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Pan African Film & Arts Festival

The 18th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF), America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival, runs from February 10 through 17, 2010 at the Culver Plaza Theatres, 9919 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, California.

The accompanying Fine Arts Show is being held February 12-15, 2010 at the Westfield Culver Plaza, 6000 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, California.

The Pan African Film and Arts Festival is an official event of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Black History Month Celebration. The 2010 Celebrity Host is acclaimed actress CCH Pounder (Avatar, Brothers, Warehouse 13).

The Opening Night feature is the world premiere of Blood Done Sign My Name, starring Nate Parker (The Great Debaters) as notable Civil Rights activist Dr. Ben Chavis, who is expected to attend, Other cast members include Lela Rochon, Omar Benson Miller, Afemo Omilami and Ricky Schroder. Jeb Stuart directed his own screenplay. This Opening Night Gala is being held at the Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles.

The 2010 PAFF Lifetime Achievement Award honoree is Glynn Turman (Cooley High, The Wire), presented at the PAFF Night of Tribute. This star-studded red carpet event is televised on the Africa Channel and shown throughout Africa, the Caribbean and Europe.

Other honorees:

Pioneer Award – director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, A Man Apart)
Beah Richards AwardTatyana Ali (Love That Girl)
Canada Lee Award – Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Blood Done Sign My Name)
PAFF/African Channel Visionary Award – Nigerian filmmaker and founder of the African Academy of Motion Pictures Peace, Anyiam-Fiberesima
Community Service Award – LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

The Centerpiece Presentation is the documentary 41st & Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Black Panthers, directed by Gregory Everett. The film explores the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party from its glorious Black Power beginnings through to its tragic demise. Despite the Party’s formation of free medical clinics and a successful breakfast program for children, the L.A. chapter was also known as the most violent Black political group in the United States.

The film includes both archival footage and many interviews with former Party members, including surviving original members, many of whom will be present for the panel discussion after the screening.

In addition, the PAFF is holding numerous screenings of the powerful film Haiti: the Sleeping Giant, directed by Love Joel Aryeetey, to raise money for Haitian relief efforts. 100% of the proceeds raised from ticket sales will be donated to the Haitian Emergency Relief Fund. The PAFF is encouraging attendees to make it a point to include this film in their must-see list. Aside from providing the highly needed assistance for Haiti, the film provides a comprehensive understanding of the historical and political history that has led to Haiti’s current condition.

The Closing Night presentation is Freedom Riders, directed by Stanley Nelson. This is the powerful, harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of eight months that changed America forever. From May until December 1961, more than 400 Black and White Americans risked their lives. Many endured savage beatings and imprisonment, often for simply traveling together on buses as they journeyed through the Deep South. Discussion will follow afterward with former Freedom Riders Dr. Robert Singleton, Helen Singleton and former Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Farrell, who will share their experiences.

Other features include:

All My Life / Toul Omry, directed by Yetnayet Bahru. When a young man’s longtime lover leaves him to marry a woman, and his best friends drift away, he comes face to face with the harsh realities of life as a gay man in Egypt.

Darfur, directed by Uwe Boll. American journalists in Sudan are confronted with the dilemma of whether to return home to report on the atrocities they have seen, or to stay behind and help some of the victims they have encountered. Starring Billy Zane, Edward Furlong, Hakeem Kae-Kazim.

From A Whisper, directed by Wanuri Kahiu.  A Kenyan family is caught up in the bombing of the American Embassy by Islamist terrorists. Abu, a Muslim intelligence officer investigating the bombing, has a deep, complex friendship with one of the terrorists. Winner of Best Picture in Africa last year at the Africa Movie Awards.

Documentary Features include:

Rwanda Beyond the Deadly Pit
, directed by Gilbert Ndahayo.  A Rwandan aspiring filmmaker emotionally resurfaces to confront his parents’ murderers. Filmed over the course of three years, this is the first film ever made by a genocide survivor.

Stolen, directed by Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw. This film confronts the all-too-real issue of modern day slavery as Black Saharawis reveal to the filmmakers, despite the grave risks, that they are enslaved.

Sweet Crude
, directed by Sandy Cioffi. This film examines the politics, the people and the spin surrounding the policies regarding oil in the Nigerian Delta, one of the most oil rich regions on Earth.

Shorts include:

Charity, directed by Lansana Mansaray. The film explores delicate family dynamics in desperate times, as a reflection of the mixed blessing of the massive amount of international support and assistance Sierra Leone received during the UN peacekeeping mission.

Killer Necklace, directed by Judy Kibinge. A young man from a sprawling Nairobi ghetto, trying to stay away from the enticements of crime, longs to buy his girlfriend the gold necklace that she covets.

Documentary Shorts include:

A Day Without Mines, directed by Adisa. In Sierra Leone, the filmmakers embark on a journey to excavate the children from the diamond mines by hosting an all day soccer tournament.

The Little Princess and the Sand School, directed by Stéphanie Gillard. In Mali, Tuaregs try to keep their traditional way of life as nomadic shepherds and at the same time to participate actively in contemporary social changes, so school has become a matter of survival.

Panels and workshops include:

A Directors Roundtable
It’s Legal…So Write, Right?
Breaking Into Reality TV
Hiring Film Composers: Avoiding 7 Common Costly Mistakes
Acting on the Web: Testimonies from the Frontlines of the Online Revolution
Creating for the Web: New Visions for a New Frontier
Promoting Your Independently Produced Film…The Right Way

One of PAFF’s most popular special programs is the StudentFest, which provides free arts education for over 10,000 students from the Los Angeles Unified School District and throughout Los Angeles County. Students view age appropriate specially programmed films and have discussions with film and community professionals in the morning and in the afternoon tour the fine arts market where they interact with the artists.

The PAFF also includes a Children’s Fest, which entertains over 1,000 children, ages 4-12, and their parents with Free film screenings, storytelling, refreshments and interactive activities. Among the films shown is The Princess and the Frog.

The Fine Art Show features over 100 fine artists and craftspeople from around The world showcasing The best in Black fine art, sculpture, photography, unique handmade crafts, home furnishings, designer jewelry, designer fashions and accessories that highlight The artistry and beauty of the African aesthetic.

For more information, visit  

Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF)
February 10-17, 2010

Culver Plaza Theatres
9919 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Fine Arts Show
February 12-15, 2010

Westfield Culver Plaza,
6000 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA

The Berlinale Turns 60

The Berlin International Film Festival, running February 11 to 21, hits the big Six-O this year. Set in the capital of Germany, the "Berlinale," as it's popularly dubbed, holds an exalted place in the pantheon of film festivals. Not only is it known as a hotbed of quality work, but, with nearly 500,000 annual admissions, it's also said to be the largest publicly-attended cinema showcase.

This year's edition kicks off with the world premiere of Apart Together (Tuan Yuan), about a former soldier who returns to Shanghai to seek his 1949 love. Attending Berlin's birthday celebration will be the film's Chinese director and 2007 Golden Bear winner, Wang Quan'an, as well as key cast members.

That's more than can be said of Polish-French director Roman Polanski, whose new thriller, The Ghost Writer, will have its world premiere on February 12, but who is serving his sixth month of house arrest in Switzerland.

That the 70-something Oscar-winner remains mired in a child rape case decades older than the victim is now partly explains the hum surrounding this story of a writer (Ewan McGregor) who tripwires over a global conspiracy while penning the former British premier's (Pierce Brosnan, channeling Tony Blair) memoirs.Is it just me, or does this sound like another law-of-the-jungle misadventure from German filmmaker and this year's Head of the Jury, Werner Herzog?

Also from the legal and moral murk comes Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl, with actor James Franco as beat poet Allen Ginsberg during the 1957 obscenity trial involving his publisher. Other US contenders for first prize include Noah Baumbach's Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller in an adult coming-of-age tale set in Manhattan. Playing out of competition is a Cold War-era thriller from Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island. Dennis Lehane's novel provides the brief for a U.S. marshal (Leonardo DiCaprio), who probes a psychiatric prisoner's sudden disappearance.
From the UK, there's The Killer Inside of Me, about a Texan deputy sheriff who turns out to be a  homicidal maniac. (Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM] was published on the eve of the Festival.) The thriller by 1995 Golden Bear nominee Michael Winterbottom stars Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Bill Pullman and Jessica Alba
Hollywood won't be the only star system to twinkle in Berlin. Bollywood nova Shah Rukh Khan is expected to dazzle his Berlinale fans with My Name Is Khan, about an Indian Muslim facing down prejudice in post 9/11 America. (It opens in the U.S. February 12.) Shahada echoes similar themes in its portrait of young Muslims living and struggling in Berlin.
Europe is represented by Mammuth, with Gerard Depardieu as the lead, and Thomas Vinterberg's newest work, Submarino
In addition to Apart Together, Chinese productions gracing the Festival include A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop, from Golden Bear-winning director Zhang Yimou, and the latest Jackie Chan kung-fu comedy.
As ever, the Berlinale will screen classic works from the archives. This year, audiences will see a restored version of Fritz Lang's original 1927 silent film, Metropolis, thanks to the 2008 discovery of a negative containing scenes that had been long been considered lost.
The Festival, which runs through February 21, will woo young viewers with "Generation," one of three out-of-competition events. Presented in collaboration with the Berlinale Talent Campus, the slate spans Ghanian/Kenyan director Hawa Essuman's Soul Boy; Helmut Dziuba's Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre; and a cleaned up version of the documentary Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today.
Themes of "family and reunions" undergird many of this year's films, explained Festival director Dieter Kosslick. Right on time for the new DSM....

For more info and a complete schedule:

Berlin International Film Festival
Feb. 11 - 21 2010
Potsdamer Straße 5

10785 Berlin
phone +49 · 30 · 259 20 · 0
fax +49 · 30 · 259 20 · 299

"It Came From Thon!" Boston Sci Fi Film Fest

The 35th Annual Boston Science Fiction Film Festival is being held February 5-15, 2010 at the Somerville Theatre, located at 55 Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts (adjacent to Boston). This year, the Festival expands to 10 days with over 70 films submitted from all over the world. The venerable genre fest will highlight a new feature or shorts program every night, culminating in the traditional non-stop 24 hour marathon starting noon on February 14.

The 'Thon, as it affectionately came to be called, is something special. It began as a 24-hour film marathon when, in 1976, the now-defunct Orson Welles Cinemas held a 24-hour science-fiction retrospective. SF1 started at noon on the Sunday of Presidents Day weekend and ended at noon the following day.

Every year since then, 'Thon has bloomed in winter to bring a community of SF lovers together, sharing one room for 24 straight hours of classics, premieres, cartoon, schlockers and everything in-between.

This year's highlights:

The opening-night film is Sleep Dealer, an award-winner out of Mexico directed by Alex Rivera.  In this visually stunning film, water is used for blackmail, security has reached new dimensions, and "sleep dealers" work in factories.

One of the New England premieres is Mutant Swinger from Mars, directed by Michael Kallio.  Here, Martians come to Earth and force a mad scientist to create a "chick magnet."  This lovingly rendered sci-fi spoof parodies films like Young Frankenstein, The Ape Man and The Nutty Professor, with equal measures of Ed Wood and William Castle thrown in.

Making its world premiere is Caller ID, directed by Eric Zimmerman, a psychological sci-fi thriller based on real voicemail messages received from a disturbed woman. A group of graduate students study advanced techniques in psychopathology while their professor leads them through a series of bizarre experiments and perverse sexual research involving mind control. Each student must explore the caller's hidden psyche — as well as their own id. It stars James Duval (Donnie Darko, Independence Day), Nathan Bexton (Go, Nowhere) and Peter Greene (Pulp Fiction, The Mask).  A Q&A follows with the director and Bexton.

Another world premiere is Luopolis, directed by Matthew Avant. A conspiracy radio show caller claims that people from the future live on the moon and control our every action. Filmmakers Matt and Sonny chase the story deep into Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, where an ominous underground compound raises more questions than answers. A Q&A with the director follows.

The Shorts Program has three tracks:

Little Space Oddities
Extra-Terrestrial Extravaganza
Planetary Paranoia

This year's selections for The 'Thon are:

Lathe of Heaven
District 9
The Thing
Godzilla Vs. Mothra
Night of the Creeps
The Day the Sky Exploded
Night of the Comet
Colossus: The Forbin Project
The Giant Gila Monster

Of all the ways to be cooped up during a cold winter, this Festival has to be one of the best.

For more information, visit  

Boston Science Fiction Film Festival ('THON)
February 5-15, 2010

Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA

NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival

The 14th NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival is being held February 4-11, 2010 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street in New York City. Since its founding in February 1990 as a biennial event, the NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival has become the only annual Film Festival dedicated to showcasing Sephardic history, tradition and culture through film.

On Opening Night, in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Festival, its founders, Dr. Janice Ovadiah, Mr. Morrie Yohai and Israeli filmmaker Haim Shiran will be honored and the ASF Pomegranate Award will be presented.

The ceremony will be followed by the NY premiere of Coco and a post-screening reception. In this comic drama written, directed and starring Gad Elmaleh, Coco is a flamboyant self-made man who becomes a royal pain when planning the biggest show to date - the bar mitzvah of his son Samuel.

The films include:

The U.S. Premiere of Honor, starring Zeev Revah, Raymond Abecasis, Albert Iluz and many more of the leading stars of Israeli cinema. Honor portrays two Moroccan organized crime families that suffer the tragedies of their respective lives. Director Haim Bouzaglo will be on hand for post-screening discussion.

The 20th Anniversary screening of Pillar of Salt, based on the autobiographical novel by sociologist Albert Memmi. This drama captures the cultural richness and social complexity of a 13-year-old Jewish boy's life in Tunisia as he deals with the conflicting pressures from surrounding French and Arab societies.  Post-screening discussion with the director, Haim Shiran, recipient of the ASF Pomegranate Award. 

Salvador: the Ship of Shattered Hopes, directed by Nissim Mossek, has its NY Premiere. On the night of December 3, 1940, at the Black Seaport of Varna, Bulgaria, the Salvador - a rickety, old, sail-powered coal freighter - is finally towed out to sea and 352 Bulgarian Jews begin their voyage to Palestine. Ten hellish days later, the vessel is shattered to pieces on the shore, not far from Istanbul. Most of its passengers are lost at sea. While some of the survivors return to Bulgaria, most struggle on towards their original destination against all odds. Post-screening discussion with Dr. Ronnie Perelis, Alcalay Assistant Professor of Sephardic Studies, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University.

The two-part drama Revivre (Rebirth), about a journey of Jewish families from Poland, France, Morocco and Algeria making Aliya to pre-state Israel in 1946/1947. Part 1 deals with the major obstacles they endure trying to fulfill their dream and rebuild their lives in a Jewish state. Part 2 continues the journey as some of the families arrive in pre-state Israel, while others are held at a work-camp in Cyprus. In their new place, tensions grow between Arabs and Jews, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and between secular and religious.
Post-screening discussion after both Parts with director Haim Bouzaglo.

Among the documentaries:

Mashala, a NY Premiere directed by Cyrus Sundar Singh, follows Canadian singer Ellen Gould Ventura on a journey of spiritual and musical discovery through Sephardic song as she joins with a group of gifted musicians from Chile, Morocco, Italy and Venezuela.  

In Azi Ayima (Come Mother), director Sami Shalom Chetrit takes a journey with his mother in search of classmates from her elementary school, the Alliance, which she attended 60 years ago in a little village in Morocco.  Through their stories of past and present, Morocco is reconstructed and comes to life, told for the first time by Moroccan women of the first generation to immigrate to Israel. Post-screening discussion with the director.

For further information, visit

NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival
February 4-11, 2010

Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York City


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