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Kenyan Director Wanuri Kahui Wins Best Narrative Feature at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival for "From A Whisper"

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The Jury, Audience, Festival, and other special award-winners of the 2010 PAN AFRICAN FILM & ARTS FESTIVAL (PAFF) were announced tonight at the Festival’s Awards Ceremony hosted by actress CCH Pounder (Avatar) at the Culver Plaza Theatres.  The Kenyan narrative FROM A WHISPER won for Best Narrative Feature.  A three-way tie was announced for the Audience Favorite Narrative Award for films SOUL DIASPORAA STING IN A TALE, and SPEED-DATING.  The documentary on the L.A. Black Panthers 41ST & CENTRAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE L.A. BLACK PANTHERS won the Audience Favorite Documentary Award.

With the theme “Get Involved,” this year’s PAFF featured 135 films representing 36 countries, including 40 in competition, 64 feature length films, and 12 world premieres.

The films receiving Jury Awards were selected from six categories: Best Feature Documentary, Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Feature Narrative, and First Time Narrative Feature Directing.  All films in competition were also eligible for the PAFF’s Audience Awards as selected by Festival audiences.  The PAFF Board of Directors and Programmer Festival Awards were awarded to their pick for Best Documentary and Best Narrative film.  A special award from the BritishAcademyof Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles Festival Choice Award was awarded to the film FROM A WHISPER.

The , is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival that takes place annually in Los Angeles during the month of February.  For more information, please visit www.paff.org.

2010 PAFF FILMMAKER AWARD WINNERS

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE

From A Whisper (Director: Wanuri Kahiu; Screenwriter: Wanuri Kahiu) – One of the most important films made in the world in this historical period. This stunning narrative revolves on one hand around a Kenyan family that was caught up in the bombing of the American Embassy by Islamist terrorists a few years ago. On one hand it revolves around a daughter’s experience to the bombing, on the other it revolves around Abu, a Muslim intelligence officer who is investigating the bombing. Abu has a complex and deep friendship with one of the terrorists. This film gives riveting and enriching insight into the complex narrative that is our life. Winner of the best picture in Africa last year at the Africa Movie Awards (AMAA).  Los Angeles Premiere.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Stolen (Directors: Violeta Ayala & Daniel Fallshaw) – Set against the backdrop of the Sahara, in the Polisario-governed refugee camps, two unsuspecting filmmakers find themselves in the middle of a high-stakes political thriller when the Black Saharawis start talking about a forbidden subject: their freedom. Against the threat of severe consequences, the Black Saharawis reveal to the documentary filmmakers that they are enslaved. This story is all the more frightening because it is true and the issue of modern day slavery is proven to be a widespread reality.  US Premiere.

BEST NARRATIVE SHORT

Cred (Director: Sherman Payne; Screenwriter: Sherman Payne) – What do you do when your upstairs neighbor refuses to stop the 24-hour party? You get your homies and prove that you have some cred. Stars Al Thompson.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

For the Best and For the Onion! (Pour Le Meilleur et Pour l’Oignon!)(Director: Elhadj Magori Sani) – The Galmi purple, an onion from Niger, pervades West African markets with 400,000 tons a year. In Galmi, Salamatou has been waiting for her wedding for two years.  Her father Yaro, on advice from both her future in-laws and the village gossip, makes a decision: The wedding will take place during the harvest! Yaro is aware that to follow through on his commitment this time, he has to produce more and sell at a higher price…Los Angeles Premiere.

BEST FIRST TIME NARRATIVE FEATURE AWARD FOR DIRECTING

The Harimaya Bridge (Director: Aaron Woolfolk) – Daniel Holder’s father was killed fighting the Japanese during the Second World War…something he thought he had made peace with long ago, until a recent discovery revealed to him the cruel and brutal way in which his father died. So when Daniel’s beloved artist son Mickey takes a job in Japan teaching English, it creates a rift between them. Mickey dies in a traffic accident, and Daniel’s profound regret at their estrangement is matched only by his increased resentment towards Japan…a country he thinks took not only his father, but now his only child as well. Despite these feelings, Daniel goes to Japan to retrieve Mickey’s final paintings. But despite the kindness he is shown and the evidence of the happy life his son led, he cannot let go of his hatred. But some unexpected discoveries about Mickey’s life and legacy change everything for Daniel, forcing him to reassess his feelings and the life he will henceforth lead. Starring Ben Guillory, Saki Takaoka, Misa Shimizu, Danny Glover, Victor Grant.

AUDIENCE FAVORITE-NARRATIVE FEATURE

Soul Diaspora (Director: Odera Ozoka) – Saidu, a Nigerian immigrant living in Los Angeles, must overcome sleepless nights due to his family’s tormented lineage inAfrica. He is alone in the world, often hearing voices in his head. The film interweaves through color and black & white to illustrate Saidu’s erratic behavior and mental state. The souls of the characters are stripped to the core by one searing event which gives them all a fresh perspective, exploring the varying shades of grey in life.  Los AngelesPremiere.

Speed-Dating (Director: Joseph A. Elmore Jr.)This high-energy romantic comedy follows three bachelors, speeding through life and scheming on women. When it comes to the opposite sex, it’s about the “chase” and “finish line.” Dog and Beaver spend their last dime on a nightclub, while Too Cool devises the ultimate scheme to get women and money – SPEED-DATING! Stars Wesley Johnathan, Chris Elliot, and Holly Robinson Peete. World Premiere.

A Sting in A Tale (Director: Shirley Frimpong-Manso; Screenwriter: Shirley Frimpong-Manso) – Two young couples are striving to survive the harsh realities of life after university; unemployment, uncertainty, desperation and in the middle of it all, love. Kuuku is frustrated with unemployment and is faced with the possibility of losing his true love Frema because Frema’s mother sees no good future in their relationship. With these pressures, Kuuku moves heaven and earth trying to find a good job and a means to provide the future he so desperately seeks for himself, his future wife and kids. He takes the most drastic measure by resorting to rituals and soon after that, Frema passes away. After her death, Kuuku gets a well paying job and becomes a millionaire almost overnight. With the new fortunes comes a new set of problems as his best friend, Nii Aryee starts to envy Kuuku’s wealth and starts asking questions. The ghost of Frema will not rest until the mystery surrounding her death is cleared. What unfolds is a series of unpredictable and hilarious events that would take viewers on a roller-coaster of emotions from laughter to tears and even pity.  US Premiere.

AUDIENCE FAVORITE-DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

41st & Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Black Panthers (Director: Gregory Everett) – 41ST & CENTRAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE L.A. BLACK PANTHERS is the first part in a documentary series that follows 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. 41ST & CENTRAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE L.A. BLACK PANTHERS explores the Black Panther ethos, its conflict with the L.A.P.D. and the US Organization, as well as the events that shaped the complicated and often contradictory legacy of the L.A.chapter. 41ST & CENTRAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE L.A. BLACK PANTHERS contains interviews with former Black Panther Party members along with archival footage detailing the history of racism in Los Angeles, including the Watt’s uprising from the perspective of the participants who “engaged with the L.A.P.D.” 41ST & CENTRAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE L.A. BLACK PANTHERS is the most in-depth study ever of the L.A. Chapter founder Alpretice “Bunchy Carter” and features first hand accounts of the Party’s formation as told by the original surviving members. This film gives the viewer an eyewitness account of Bunchy and John Huggins murders at U.C.L.A. in 1968 and includes exclusive interviews with Black Panther Party leaders Geronimo Ji Jagga and Elaine Brown. Also featured are former Black Panther members Ericka Huggins, Roland & Ronald Freeman, Wayne Pharr, Jeffrey Everett, Long John Washington, Muhammad Mubarak, former L.A.P.D. Chief Bernard Parks, US Organization member Wesley Kabaila, U.C.L.A. Professor Scot Brown, and many others.

PAFF PROGRAMMER AWARD-NARRATIVE

Everyday Black Man (Director: Carmen Madden) – Since closing the door on a violent past, quiet and thoughtful Moses Stanton’s everyday existence is running a small neighborhood fruit and vegetable store. When a young man, Malik, comes in with a business proposition, Moses takes him on as a partner but soon realizes that Malik is selling more than just baked goods. Produced by Dwayne Wiggins, formally of Tony, Toni, Tone.  Los Angeles Premiere.

PAFF PROGRAMMER AWARD-DOCUMENTARY

Sweet Crude (Director: Sandy Cioffi) – A scathing look at the politics, the people and the spin surrounding the policies in the Nigerian Delta. Although it is one of the most oil rich regions on Earth and the source of much of oil the products used in the U.S., the people living in the area do not share in the enormous wealth generated by the precious natural resource.

PAFF BOARD OF DIRECTORS AWARD-NARRATIVE

Nothing But the Truth (Director: John Kani)Film written by John Kani one of South Africa’s top actors. This film is an in depth look at a major issue in South Africa today and indeed in all societies that have been created from a revolutionary struggle. The story revolves around a middle age man who did not participate in the liberation struggle. He opted to sit out the liberation struggle and remain at his post as a junior librarian in apartheid South Africa. On the other hand, his brother joined the liberation struggle and became a hero. The film deals with sibling rivalry cut across with the social political and psychological contradictions that have always played out in any liberation struggle. Los Angeles Premiere.

PAFF BOARD OF DIRECTORS AWARD-DOCUMENTARY

Motherland (Director: Owen ‘Alik Shahadah) – From the director of the internationally acclaimed “500 Years Later” comes this gem of a film. Tracing the past and with an eye to the future, the film examines the current African landscape. Featuring an all-star cast of African Presidents and thinkers including Dr. Maulana Karenga, the father of Kwanzaa, and Dr. Molefi Asante.  World Premiere.

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Celebrities

Zimbabwe Artists Unite To Raise Funds For Cyclone Idai Victims

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Cyclone Idah

Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe

Last week Thursday, cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe destroying human and properties on its path. It is said to be one of the worst disaster to hit the south-eastern African region. According to statistics, over 2.6 million people are affected across the three countries. Subsequently, the cyclone led to devastating flooding. The cyclone hit the port city of Beira in Sofala province at over 177 km/h (106 mph). Consequently, the port city of Beira which was once home to 500,000 people is now an ‘island’.

The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday announced three days of national mourning. The official death toll as of Monday across Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are 56, 98, and 200 respectively. However, many are still missing. President believes over 1,000 people may have been killed in the disaster. Consequently, the real death toll may remain unknown for many months as the disaster unfolds.

The urgent need for humanitarian services

There is an urgent need to rescue people still trapped within the devastated cities hit by cyclone Idai. Also, the survivors will be relying on humanitarian aid for survival. In the ‘new island’ people are clinging to trees and house roofs for survival. Speaking about the disaster, Manuel Rodrigues, Manica province governor, said,

“We saw people besieged and asking for help… on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water.”

Several aid agencies in Mozambique are complementing government efforts in the distribution of food. Over 3,800 families are taking refuge in Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management.

Zimbabwe musicians rise for cyclone Idai victims

Veteran Zimbabwe musicians have taken to their social media pages to solicit for donations to assist the victims. They also used the medium to share their condolence with the victims. The hip hop icon, Ex Q, Jah Prayzah said,

Jah Prayzah soliciting for donations for victims of cyclone Idai

“Let’s join hands and help those who have been affected by the cyclone Idai. No donation is too small to make a change. Anything you think can assist those in need right now in Chimanimani please bring it over… to 31 Hebert Chitepo in Belvedere.”

Michael Mahendere, a renowned gospel musician wrote,

“Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the cyclone Idai. The scenes are saddening but we know that there is Hope in the God we pray to. The relief that comes from Him is permanent and we stand with them during this devastating season.”

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Books

3 Nigerian Authors Make The 16 Author Longlist For The Most Prestigious Literary Prize In The UK For Women

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L-R: Diana Evans, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the most prestigious literary prize in the United Kingdom. Formerly known as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the prize goes to female authors of any nationality for full-length English novel published in the United Kingdom the preceding year. There are 163 entries this year but the judges painstakingly cut it down to 16. However, three Nigerian authors (Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi, and Diana Evans) made it to the longlist.

The Women’s Prize for Fiction was founded in 1996. The inspiration for the prize was prompted by the 1991 Booker Prize which sidelined female authors in the six shortlisted books. However, that year it was on record that sixty percent of books were by female authors. That event made journalists, librarians, booksellers, agents, and publishers to take action.

About the prize and judging panel

The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will go home with £30,000 and a bronze sculpture, ‘Bessie’. Consequently, this year’s award ceremony will take place on June 5 in Central London. This year’s judging panel consists of Sarah Wood (a digital entrepreneur), Leyla Hussein (campaigner and psychotherapist), Dolly Alderton (author, broadcaster, and columnist), and Arifa Akbar (journalist and critic). The chairperson of this year’s judging panel is Professor Kate Williams. In a statement after the release of the longlist, Williams said,

“I am thrilled to share this longlist – 16 incredible books by a diverse group of women, from the UK and countries across the world, all brilliant stories that sweep you into another world. Each of them has been a privilege to read, and they have taken us into places a million miles from each other, exploring the lives of women and men in so many different but utterly compelling ways.”

Brief bio of the Nigerian authors and summary of their stories

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a Kingston University graduate of Creative Writing and Law. In 2016 her story was part of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. “My Sister, the Serial Killer” explores the tale of Korede, whose younger sister Ayoola kills her boyfriends in the name of self-defense. Korede loves her sister and finds it difficult reporting to the police. All that changes when Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede is in love with the doctor and doesn’t want him to be one of Ayoola’s victims. However, saving one will mean sacrificing the other.

Diana Evans

Diana Evans is a Nigerian-British novelist living in London. She has three novels to her name. “Ordinary People” follows the tale of two couples at the brink of revolution or surrender. Everything changes when Melissa gives birth to a new baby. Michael still loves her but is finding it hard to stay faithful. In the suburbs, Stephanie and Damian are happy with their three children until the death of Damian’s father.

Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer. “Freshwater,” tells the story of Ada, a child prayed into existence. Her parents struggle to contain the contradictory and volatile spirits within her. While in college an assault leads to crystallization of her selves. Subsequently, Ada’s life takes a dangerous and dark dimension.

The longlist

Books and their authors that made it to the longlist this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction include;

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • The Pisces by Melissa Broder
  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
  • Ordinary People by Diana Evans
  • Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
  • Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
  • Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
  • Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

Freshwater is first non-binary inclusion

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi earlier in 2018 won the Quartz Africa’s as the best African book. The inclusion of Emezi’s ‘Freshwater’ is the first time a non-binary trans author will make it to the long list of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The same day of the longlist announcement, the competition judges published an editorial believed to put an end to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of the novel on the list. Reacting to the novel, one of the judges, Arifa Akbar said,

Emezi’s novel takes the conversation about female-only spaces and non-binary identities out of an often inward-looking, white, Western enclave, to give it new meaning.”

Past African winners

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the only African to have won the coveted Women’s Prize for Fiction (then Orange Prize for Fiction). The multiple-award-winning writer took home the prize in 2007 for her novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. If Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi or Diana Evans should win, it will be the second time the prize will come to Africa. The announcement for the shortlist will be on April 29.

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Sports

Yomif Kejelcha Has Set A New 1-Mile Indoor World Record

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Yomi Kajelcha set new indoor mile record

Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha on Sunday 3rd March set a new 1-mile indoor world record. The previous record was set in 1997 by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj. Yomif Kejelcha finished at 3:47.01 to break the previous record of 3:48.45. Three weeks earlier, Kajelcha came close to breaking the record but missed by hundredth of a second with a time of 3:48.46.

The 21-year old runner trumped the former record by 1.44 seconds in Boston. Yomif Kejelcha who is a two-time champion of 3000m came to Boston with the intention of breaking the 1500m and 1-mile world record. Although he missed the former, his split time of 3:31.25 is the third-best all-time indoor behind Tefera and El Guerrouj.

Yomif Kejelcha’ lap performance at the race

The race began with Sowinski, the indoor bronze medalist leading. However, Kajelcha got his big break from the pack after the first 409 meters. The indoor 1-mile record is one of the longest in tracks and field. Yomif Kejelcha cruised through the 809m in 1:52, leaving no doubt about his intention. He hit the bell at 3:18.54 and ran a time of 28.47 in the last lap to break the 22-year old record. Second-placed Johnny Gregorek also put himself second on all-time America indoor list with 3:49.98.

https://t.co/C3mLNgzQ7n

After crossing the finish line, Yomif Kejelcha did not hide his joy. The moment the result was displayed on the scoreboard he did a series of celebratory jumps amid the cheering crowd. This was a clear contrast to his mood after the Millrose Games miss on February 9. Yomif Kejelcha current record shows great improvement from his 2018 season.

ALSO READEthiopia Makes History With Their New President

Other Africans that hold world records

Africans fare well in the track and fields and Yomif Kejelcha is another addition to the record book. Both in the male and female categories, a large number of Africans hold the world record. In the indoor men’s category, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele holds both the 2000 meters, Two miles, and 5000 meters world record set in 2007, 2008 and 2004 respectively. This also makes him the highest African world record holder in the indoor long distance category.

In the female category, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba has no rival in the long distance race. Dibaba holds the world record for the 1500 meters, 1-mile, 2000 meters, 3,000 meters, Two miles, and 5,000 meters. However, her most recent record was in 2,000 meters in 2017.

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