‘Great Debater’ Nate Parker Named Celebrity Host of 19th Annual Pan African Film Festival
Opening of Film Festival Is Just Around the Corner
Festival Set to Engage, Inform and Enlighten Attendees for Black History Month
LOS ANGELES – The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) tapped actor Nate Parker to serve as its 2011 celebrity host for its 19th annual film festival. PAFF is set to take place February 16-23, 2011 at the Culver Plaza Theatre, located at 9919 Washington Blvd in Los Angeles. It will kick off festivities with a star-studded opening night on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at the Directors Guild Theatre, located at 7920 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.
A two-time NAACP Image Award nominee and a rising star in Hollywood, Parker is set to portray the starring role of Marty “Easy” Julian in “Red Tails,” a George Lucas Production, which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen — formerly the 332nd Fighter Group — the first African American pilots in to fly in a combatsquadron during World War II. Nicknamed Red Tails because they painted the tails of their fighter planes the color of red, the Tuskegee Airmen were a distinguished group of pilots who never lost a fighter jet in more than 200 combat missions, a record unmatched by any other fighter group.
In 2007, Parker made quite an impression on audiences in the award-winning film, “The Great Debaters,” directed by Oscar-winner Denzel Washington. He followed that up with a starring role, opposite Grammy-winning artist Alicia Keys, in “The Secret Life of Bees.” And last year, Parker gave a powerful performance as the young civil rights leader Ben Chavis — the youngest person to become the executive director of the NAACP – in the movie adaptation of “Blood Done Sign My Name,” based on the autobiographical work of history by award-winning novelist Timothy B. Tyson.
“The film festival applauds the fine work of Nate Parker,” said Ayuko Babu, founder and executive director of PAFF. “In his young film career, Nate has chosen important roles that showcase the Black experience and reflect the resiliency of African American people. Through his craft, he is an amazing storyteller, and the film festival is happy to support his efforts.” Last year, PAFF kicked off its film festival on opening night with the screening of “Blood Done Sign My Name.”
“I am honored to be embraced by the Pan African Film Festival,” said Parker. I’ve been really fortunate to portray interesting characters who through their own sheer will, changed perceptions about the abilities and accomplishments of African Americans.” He continued, “For 19 years, the film festival has nurtured African and African American filmmakers from all around the world, bringing incredible stories about the human experience. This festival is an important showcase, supporting the new works of independent filmmakers and increasing the visibility of their work.”
About the Pan African Film Festival
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), America’s largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival, is gearing up for its 19th year of screening more than 100 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.
PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as the busybody neighbor Willona in the TV series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in African Affairs. PAFF is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art and creative expression.
The goal of PAFF is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience. PAFF believes film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time, serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.
Other festival highlights include:
- PAFF Fine Arts Show – February 16-21, 2011 at the Westfield Culver Plaza, located at 6000 Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City. The art show will feature more than 50 emerging and established fine artists whose work is rooted in an African aesthetic.
· The Night of Tribute – Thursday, February 17, 2011 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, located at 4718 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles. The televised event honors world-renownedactors, filmmakers, community leaders and artists for their contributions in the film and entertainment industry.
- Pistols and Prayers- Friday, February 18, 2011 brings together on one stage Spoken Word, African-American Folk Spirituals, Classical Music, Hip-Hop, and Theater. The interweaving of these threads evolve into an amazing and thought provoking fabric of a theater performance piece, celebrating the African Diaspora, while simultaneously exploring the impact and contributions this vast body has on the American and Urban American experience. Written and directed by nationally renowned Spoken Word Hip-Hop Theater Artist, Ise Lyfe – “Pistols and Prayers” is a powerful poetic collage of sociopolitical commentary, blended with a glimpse into his coming of age as a man, artist, and advocate for social change. A full production accompanied musically by a live DJ on stage, along with cello and song.
- SpokenWord Fest – Saturday, February 19, 2011 at the Culver Plaza Theatre, located at 9919 Washington Blvd in Los Angeles, will feature some of the country’s most talented wordsmiths and spoken word artists to entertain and enlighten the consciousness of film festival goers.
- Children’sFest – Saturday, February 19, 2011 at the Culver Plaza Theatre, located at 9919 Washington Blvd in Los Angeles will feature various screenings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. free and open to children and parents.
- various workshops and panels – presented throughout the run of the festival, addressing topics that will engage, inform and enlighten festival attendees, discussed by industry and entertainment professionals.