.
Honorable Mention
THE DISCIPLE (US/UK/Director: Rodney Charles) - Seemingly free-spirited trans-cultural friends, Pete, an American mid-westerner, Jud, a Black European, and Lisa, a first generation Polish American, share a house in Los Angeles. Together with their South African friend Mary, the group is coaxed into temporarily escaping the complex lies they live when Michael, Jud's ex-military cousin, comes to visit from London. As the deadly nature of Michael's visit begins to emerge and secrets are revealed the carefree façade is peeled away and the friends are soon forced to re-evaluate their lives. Are they really free or are they slaves to dogmatic forces that they are too afraid to confront?
THE OSCAR MICHEAUX AWARD COMPETITION
SOMETHING IS KILLING TATE (US/Director: Leon Lozano) - Tate Bradley, a 25-year-old African American man, attempts to commit suicide. Surviving the ordeal, he isolates himself in his apartment--hiding from the world. The significant players in his troubled life come to check on him. With each visit, Tate is forced to face his demons. A psychological study of the strangulation and alienation of the scars left by the tragedy of child abuse and family disintergration. It bears an impact that will remain with the viewer for some time. But this is not a story of defeat and hopelessness. Rather, it is the story of hope and gathering the courage to face one's reality and institute the process of healing. It is never too late!
Honorable Mention
KINGS OF THE EVENING (US/Director: Andrew P. Jones) - Homer Hobbs, after serving two years in jail, returns home to a bleak town caught in the depths of the Great Depression - no jobs, no prospects and no hope. He is thrown together with four strangers, each struggling to survive and dig their way out of poverty: Benny, the street hustler eager to begin life anew in the sunshine of Florida; Clarence, a nobody who aches to be somebody; Gracie, the despairing owner of a boarding house who lives with a secret; and, Lucy, whose past has caught up with her and threatens the lives of those she has come to love. Starring Lynn Whitfield, Glynn Turman, Tyson Beckford, Bruce McGill, James Russo, Reginald T. Dorsey, Justin Malloy and Linara Washington.
The Winners of the 2008 Pan African Film and Arts Audience Favorite Awards are:
AUDIENCE FAVORITE: FEATURE
SOMETHING IS KILLING TATE (US/Director: Leon Lozano) - Tate Bradley, a 25-year-old African American man, attempts to commit suicide. Surviving the ordeal, he isolates himself in his apartment--hiding from the world. The significant players in his troubled life come to check on him. With each visit, Tate is forced to face his demons. A psychological study of the strangulation and alienation of the scars left by the tragedy of child abuse and family disintergration. It bears an impact that will remain with the viewer for some time. But this is not a story of defeat and hopelessness. Rather, it is the story of hope and gathering the courage to face one's reality and institute the process of healing. It is never too late!
Runner Up
CORDIALLY INVITED (US/Narr/123min/Director: Michael Fouther) - It's the day of their dream wedding and family and friends have been cordially invited to attend. In spite of the bride's dirty little secret being exposed, a meddling mother-in-law, feuding bridesmaids, and a philandering best man, the couple has vowed to make the best of their big day. Starring Freda Payne, Debra Wilson-Skelton, Lauren Christie, David Ely.
AUDIENCE FAVORITE: DOCUMENTARY
THIS IS THE LIFE (US/Director: Ava DuVernay) - In 1989, a collective of young artists gathered weekly at a small health food store in LA called "The Good Life." Their mandate? To explore and expand the musical boundaries of hip hop. The little known story of a group of teenagers, who revolutionized hip hop by innovating the very rhyme patterns, melodic concepts and lyrical styles used by many of today's biggest rap stars. While their innovations have yielded billions of dollars for the recording industry, the Good Life emcees have toiled in relative obscurity in the United States. But much like their jazz heroes of a bygone era, these street poets have garnered a rabid and musically sophisticated fan base abroad, with a cult-like following in Germany, Australia, France, England and Japan. A feature-length documentary, directed by former Good Life emcee Ava DuVernay, chronicles the rise and fall of an unusual family of artists, while examining their obstacles to commercial success. They all took different paths, but remain connected by the music they made, the alternative hip hop movement they developed, and their worldwide influence on the art form.
Runner Up
MALCOLM'S ECHO: THE LEGACY OF MALCOLM X (UK/Doc/84min/Director: Dami Akinnusi) - The words and philosophy of Malcolm X are related to today's social, cultural and political issues. Contains vintage footage of Malcolm, with commentary by such notibles as Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan (Dr. Ben).
AUDIENCE FAVORITE: SHORT DOCUMENTARY
IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA (US/Doc/78min/Director: Daniel Junge) After 14 years of a brutal civil war and a government riddled with corruption, Liberia was a nation ready for change. In January 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated President, immediately earning a place in history as the first woman elected president of an African nation. In this unique look behind the scenes, we watch the new president during the first year of her presidency, as she populates her cabinet with strong women, including her Ministers of Finance, Justice and Commerce as well as the Chief of Police. Together, these "iron ladies" tackle a four billion dollar foreign debt, indolent bureaucracy, black markets and the omnipresent threat of violent riots. Expertly straddling the dual public identities of "Old Ma", and head of state, President Sirleaf teaches generations of Liberians trained to rule and be ruled by violence and fear that the expression "compassion is revolutionary" is far more than a slogan. The stakes are high, and the outcome uncertain, but the commitment of the Iron Ladies will not falter. A joyous, inspirational testimony of the political power of women's leadership and diplomacy.
Runner Up
AMERICAN LANDING: JIMI HENDRIX LIVE AT MONTEREY (US/Doc/63min/Director: Bob Smeaton) AMERICAN LANDING traces Jimi Hendrix's remarkable transformation from obscurity to his triumph at 1967's Monterey Festival. Featuring previously unreleased performances and the entirety of his Monterey set in its original sequence - newly transferred from the original negative - with new 5.1 soundtrack mixed by Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer. Includes new and previously-unseen interviews.
AUDIENCE FAVORITE: SHORT NARRATIVE
DON OF VIRGIL JR. HIGH, THE (US/Narr-short/20min/Director: Deon H. Hayman) Donald, a nerdy Jr. High School student, finds fame and popularity amongst his peers when hustling banned sodas and snacks on his school's campus.
Runner Up
EZEKIEL (US/Narr-short/13min/Director: Keith Sam Jr.) Two brothers reunited by their mother's illness deal with the dark secret that has driven them apart. An unknown uncle arrives to bridge their gap.
About The Pan African Film and Arts Festival
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) was founded in 1992 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of cultural and racial tolerance and understanding through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression. It is the PAFFs goal to present and showcase a broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes. The 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.
2008 Pan African Film & Arts Festival Sponsors
The 2008 Pan African Film and Arts Festival sponsors help to sustain PAFF annually. This year's Festival sponsors include grants from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission as well as support from the Namibia Film Commission, Pan Afrikan Centre of Namibia, Directors Guild of America, African Ancestry, The Africa Channel, South African Consulate L.A., AMC Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15 Theaters, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 8th District Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard Parks, 9th District Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry,10th District Los Angeles City Councilmember Herb Wesson, 47th District of CA, Assembly Member Karen Bass, South African Airways, Union Bank of California, Macy's, Starbucks & Urban Coffee Opportunities, Wells Fargo Bank, Sony Pictures, Water Replenishment District of Southern California, Twentieth Century Fox, Target, PXP, UPS, Comerica Bank , French Embassy in the US, Film & TV Office in LA., TV5 Monde, Starr African Rum, Adam's Travel & Tours, Four Points by Sheraton, Budget Car Rental, eHealth Records, Black Business Association, The African Diaspora Foundation, Hip-Hop Association, African Red Tea Imports, Our Weekly Newspaper, KPFK 90.7 FM, The Electronic Urban Report, The Immigrant Magazine, African Vibes Magazine, Save the Date Media Group, LLC, Google, LaHitz Media, Sparkletts, Queen Aminah's Clothing, Valana Minerals, Simply One, and Artists Interactive.

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