The Pan African Film and Art Festival (PAFF) is soon to kick-off at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Critics, creators and more join one another in sharing their love of film amongst the Black community. Beginning February 11-23, PAFF will debut over 150 films, host panels and multiple celebratory events all open to the public.
Spotlight films this year include “Hero,” “Zulu Wedding” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” which co-founder of PAFF Danny Glover appears in. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” stars Jimmie Fails and Jonathon Majors centers around a young man attempting to reclaim his childhood home – a now expensive house in a gentrified San Francisco neighborhood.
Glover shares his connection to the film both on a professional and emotional level, growing up in San Francisco, he remembers the effects gentrification had on his neighborhood. Mentally traveling back to when he was 29, working for the city government overlooking the changing dynamics of the neighborhood he once held a responsibility to as a child.
“I live in the house I lived in since I was 11-years-old. I thought about that in a relationship with The Last Black Man because this is emotional,” he said as he sat in front of his childhood home. The home which he now owns and purchased from its original owners through his parents.
“There were four houses, including the house I live in, with the people who knew my parents and worked at the post office. An identity that they embraced themselves. Being homeowners and being gainfully employed,” adding emphasis, “Not renters – homeowners.”
Still, reminiscing he shared, “They’re all gone now. I’m the only one left on the block and I was 29-years-old.”
Now at 73, he added, “What’s so tragic about this; none of the gains that they have received, the blessings they have retained, were passed on down to their children,” he continues, “San Francisco is gentrified. If I had to buy this house right now, I couldn’t afford it.”
However, for Glover and like the main characters, the film, the attachment to their home remains. “I love this city. I love the feel of this city; I loved it,” he stated. The sentiment being a strong emotional note carried throughout the film, which critics deemed a special film after watching just the first opening scenes.
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” won multiple awards at Sundance Film Festival, however, at PAFF the movie will be presented in an intimate fashion. Following the premiere scheduled for February 12 at the festival, a panel not only featuring actors Danny Glover and Jimmie Fails, but also community leaders Damien Goodman from the Crenshaw Subway Coalition and political strategist Jasmyne Cannick to complete the lineup. Together they will discuss the topic of gentrification and how to fight back against the displacement and alienation of people within the community.
As the purpose of PAFF is to allow the community to have involvement in the film industry, the panel perfectly seals the mission of the organization. Glover expressed, “[The panel] is going to be really exciting to add to the flavor of the film.”
As far as the festival itself, Glover is still proud and happy to have a stake in the magic created on a yearly basis. His connection to the film world but also the community and colleagues drives his purpose and keeps him going.
“Ayuko Babu and his incredible staff year in, year out presents such an extraordinary package of films,” Glover states speaking of his friend and fellow co-founder. “It’s unlike a lot of film festivals you go to.”
“Just normal, regular people, citizens of Los Angeles, citizens of that community in which the festival has its home; come and see and be a part of our extended family and increasingly extended family.”
To gather more information about Pan African Film and Art Festival, buy passes and tickets, or learn about volunteer opportunities visit https://www.paff.org/.