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The first weekend of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival is a wrap. Hopefully, you were able to view some of the created expressions on display in the selected films and ArtFest.

Don’t fret; there is still plenty of time to get in on the fun, culturally enriching experience offered during the 23rd Annual Pan Africa Film and Arts Festival, held at the RAVE Cinemas 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

RAVE Cinema 15: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

My musical exploration began with Hear Me Move. One could easily witness how American hip hop, krumping, stepping and bounce, etc. is connected to the hypnotic dance moves in South Africa. This movie was bursting at the rim with the explosive energy of South African youth.

Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band was a remarkable biography/concert footage about the brilliant arranger and composer Mary Lou Williams. Everyone left the screening with a better appreciation and understanding of her tremendous body of work in jazz.

Oggun: An Eternal Presence is the story of the magical legend Oggun, the Yoruba god of metals, iron and warfare. The audience and I were treated to a double dose of delight. Oggun: The Eternal Presence was intertwined with and narrated by the spiritual life story of Lazaro Ros, Cuba’s leading akpwon (singer) in Santeria ceremonies. If that wasn’t enough, scenes from a toque (Yoruba ceremony) were danced by members of Cuba’s acclaimed Conjunto Folklorico National.

Una Vida: A Fable of the Music and the Mind is based on the novel of the same name by Dr. Nicolas Bazan, an acclaimed Neuroscientist. This was a touching story about a lovely street musician, Una Vida, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and the effort by a disheartened Neuroscientist who is intent on helping her. I found myself reminiscing about past visit to the Crescent City because the director and his team did an excellent job of bringing together the city of New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous. The film stars Bill Cobb, Ajujanue Ellis, Andre Royo, Ruth Negga and Sharon Lawrence. The Q&A featured Bill Cobb, Sharon Lawrence and Tom Lembcke, Director of Photography, as they talked about the making of the movie as well as the continued research by Dr. Bazan to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

Tom Lembcke, Sharon Lawrence and Bill Cobb: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Tom Lembcke, Sharon Lawrence and Bill Cobb: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

I look forward to viewing additional movies throughout the duration of the festival, now through Monday, February 16th. There is also a Spoken Word Fest, PAFF Fashion Show, ARTFEST, PAFF Community Forum, PAFF Film Institute and PAFF New Media Fest. AS you can see, there is something for everyone.

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