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Demme, Shakur pix in Pan African Fest

Organizers of the Pan African Film Festival announced that the fifth installment of the non-competitive annual fest will take place Jan. 29 through Feb. 9 at the Magic Johnson Theaters in Baldwin Hills.

During the 12-day cultural and film fest, more than 50 films that focus on the African cultural diaspora will be presented – including films from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the South Pacific and the U.S.

“The Pan African Film Festival has captured the hearts of Angelenos who have enjoyed the opportunity to see new black films rarely seen in the U.S.,” the festival’s founder and director, Ayuko Babu, said, “as well as participate in our free forums, jazz concerts, discussion groups and educational outreach programs.”

Shakur’s last bow

Among the films that will be presented are “Gridlock’d,” written and directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall and starring Tim Roth and the late Tupac Shakur; “Guimba,” a film from Mali helmed by Cheick Oumar Sissoko; “Flame,” by Zimbabwean filmmaker Ingrid Sinclair; and the L.A. premiere of “Follow Me Home,” directed by Peter Bratt and starring Alfre Woodard.

Also included are two short films by Gloria Rolando, one of the few black female filmmakers in Cuba; “The Gangster” (Ivory Coast), directed by and starring Sijiri Bakaba; “Target,” helmed by Sandip Ray, the son of Satyajit Ray; two films from Curacao helmer Felix DeRooy, “Ava and Gabriel” and “Aljacita Di Desolata”; “Terrible Enfant,” a clay-animation short from Malian helmer Kadiatore Konate; Maybelle Peters’ animated short “Mama Lou” (U.K./Guyana); and from the tiny country of Guinee Bissal comes “Po di Sangui,” directed by Flora Gomez.

In addition, several documentaries will be featured, including Jonathan Demme’s “Mandela,” about South African president Nelson Mandela” (Island Pictures), and Euzhan Palcy’s tribute to the Martinique leader and father of the Black Consciousness movement, “Aime Cesaire.”

Student participation

Los Angeles-area students can participate in a special program comprised of youth-oriented films and discussions featuring “Nightjohn” (Disney Channel Films), directed by Charles Burnett (“The Glass Shield,” “To Sleep With Anger”). Burnett will lead a discussion following the film, which tells the story of a young slave girl who risks her life by learning to read.

PAFF honorary committee members are Woodard, C.C.H. Pounder, Roth (“Gridlock’d”), JaNet DuBois (“The Wayans Brothers”), Curtis-Hall (“Chicago Hope”), Palcy (“A Dry White Season”), artist/author Synthia Saint James, L.A. Police chief Willie Williams, L.A. city councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, and city of L.A. Cultural Affairs Dept. general manager Adolfo Nodal. Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, will serve as honorary co-chairs.

Sponsors of the event are the L.A. Cultural Affairs Dept., Pacific Bell, the Discovery Channel, Buena Vista Film Distribution, AT&T, Coors Brewing Co., the County of Los Angeles, Mobil Oil, Honda, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Eastman Kodak.

For more information on the PAFF, call (213) 298-6050. Screening schedules and the full lineup of films will be available in mid-January at the Magic Johnson Theaters, Congo Square in Santa Monica, and the Midnight Special, Eso Won, Borders and Sisterhood bookstores.

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