Pan African Film & Arts Festival Executive Director Ayuko Babu presents LA Councilwoman Heather Hutt with the Community Service Award at the PAFF Awards Brunch. (Photo credit: Platinum Star PR)

The slate of films and fashion and visual artists highlighted at the 31st Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival were possibly the strongest in years. From the opening night of the musical beauty of “Chevalier: The Untold True Story,” directed by Stephen Williams, written by Stefani Robinson and starring Kelvin Harrison and Minnie Driver, to the closing night of a thought-provoking film directed by Qasim Basir, “To Live & Die and Live,” starring Amin Joseph, Omari Hardwick, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Jeryl Prescott, PAFF delivered cinematic magic to Los Angeles.

Thousands of people attended PAFF making the Crenshaw District a hub of global opportunities to connect with the African Diaspora and beyond. The highlight for the filmmakers was the Filmmaker Awards Brunch held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on February 20. The capacity-filled space of filmmakers, directors, producers, actors, film distributors, and others in the entertainment industry were greeted by PAFF Executive Director and co-founder Ayuko Babu who reminded attendees about our heritage and the importance of making our mark in cinematic history.

The closing event also announced the Beah Richards Rising Star Award that honors emerging Black actors who have given outstanding performances in film & television and the Community Service Award that recognizes exceptional commitment to community service. This year’s honorees were actress Angela Lewis and L.A. Councilwoman Heather Hutt, respectively.

“We need the positivity and the investment in our Black filmmakers. I understand what our films mean for our people. We know our films do real well because during pandemic we were at home and we watched and supported Black filmmakers,” said Hutt, upon accepting the Community Service Award from Babu.

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“The Pan African Film Festival is the right platform for our films to be acknowledged and supported and I will continue to make an investment as a sponsor to make sure that this goes on for years.”

This year’s PAFF event, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was presented by Stocker Street Creative, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and FX Networks.

Snowfall Actress Angela Lewis receives the Beah Richards Award from Pan African Film & Arts Festival Executive Director and Co-Founder Ayuko Babu. (Photo: Platinum Star PR)

“Art is an economic indicator and Councilwoman Heather Hutt led the way to make sure PAFF happened,” said Global Economist Dr. E. Lance McCarthy and Digital Davos speaker. “As we look at growth in urban areas like Leimert Park and the Crenshaw District, it will take public  and private dollars to do such. We are fortunate to have a visionary and community leader in the 10th District who has the local and national connections.”

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award and it is not lost on me as I am closing six years on the show, that the repetition of the layers of legacy in which I am a part of the legacy of Snowfall, the legacy of Award-winning Director John Singleton and the legacy Award-winning Actress and Oscar nominee Beah Richards,” said Angela Lewis, actress from Snowfall as Louie, when she accepted the Beah Richards Award. “The legacy of these amazing actresses who I come behind and stand next to some of whom are my favorite actresses, so I am incredibly overwhelmed, honored and grateful to be a part of all of these lineages.” The FX series “Snowfall,” is in its final season.

If you missed the event, PAFF is offering encore access to a virtual screening to a limited number of films at between February 21-March 31, 2023, with new films added weekly.

The full list of Pan African Film Festival Award Winners:


Best Feature Narrative

Rye Lane (UK)

Director: Raine Allen-Miller


Best First Feature Narrative

A Song From the Dark (Nigeria/UK)

Director: Ogo Okpue


Best Feature Documentary

King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones (France/US)

Director: Harriet Marin Jones


Best First Feature Documentary

Wade in the Water: A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture (US)

Director: David Mesfin


Best Short Narrative

True Story: God Tells Bad Jokes (US)

Director: Matthew Law


Best Short Documentary

American Justice on Trial: People vs. Newton (US)

Directors: Andrew Abrahams & Herb Ferrette



Programmers’ Award: Best Narrative Feature

The Honeymoon (S.A.)

Director: Bianca Isaac


Programmers’ Award: Best Documentary Feature

The Africologist: The Chronicles of Africa (Cape Verde/Egypt/Ghana/Guinea Bissau/ Kenya/Morocco/Senegal/S.A./Tanzania)

Director: Valerio Lopes


Programmers’ Award: Best Short Narrative

Raw Materials (Jamaica)

director: Sosiessia Nixon-Kelly


Programmers’ Award: Short Documentary

Team Dream (US)

Director: Luchina Fisher



Best Narrative Feature

Dancing the Twist in Bamako (Senegal/Mali/Italy/France/Canada)

Director: Robert Guédiguian


Best Documentary Feature

Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet (US)

Director: Yvan Iturriaga & Francisco Nuñez


Best Short Narrative

We Were Meant To (US)

Director: Tari Wariebi


Best Short Documentary

Ifine (US/Sierra Leone)

Director: Adisa Gilbert & Ebony Gilbert