BeBe Zahara Benet and award-winning journalist Jasmyne Cannick (Koi Sojer/ Snap’N U Photos)

Sponsored by Gilead Sciences, the Pan African Film & Arts Festival showcased the vibrant tapestry of  Black LGBTQ stories with the spotlight screening of “Being BeBe: The BeBe Zahara Benet Documentary.” Held at the prestigious Cinemark Baldwin Hills & XD in Los Angeles, California, on Sat., Feb. 17, the event marked a celebration of diversity, inclusion, and the power of storytelling to unite audiences across boundaries and brought out a diverse group of celebrities.

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Directed by Emily Branham, “Being BeBe” offers an intimate and inspiring portrait of the iconic drag queen and Black LGBTQ immigrant activist BeBe Zahara Benet.  Immigrating from Cameroon, where Queerness is criminalized, a young man finds his purpose through performance and eventually becomes the very first winner of iconic reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Marshall Ngwa (aka BeBe Zahara Benet) came to the US in pursuit of education and discovered his gifts in the art form of drag. Filmed over 15 years, the documentary parallels Marshall’s fight to maintain the trajectory of his career alongside a deep connection with his traditional African roots and family.

BeBe attended the screening in Los Angeles, along with director Emily Branham.  Award-winning journalist Jasmyne Cannick moderated a Q&A with both following the screening.

Celebrities including (front row, from left) Amin Joseph, Kareem Grimes, Award-winning journalist and advocate Jasmyne Cannick, and Gilead Sciences, Inc. Deborah Wafer. (back row, from left) Jay Reeves, Andra Fuller retired NBA champion John Salley, BeBe Zahara Benet (center), Terayle Hill, Zimzon Zion, and actor Jimmy Jean Louis at the Cinemark BHC in Los Angeles, California on February 17, 2024, for the Pan African Film & Arts Festival Spotlight Screenings of ‘Being BeBe’. (Koi Sojer/ Snap’N U Photos/MediaPunch)

The screening at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival provided a platform for “Being BeB”’ to reach a diverse audience eager to engage with LGBTQ narratives. The festival’s commitment to showcasing underrepresented voices and fostering dialogue around issues of race, identity, and sexuality made it the perfect venue for the documentary’s premiere.

“We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on “Being BeBe” and celebrate the incredible legacy of BeBe Zahara Benet,” said Cannick, who has been a part of the festival for more than 20 years. “At the Pan African Film & Arts Festival, we believe in the power of film to challenge perceptions and create meaningful change. This documentary exemplifies that ethos, and we are honored to share it with our audiences.”

The screening was also supported by the Black AIDS Institute and BAJI, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.