RIP Nelson Mandela

It’s very hard to describe what is going on in the mind of many  black folks today. All I can say is that the first time I had a passport, it had a mention “valid for all countries except the republic of South Africa”. I was 7 years old and I had to understand that because I was black, I could not go to South Africa. I remember the celebration the day Mandela was released from prison. And now part of me is relieved because I felt we were keeping him alive for ourselves but at the same time I feel lost and confused because there is a vacuum. Before there was MLK, Nkrumah, Sankara… Sometimes many at the time for the same fight: social justice and equality, then  slowly we got down to only Mandela. I hope there will be a vigil somewhere. we need to sit and think as black folks where we go from here.

Asimbonanga (We have not seen him)
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina (We have not seen Mandela)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’ehleli khona (In the place where he is kept)

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the Island into the Bay
We are all islands till comes the day
We cross the burning water

Chorus….

A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me

Chorus….

Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge
Neil Aggett
Asimbonanga
Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina (we have not seen our brother)
Laph’ekhona (In the place where he is)
Laph’wafela khona (In the place where he died)
Hey wena (Hey you!)
Hey wena nawe (Hey you and you as well)
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona (When will we arrive at our destination.

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Event! Petit-Pays In Los Angeles!

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The Pan African Film Festival Announces Call for Submissions

LOS ANGELES – The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is ready to take movie goers on a cinematic journey with international film screenings from around the globe with the announcement of its call for submissions. The 22nd annual PAFF will be held on February 6-17, 2014 in Los Angeles. The film festival is the nation’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Over the years, it has showcased films from all parts of the world, representing such countries as Angola, Austria, England, Bermuda, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, and of course, the United States. With the pulse on the international film market, PAFF has opened the minds of its audiences, and transported them to lands far away and back home again. “Over the years, the filmmakers from around the world have become more sophisticated in telling their stories,” says Asantewa Olatunji, the director of programming for PAFF.

This week, PAFF kicks off a three-day film series at the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF). The PAFF film series will take place July 18-20, 2013 at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta. From its vaults, PAFF will present 18 films as a part of NBAF’s 25th anniversary.

This year, PAFF has been feted with several awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Awards from the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) and the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) for its contribution to cinematic arts. In February, the festival screened a total of 154 films, representing 34 countries — that is, 23 documentaries, 13 short documentaries, 67 narrative features, and 51 narrative shorts.

Currently, PAFF is accepting submissions of independent features, shorts, narratives and documentary films made by or about people of African descent. Applications are available via the PAFF website at www.paff.org, by emailing ao@paff.org or calling (310) 337-4737.

ELIGIBILITY:
The PAFF is currently accepting applications for films and videos made by and/or about people of African descent. (Please note: the filmmaker(s) need not be of African or African American descent.) Films should preferably depict positive and realistic images and can be of any genre — drama, comedy, horror, adventure, animation, romance, science fiction, experimental, etc. PAFF accepts features and shorts both narrative and documentary. The film festival will accept submissions of works in progress; however, the final version of the film must be completed no later than January 2, 2014.

COMPETITION:

The PAFF competition categories are: Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary, Best Director — First Feature, plus, Audience Favorite Awards for Narrative Feature and Favorite Documentary. Films in competition must be copyrighted no earlier than 2013. With the exception of Audience Favorite Awards, all films are judged by industry professionals, selected by PAFF. In addition to competition awards, other programming and festival special prizes will be awarded.

SUBMISSION:

For information about the festival, submission procedures, fees and registration, visit www.paff.org or call 310. 337-4737. Submissions will be accepted from now through October 19, 2013. Late submissions will be accepted until November 16, 2013. Official selection announcements will be made beginning December 16, 2013.

ABOUT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL

Gearing up for its 22nd anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.

PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as Willona in the tv series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in African Affairs. PAFF is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art and creative expression.

The goal of PAFF is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience. 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.

For more information, please visit www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.

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Back! Arafat Tour Report…

Hi everyone, I’ve been offline for three weeks down with a nasty flu that turned into something else. Thanks to god, I’m now back. I had so many things to discuss.I won’t announce, I’ll just touch them as we go and see where we land. 

Last I blogged, I was announcing the Arafat Dj Tour. I had my spies to the first leg of the concerts tour in DC and I managed to attend the LA unintended finale. First of all for my US readers, let me tell you who we are talking about. Arafat Dj is one the most sought out Djs out of Ivory Coast. He’s been performing since the late 90’s and has earned a lot of recognition through his electrical performances and international hits. However, his career has also been marred by scandals, beefs and all sorts of clashes with a wide range of individual including colleagues and fans. All of which made him highly controversial and depending whom you are asking, redundant.

After a domestic violence video surfaced on the web last year, some were thinking he was done for, but that was not counting on a certain Ernest Adjovi who managed to give him a Kora Award for Best African Artist of the Year 2012 thereby jump starting his career. Whether you like Arafat or not, you can’t deny that he is a great dancer and has millions of YouTube views to attest to that: But that where it is. Coupe decale is mostly a dance: It has surely moved from its early 2000’s melodic roots topped with simples sway and wave moves to very intricate acrobatic stunts on electronic beats; Therefore, people don’t attend those shows anymore for the music or the dubious lyrical abilities of the performers (I dare not to call them singers) who no longer sing but beat-box while interrupting their sounds to join their dancers in choreographed steps. So this is my experience of the LA show that I will spice with some of the gossip from DC.

Location is always for good marks…

As the flyer indicated, the cover was $40. Some people found it overpriced, I say given the venue that was an upgrade by a long shot to the holes in the wall where we usually find ourselves for African event in SoCAL, It was fair. However, you had to add $10 for valet which was very efficient by the way.

Now to the gate: it is never a good sign when you find an organizer penny pinching at the door. It is tacky and a sign of struggle: Even more so if it is creating a line… So yes, my sidekick of the day and I had to witness a rather unnecessary customer service issue that could have easily handled in two minutes by any common sense invested steward. Nice and friendly security staff every where, the place really looked great. There was the Aida Cosmetics stand right next to the red carpet with its Hollywood-like lit mirror and make-up artists in full action ready to offer instant makeovers to all the ladies and gents. Nice one! It really added some posh to have an animation on site.

However once inside…

After walking in, we saw a rather poor use of a magnificent space. 2/3 of the room was dedicated to a VIP Area holding only 5 tables if I’m not mistaken, leaving the rest of the patrons packed between the back area and the bar that were equally poorly lit. What a disappointment! There was no space for these people to dance or have any type of fun. The VIP were not having fun either since they were set up as if they were on display with a rope and security between them and the rest of the crowd. Unnecessarily elitist and If I dare to say idiotic management of a great space that was honestly too big for the amount of people that showed up.

To the main course!

We endured a plethora of opening acts. The DJ was pretty decent but after waiting til 3.30 AM for Arafat and J. Martins to show up, especially that they were announced several times, we were beginning to feel very cranky.  This is the part were the smart-ass who designed the seating arrangement could have scored some points: Had people been dancing they maybe wouldn’t have noticed how long it took for your main act to show up and how short the performance was. Arafat performance lasted no more than 30 minutes with 10 minutes of actual performance and 20 minutes of Attalakou. To sum it up, these people had us believing that Arafat is more expensive than Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna you name them. For the same amount spent you have two hours of show minimum with those world renown performers. How do we pay $40 USD for 30 minutes of Arafat Dj !??  I am yet to answer the question. J. Martins that was pompously added to the flyer as a performer barely sang a verse of his hit Jukpa… He looked as out of place as he did at the infamous P-Square concert 4 years ago. (Such a talented and underrated talent!! Something needs to be done about his stage appeal as of 5 years ago). Anyway  still to the value we pay for: I saw people who drove from neighbouring cities and out of state to LA to catch this show, is it fair to give them 30 minutes of show? Where is the respect due to the public?

A Train Wreck…

Until 8Pm that evening I had yet to decide whether I was going to attend or not.I had received such bad reviews from DC attendees, from Arafat being disrespectful to the crowd to the DJ quitting the tour and there again, a tardy start to a very short and low quality performance… However, when I checked out the video of the show, I was not able to see all that drama, and  they had announced J. Martins!!! Nonetheless, they did have a longer show  there than the crowd in LA even still not up to an hour…  US bias? We are so used to go to the well oiled American shows machine that coping with some of our African organizers shortcomings is always a bit hard to digest. Things happen; However, they do not have to happen in public and the public should not pay the price of it.

Demanding that the manager of a performing artist at your event pays a cover is completely unheard of. It is standard for sponsors and contributors to an event to be given free access even if it is to a limited number of seats so that they can see where their contributions were invested and be enticed to continue investing in future ventures. It is ridiculous to damage a business partnership for $40. If your event is not profitable, $200 will not make a difference! If you can’t win on the money, at least win on the image for the future.

What went wrong?

I had a originally plan to wait for the tour to be over, get all the gossip I could from every major city and make a fair and balanced report … But then a few days later, I hear Arafat has skipped town and bailed out of his remaining dates in NYC, TX, and ATL…

And while I was waiting for my health to return so that I can dig deeper, he put out this rather stunning videos talking about he hurt his leg and had to undergo surgery that is why he quit his US tour; but in the same video, he is apologizing to some fans in France about missing their date as well. My curiosity here is, why do you have a date in France scheduled during the time you were supposed to close up in the USA? That means that date was scheduled after you had packed or decided to leave the US in which case, you were not injured when you left the US.  Why make an apology to the french fans and not to the us ones?

Arafat quitting his us tour has added to a track record of shadiness on his part that will make it very hard for any promoter to sell him to the public. The grapevines reports of unpaid fees and I say that if it is true, Arafat as an Artist should be more careful of what he signs up for. Your fans that were disappointed do not know and are really not interested by the motives behind the scenes. They showed up and you did not. It is not the first time it has happened, so what is it with you that does not happen with other artists? I have never heard of Fally Ipupa for instance not showing up somewhere when billed. Even during the combatants fever when they were beating up Congolese performers and their fans in front of venues, he performed to an almost empty room to make the point that those few fans deserved the best show… So Arafat, now that you are a Koraman, please, do polish and cherish your image because the higher the rise, the hardest the fall.

The good thing is, a hit came out of all this mess, J. Martins Featuring Arafat DJ  Touching Body.

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Swell Attitude Does Good!

The guys from swell Attitude went down to a local school in Northern California to teach the youngsters how to dress for success. If  your thinking, big deal…Think again.

Khan and Jerry from Swell Attitude at East Oakland Youth Development Center

With the fatherless homes, the sagging pants ruling , wife-beaters and snap-backs raging, where in the world do you expect the new generation to learn how to dress?

Somebody had to think about that. Let’s tag that the little things we take for granted. Kudos guys.

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Sunday Stuff!

Hello peeps,

This Sunday I have so many things to talk about. It was election day in Cameroon, but Cameroon matters are so passionate for me that they call for entire rants  essays of their own… We had our first Senatorial elections! Something, I’m telling y’all: A real circus.  While we were doing that, the Carters went for a stroll in Cuba, I’m getting so annoyed with those two, I pinched myself to wait for the fever to calm down before I could coherently speak about  the faux-pas but somebody at the Roots.com beat me to it. You have to read it: hit the nail on every point! On the other side of the globe Madonna’s staffers and Joyce Banda’s were trading insults via the media over who is entitled to protocol and who should build schools in   Malawi.

Still in this week, Margaret Thatcher passed away: and while all the great leaders of our world were singing praises in eulogies, the villains of her times were celebrating her demise from London to Johannesburg. As you see, a lot happened, but we are thankful our dear Fally Ipupa finally delivered his much anticipated album Power: Full Review is coming soon.. Til then enjoy this tune out of Ivory Coast… If you understand french, you know you’ve been through it. The punch lines are just epic!

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Arafat Dj USA Tour!

If you are a fan of Ivorian Music, Afro pop, Coupe Decale, one of its best ambassador is headed to the us for an epic tour. Arafat Dj will be in the USA from April 15th to May 15th 2013. Dates and cities listed include:

  • Silver Spring, MD- April 19th 12210 PLUM ORCHARD DR, SILVER SPRING, MD 20904 
  • New York City, NY- April 20th at the James Varrick Community Center
  • Houston, TX- April 27th at Emmanuel Hall
  • Seattle, WA- May 3rd CONTACT: tamtamseattle.com
  • Los Angeles, CA- May 4th at stage 22, Bellevarado Studios
  • Atlanta, GA – May 10th at Josephine Lounge
  • Dallas,TX- May 11th at Nai Bar & Grill

To Book a date in your city, call:
(310) 808 7650
Or email arafatusatour@yahoo.com

If you just want to know more about the tour, visit the facebook page or the website.

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And Then there was the PAFF 2013!

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.

The People

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.

In perspective

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!

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Event! Party Tonight with Van Vicker, Yvonne Nelson, John Dumelo, Jimmy jean Louis etc…

DMV Area folks, there is a huge bash going on tonight  with the stars of the upcoming movie One Night In Vegas. It is a Koby Maxwell production and it features an international cast including Van Vicker, Yvonne Nelson, Sahndra Fon Dufe, and jimmy Jean Louis. It will be both a celebration of Ghana independance and a promotional event for the movie. You’ll be able to party with them and  practice your Azonto. For more info about the movie you can visit the Facebook Page here. (I don’t know why and how but I was made an administrator of that page and I don’t know them random and dangerous if you ask me, lol)

Here are the party info:

GHANA 56TH INDEPENDENCE BASH WITH GOLLYWOOD STAR’S MARCH 9TH

Cobs Records/Cobs Movies Production

Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM – Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 3:30 AM (PST)

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In Memoriam

Every year when I take off to cover the PAFF, I tend to saturate you with movie news… I can’t help it that it is that time of the year! But I would like to take a minute to acknowledge the passing of the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and that of a Nollywood Icon Justus Esiri.

I can write a long obituary about Hugo Chavez but it will still be incomplete; not that there is any that can truly capture the depth and span of a man’s life, but really for anybody to has lived this time and not know who this man is, they would have to have been living under a rock. Just go on Youtube and listen to him. Do not google. Make your opinion from the horse’s mouth. RIP Mr Chavez.

Justus Esiri was one of the most finest thespian Nigeria had to offer: very versatile, so charismatic. One of the Nollywood papas as we call them. He gained his fame from starring in a local soap operas but I discovered him like most African movies fans in features films where he often played a politician, an Igwe or a father. After the barely recovering from the passing of Enebeli Elebuwa, I was very shocked at Mr Esiri’s  death announcement. He will be dearly missed.

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