It took a while for me to do my PAFF recap but here we are. I kinda had a busy time lately but don’t worry I’ll try to give you my best critique of the 2013 edition. The Los Angeles Pan African is something I really look forward to: I am very passionate about our culture and its finding due recognition in the world stage; therefore, it really bugs me that we just don’t seem to get it right.
Why can’t we get out to support our own stuff? I will start with the African Community and then the black community as a whole. I personally go to great lengths to have access to african movies at home and by that I don’t mean Nollywood stuff only. Sometimes I chase movies for years, so the film festival is really the only or one of the few opportunities for me to check out the new talents, the innovation but also to really to support the expansion of a better understanding of the complexity that makes up the black experience around the world. How can I say this? The best way to stop being in the margin of the world happening is to stop embracing the “main stream” and to bring your contribution louder into it.
The crowd at opening night.. Vipaka
I find it rather saddening that almost consistently every year, I run into the same people: a very mature crowd of African Americans who seem to have made it an habit over the years. The few Africans that I see there are for the larger portion involved in the production of the pieces. I don’t know if there is lack of outreach from the PAFF people into the community or just that we are simply not interested in our own culture. It is a shame. How are we suppose to keep getting upset when our culture is underrated while downplaying it ourselves? It ought to be known that beyond the classics from the eighties and the cheap comedy series of the late 90′s there is a thriving cinema in West Africa that needs to be seen and promoted. It ought to be known that Kenya makes awesome pieces and that South African movie makers mean business. It ought to be known that the specificity of the Caribbean social context has given way to a very interesting identity based cinema. What is our problem?
I don’t mean for this to sound like I’m ranting but really? how are we going to entice other to look at what we are capable of and respect us for who we are and not what we are made to aspire to be when we don’t even give our culture the time of the day. I wish we would have more youngsters coming out, more schools taking advantage of the workshops, just more of us out there patronizing such festivals. I’m not only talking about the people that don’t go, but also about the people that go and don’t spread the word.
The PAFF People.
Blair Underwood at opening night.
After a few years of attendance, I’ve just developed a low tolerance to what I perceive as a lack of imagination from the PAFF folks. I understand it is not easy to put together such a big show but really, after 20 years there are some things that should have been ironed out. For instance; This year, we did not get the movie list until close to
and probably less than 10 days from the event. That is ridiculously late! I knew some of the movie that were going to be on because I do have a few movie makers in my social media network but for the regular folks, it is a total disservice. I personally know somebody who attends this festival every year and takes time off to make sure she get the most of it. Putting out the List so late really made it impossible for her to optimize her experience. Think about it this way: LA is very spread, and some people who do have interest in this festival live in small towns in the suburbs of LA county or in neighboring cities that do not have this type of event; These people would be able to plan ahead of time an extended weekend where they could come down here and indulge. Next to that, after the movie list was announced, the passes prices were not on the website til the days preceding the opening night, adding up to what I was pointing out earlier…
As a media person and a lover of my culture, it is important that I know what is coming to the PAFF so that I can research it before attending; I can organize my coverage of the festival, I can share the highlights with my audience before it even starts. I just don’t understand how hard it is to upload that list onto the website when I know the decision is made as early as the beginning of January. And I’m not just speaking for myself here, I’m speaking for many people that I’ve met there… These misses are not conducive to a growing attendance.
I’ve been warned that saying those things will get me banned from events
and it has , but I don’t mind paying for a pass. I go there for the love of my culture and I feel it is my duty to say it how I feel it so that whoever is in charge can fix these things.
Where it stinks!
Since last year I vegetated in the lobby of the RAVE theater for 6 hours waiting for somebody to figure out what happened to my media pass, I figured that it was better for me to wait for day 2, when there would be less mayhem, to go to the site and pick up the precious sesame as indicated in the instructions. (See how these things can deter people from coming? Yes I purposely missed VIPAKA). Yet again, the person in charge of handling passes on-site had better fish to fry and thankfully this year around there was a very nice lady at the booth who graciously let me check out a couple of films despite my missing pass. I should have asked for her name, because I found out in the later days that her gracefulness was not the most shared quality at that specific table. She indicated to me that I had to travel to the night of tribute to get my pass from the PR manager or come back the next day. I eventually landed at the night of tribute inappropriately dressed to pick up what I needed and nonetheless, felt it went down better than last year overall, even thou it could have been better.
On the next episode, this is what I have to say: People at gate-keeping position, let them be volunteers or not should always be the most courteous, common sense driven, and service-minded people. I was a witness and victim of some unnecessary power trip from one very ill-behaved lady that looked like the plump version of the nicer one I previously mentioned . They were both fair in complexion with gorgeous dreadlocks that complimented their mature beauty, one brownish and the other reddish…
I don’t even know if it is worth it for me to go in details as to what happen at that table each time that particular lady assisted of relieved the first one, but what I can say is, it is okay to say No, but not okay to berate grown ups. I was lectured by this woman about media people taking seats that otherwise would have been occupied by paying customer for trying to get tickets to go into two movies that were not even full or talking about media people disturbing paying customers by going in and out of theaters, Which I don’t recall myself doing. I could have went back and forth with her about my input as a blogger in the amount of paying customers, or the notion of individual responsibility vs collective, or just the simple ” what does that have to do with me and who are you to talk to me like that?”… But then I remembered that I’m a very well behaved dame who does not insults her elders, so I gave her a nice stare, looked straight into her eyes , sighted so that she gets my annoyance and reiterated my demand for my tickets which surely followed. It only took 24hours for her to be going at it with a producer in the lobby regarding a pass to the closing night Gala. I have seen last year a movie maker being denied access to his own movie showing just because there was a strict 3 ticket rule and he let his actor go in instead of himself. So said director was stuck in the lobby on some technicality hoping that someone would let him in for the Q&A. Common sense people is always better when applying rules.
Ayo Fawole from the mockumentary Melvin: Chronicles of a player
God helping, I will be there next year again to support the PAFF. Despite the few things that I pointed out added to the lack of follow up after the festival closes, it is a very refreshing experience. I met a lot of great talents and interesting people. I really hope that there is a better use of the website in a way to allow viewers to follow up with some of the projects featured there or the awarded directors work. It would be a great way of maintaining a relationship with the public and build up to upcoming events. Enough with the behind the scenes… I’ll make my movie round up in a next post as well as the content critique: Stay tuned!