Ayuko Babu, executive director of the Pan African Film Festival, accepts a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the festival from the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). AMAA, considered the “African Oscars,” honors top films and performances from Africa and its Diaspora. Photo courtesy of PAFF.
After a month-long business trip to Africa visiting an international film festival and several film events, Ayuko Babu, executive director of the Pan African Film Festival along with director of programming, Asantewa Olatunji, returned to Los Angeles with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Movie Academy Awards. AMAA, considered the “African Oscars,” held its ninth award ceremony on April 20, in Yenagoa, Nigeria, the Bayelsa state capital, honoring top films and performances from Africa and its Diaspora.
PAFF wrapped its 21st anniversary with the documentary, “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,” directed by Shola Lynch at the Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. In February, the festival screened a total of 154 films, representing 34 countries — that is, 23 documentaries, 13 short documentaries, 67 narrative features, and 51 narrative shorts.
“It’s very humbling to receive such a prestigious honor from the African Movie Academy,” said Babu. “It’s thrilling for the work of the Pan African Film Festival to be recognized on this level by the international film community. It’s also a testament to the contribution and global impact this film festival has made in bringing stories from around the world to American audiences.”
While in Africa, Babu and Olatunji were special guests of the Pan African Festival of Cinema and Television (FESPACO) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as well as the nomination committee meetings for AMAA in Lilongwe, Malawi. The two also attended the official press launch for the Accra International Film Festival held near the Du Bois Centre in Accra, Ghanna.
Earlier this year, PAFF also received the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), recognizing its contribution to cinematic arts.
The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is an official event of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa’s Celebration of African American Heritage Month. PAFF is sponsored by Union Bank; Macy’s; Wells Fargo Bank; General Motors; Sony Pictures, CareMore; Water Replenishment District of Southern California; South African Airways; the National Film and Video Foundation; One Village; Addco Party Rentals; TestFlick; O.N.E. Coconut Water; Dama Tequila and Mascarade Liqueur; the Department of Cultural Affairs, the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; as well as Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District) and Los Angeles City Council members Bernard C. Parks (District 8), Jan Perry (District 9), and council president Herb J. Wesson Jr. (District 10).
Wrapping up its 21st anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.