Los Angeles Councilwoman Heather Hutt and Snowfall Actress Angela Lewis Honored

Pan African Film & Arts Festival Executive Director Ayuko Babu presents 10th District LA Councilwoman Heather Hutt with the Community Service Award at the PAFF Awards Brunch. Photo credit: Platinum Star PR

By Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA

The slate of films and fashion and visual artists highlighted at the 31st Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival were possibly the strongest in years. From the opening night of the musical beauty of “Chevalier: The Untold True Story,” directed by Stephen Williams, written by Stefani Robinson and starring Kelvin Harrison and Minnie Driver to the closing night of a thought-provoking film directed by Qasim Basir, “To Live & Die and Live,” starring Amin Joseph, Omari Hardwick, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Jeryl Prescott, PAFF delivered cinematic magic to Los Angeles.

Thousands of people attended PAFF making the Crenshaw District a hub of global opportunities to connect with the African Diaspora and beyond. The highlight for the filmmakers was the Filmmaker Awards Brunch held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on February 20, 2023. The capacity-filled space of filmmakers,  directors, producers, actors, film distributors, and others in the entertainment industry were greeted by PAFF Executive Director and co-founder Ayuko Babu who reminded attendees about our heritage and the importance of making our mark in cinematic history.

The closing event also announces the Beah Richards Rising Star Award that honors emerging Black actors who have given outstanding performances in film & television and the Community Service Award that recognizes exceptional commitment to community service. This year’s honorees are Angela Lewis and Heather Hutt, respectively.

“We need the positivity and the investment in our Black filmmakers. I understand what our films mean for our people. We know our films do real well because during pandemic we were at home and we watched and supported Black filmmakers,” said District 10 Los Angeles Councilwoman Heather Hutt upon accepting the Community Service Award from Babu.  “The Pan African Film Festival is the right platform for our films to be acknowledged and supported and I will continue to make an investment as a sponsor to make sure that this goes on for years.”

This year’s PAFF event, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was presented by Stocker Street Creative, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and FX Networks.

Global Economist Dr. E. Lance McCarthy and Digital Davos speaker attends the 31st Pan African Film Festival opening night. Dr. Lance advises the George Floyd Foundation and co-founded the Ferguson 1000. He assists non-profit organizations, churches, corporations, athletes and cities with its economic development and financing plans. Photo: Platinum Star PR.

“Art is an economic indicator and Councilwoman Heather Hutt led the way to make sure PAFF happened,” said Global Economist Dr. E. Lance McCarthy and Digital Davos speaker. “As we look at growth in urban areas like Leimert Park and the Crenshaw District, it will take public and private dollars to do such. We are fortunate to have a visionary and community leader in the 10th District who has the local and national connections.” 

Mother-to-be Angela Lewis, with husband, J. Mallory McCree was honored by PAFF for the Beah Richards Award. Past winners include Tessa Thompson and Regina King.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award and it is not lost on me as I am closing six years on the show, that the repetition of the layers of legacy in which I am a part of the legacy of Snowfall, the legacy of Award-winning Director John Singleton and the legacy Award-winning Actress and Oscar nominee Beah Richards,” said Angela Lewis, actress from Snowfall as Louie, when she accepted the Beah Richards Award. “The legacy of these amazing actresses who I come behind and stand next to some of whom are my favorite actresses, so I am incredibly overwhelmed, honored and grateful to be a part of all of these lineages.”

The FX series “Snowfall,” is in its final season. Season six of “Snowfall” premieres on February 22, 2023.

Snowfall Actress Angela Lewis receives the Beah Richards Award from Pan African Film & Arts Festival Executive Director and Co-Founder Ayuko Babu. Photo: Platinum Star PR

This year’s festival included 150 films from 40 countries. If you missed the event, PAFF is offering encore access to a virtual screening to a limited number of films at www.paff.org between February 21-March 31, 2023, with new films added weekly.

“Many films sold out during our in-person run at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills & XD,” said PAFF Head Programmer Asantewe Olatunji. “We want the PAFF community to have another opportunity to watch these impactful films.”

The full list of Pan African Film Festival Award Winners:

Best Feature Narrative
Rye Lane (UK)
Director: Raine Allen-Miller

Best First Feature Narrative
A Song From the Dark (Nigeria/UK)
Director: Ogo Okpue

Best Feature Documentary
King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones (France/US)
Director: Harriet Marin Jones

Best First Feature Documentary
Wade in the Water: A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture (US)
Director: David Mesfin

Best Short Narrative
True Story: God Tells Bad Jokes (US)
Director: Matthew Law

Best Short Documentary
American Justice on Trial: People vs. Newton (US)
Directors: Andrew Abrahams & Herb Ferrette

Programmers’ Award: Best Narrative Feature
The Honeymoon (S.A.)
Director: Bianca Isaac

Programmers’ Award: Best Documentary Feature
The Africologist: The Chronicles of Africa (Cape Verde/Egypt/Ghana/Guinea Bissau/ Kenya/Morocco/Senegal/S.A./Tanzania)
Director: Valerio Lopes

Programmers’ Award: Best Short Narrative
Raw Materials (Jamaica)
Director: Sosiessia Nixon-Kelly

Programmers’ Award: Short Documentary
Team Dream (US)
Director: Luchina Fisher

Best Narrative Feature
Dancing the Twist in Bamako (Senegal/Mali/Italy/France/Canada)
Director: Robert Guédiguian

Best Documentary Feature
Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet (US)
Director: Yvan Iturriaga & Francisco Nuñez

Best Short Narrative
We Were Meant To (US)
Director: Tari Wariebi

Best Short Documentary
Ifine (US/Sierra Leone)
Director: Adisa Gilbert & Ebony Gilbert

#PAFFNOW #PAFF31 #PAFFROOTS #PlatinumStarPR #DrLanceMcCarthy #AyukoBabu #HeatherHutt #AngelaHutt