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PAFF 20th anniversary highlights

Gail Choice | 2/8/2012, 5 p.m.

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) celebrates its 20th anniversary starting this evening with the opening-night gala and screening of the Los Angeles premiere of "Think Like a Man."
Based on the New York Times best-selling book by television-and-radio host and comic, Steve Harvey. The ensemble cast includes Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, Gabrielle Union and Chris Brown.

PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover ("The Color Purple," "Lethal Weapon"), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja'Net DuBois ("Good Times") and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in African Affairs. PAFF is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibition of films, art and creative expression.

PAFF, America's largest and most prestigious international Black film festival, opens at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 (formerly the AMC Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15) at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The theater is situated on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Marlton Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.

The festival has selected a total of 170 films, representing 30 countries--106 feature length films (narrative and documentaries) and 64 short films. PAFF will award the best documentary feature, best documentary short, best narrative dhort, best narrative feature, and best first feature film, as well as audience favorites at the close of the festival.

Saturday Night Special, Part 1
"Slavery by Another Name" debuts Feb. 11. Directed by Sam Pollard and developed by National Productions for PBS, the documentary is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Wall Street Journal journalist Donald Blackmon.

It challenges one of our country's most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The documentary recounts how in the years following the Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, keeping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in bondage, trapping them in a brutal system that would persist until the onset of World War II.

Centerpiece Presentation
"The Under Shepherd," Feb. 16. Directed by Russ Parr. Best friends LC and Roland are two young, ambitious ministers, climbing the ranks at the First Baptist Church. Coming up under the leadership of Dr. Ezekial Canon, the church's elderly pastor, Roland and LC have dreams of becoming the predecessors of the aging pastor. But, the feeble Dr. Canon stubbornly refuses to step down, forcing the two young ministers to make pivotal decisions that ultimately fray the fabric of their deeply-woven friendship. "The Under Shepherd" co-stars Isaiah Washington and Lamman Rucker.

Saturday Night Special, Part 2
"We the Party," Feb. 18. Directed by Mario Van Peebles. Set in Los Angeles, a cutting edge, Hip-Hop infused dramedy about the first generation of high schoolers to come of age during the Obama years. The film features some of the latest teenage bands and dance crews. This coming-of-age comedy stars Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson Whitfield, Tiny Lister, Orlando Brown and rappers Snoop Dogg, YG, the New Boyz and Pink Dollaz.