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Arts & Culture

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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TV and Movies

Netflix Will Release It’s First African Original Series in 2019 Starring This African Actress

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South African Actress Pearl Thusi

Netflix has ordered its first African original series, “Queen Sono,” a drama about a secret agent who fights crime while dealing with crises in her personal life. The series will launch globally in 2019.

“Queen Sono” stars veteran South African actress Pearl Thusi, who tweeted in an emotional video that she “cannot wait for…every woman on this continent, and actually on this planet, to meet Queen Sono.” Of the deal with Netflix, she added: “It’s going to change the game for every artist on this continent.”

ALSO READ: 5 Must Watch African Centered Movies Streaming on Netflix (January 2019)

The announcement came last month, barely a week after Erik Barmack, Netflix’s vice president of international originals, told a gathering in London that the company would begin commissioning original series in Africa starting in 2019.

Speaking about “Queen Sono” with South Africa’s Independent Online, Barmack said: “Taking talent like this and telling stories to the rest of the world puts Pearl in the same category as other strong female characters like Claire Underwood in ‘House of Cards’ and Jessica Jones.”

He added: “Over time, our roots will get deeper in Africa and South Africa, and we’re moving pretty quickly to that now, and plan to invest more in local content.”

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TV and Movies

5 Must Watch African Centered Movies Streaming on Netflix (January 2019)

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We are tickled with excitement as more and more African stories make their way into streaming giant platforms like Netflix. As African stories are told by Africans, the world can take a sneak peak into our diversity.

ALSO READ:10 African Movies Streaming On Netflix (September 2016)

So with that said, let’s get right into it. Here is my short list of movies that you should check out this month. My picks are from 2017/2018 releases only, however, there are many more exciting movies from prior years that have been added to Netflix’s growing African Movie genre. I want to know what you think and if there are other notable mentions that I missed, please let me know. 

#1 – Lionheart: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

This is Nollywood’s first ever Netflix original … AND it is really a BIG deal for the industry; Certainly one to watch. It is a refreshing story and worth making an evening of it.

  • Directed By: Genevieve Nnaji
  • Starring: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie

Lionheart Synopsis

In order to save her father’s ailing bus company, competent but perennially overlooked Adaeze must find a way to work alongside feckless uncle Godswill, in the sharp and comically observed directorial debut from Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji. 

Determined to fight her way to the top, but not wanting to go against her father’s wishes, Adaeze feels like the proverbial bus has left the station without her. She must quickly shift gears, however, when she and Godswill discover that Lionheart is running on fumes, financially. Together, the unlikely duo must come together to save the company and their family name. Sharply and comically observed, Nnaji’s film deals with the everyday sexism that saturates workplaces everywhere, and captures the delicate balance between honoring one’s family while finding the courage to strike out on one’s own.

Lionheart Trailer

#2 – Sarah’s Notebook: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

This is one of those impactful social dramas that will awaken the western conscience. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles and takes you on a journey into the darkest sides of human nature.

  • Directed By: Norberto Lopez Amado
  • Starring: Belén Rueda, Marian Álvarez, Iván Mendes

Sarah’s Notebook Synopsis

Laura has been looking for years for her sister Sarah, who disappeared in the middle of the Congo jungle. Neither the NGO for which she worked nor the Embassy had news of her whereabouts… until a photo of a mining town in Eastern Congo appears with the blurred image of Sara. Without hesitation, Laura travels to Kinshasa ready to enter the territory of the warlords, leaving behind the differences that separated her from her sister.

She goes through an unsuspecting journey that reveals and reveals disturbing, violent and hidden backrooms of some great Western powers operating in Africa.

#3 – Catching Feelings: Released 2017 (Watch It Here)

This South African movie captures a South African couple’s relationship and life. It is a captivating ‘dramedy’ as someone put it certainly makes our list. What I like about this movie is that it takes you into what contemporary South African life could look like.

  • Directed By: Kagiso Lediga
  • Starring: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland

Catching Feelings Synopsis

Catching Feelings is a dark romantic comedy which follows an urbane young academic and his beautiful wife, as their lives get turned upside down when a celebrated and hedonistic older writer moves into their Johannesburg home with them.

#4 – He Even Has Your Eyes: Released 2017 (Watch It Here)

This subtitled French movie uses humor to explore the racial, cultural and social challenges that come with interracial adoption. Thing is people have gotten ‘almost’ comfortable with the idea that white parents can adopt black children even though I suspect there are still raised eyebrows and challenges as these parents go about their business of raising their child. What is rarer to find are black African parents adopting white children and that is the backdrop of this movie which explores this topic with comedy while tackling very legitimate challenges and issues along the way.

  • Director: Lucien Jean-Baptiste
  • Stars: Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Aïssa Maïga, Zabou Breitman

He Even Has Your Eyes Synopsis

In their mid-thirties, Paul and Sali, a Parisian couple of Caribbean and West African origin, are happily married and the proud new owners of a flower shop. The only cloud on their horizon is the long wait to adopt a child. Just when the couple has given up hope, the adoption agency calls with good news. The couple’s new baby boy is six months old, his name is Benjamin, he’s beautiful, he has lovely blue eyes…and he’s white. Director and star Lucien Jean-Baptiste explores what race and ethnicity mean when it comes to being a family; where love is concerned, do they mean anything at all?

#5 – Black Panther: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

I want to believe that every one of our readers has watched this movie, but I suspect there are still a few that just didn’t care about all the fuss this movie made when it was released last year. Well I have it here to nudge you a little to check it out. It is now on Netflix so you don’t have to deal with any crowds and you can just immerse yourself in the story in the privacy of your home.

  • Director: Ryan Coogler
  • Staring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira

Black Panther Synopsis

After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.

ALSO READ: The Looks That Afronized The Black Panther Hollywood Movie Premiere

What Are Your Favorites This Month?

Just so you know, there are some really good movies out there but for this short list, I didn’t go further than 2017 even though I was itching to. So please share some of your favorite movies.

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Sports

Egypt Is Confirmed As Host for The 2019 African Cup Of Nations After Cameroon Loses Its Spot

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Egypt beat South Africa, the only other nation to bid, by 16 votes to one with one abstention at a CAF executive committee vote in Senegal to become the 2019 hosts of the tournament in Cameroon’s place.

Cameroon team players hold up the winner’s trophy as they celebrate beating Egypt 2-1 to win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final football match between Egypt and Cameroon at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville on February 5, 2017. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

ALSO READ: Egypt Lands Top Spot For Where To Invest In Africa

Since stripping Cameroon of this year’s event, Caf has offered the country the chance to stage the finals in two years’ time, which has meant that the original hosts for both the 2021 and 2023 finals have been asked to delay their tournaments.

Ivory Coast, which was set to host the 2021, has protested against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Guinea’s football federation announced on Monday that it has agreed to move its staging of the Nations Cup from 2023 to 2025.

The Cup of Nations will take place from June 15 to July 13 and Egypt is hosting the competition for a fifth time, having also done so in 1957, 1974, 1986 and 2006.

Egypt has just six months to prepare for the expanded 24-team finals, which kick off in June.

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