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PAFFs Night of Tributes

Gail Choice | 2/13/2013, 5 p.m.

Some of Hollywood's best talent, bar none, gathered together for a night of celebration, recognition and promise. The red-carpet event was presented by the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) and the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA).

PAFF honored the best and the brightest in its annual "Night of Tribute" on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.

PAFF's "Night of Tribute" honors world-renowned actors, filmmakers, community leaders and fine artists for their contributions on stage, television, film, the arts and the community.

The awards were handed out during the pre-show festivities of the AAFCA awards ceremony. This year, the two organizations collaborated to honor Black Hollywood's most deserving talent.

In a rare occurrence, the PAFF founders shared the stage for the first time and served as presenters during the awards ceremony. PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover ("The Color Purple," "Lethal Weapon"), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja'Net DuBois (best known for her role as Willona in the TV series, "Good Times") and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in African affairs. DuBois said, "I had a little money, and wanted to invest in the project. It's the best investment I've made!"

This year, award-winning actress Lynn Whitfield was feted with the festival's highest honor, a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in television and film. With more than 30 years in the entertainment industry, Whitfield vaulted to international fame in the HBO biopic, "The Josephine Baker Story," portraying the legendary international icon. For Whitfield's performance she received a Golden Globe nomination and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special or Miniseries. A native of Baton Rouge, La., Whitfield has won five NAACP Image Awards and received four nominations for her work in television and film, including "Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story," co-starring Jamie Foxx, and "The Josephine Baker Story."

Other honorees included Filippe Savadogo, the new Permanent Observer of La Francophonie (OIF) to the United Nation--Visionary Award; Christian Lara, considered the "Father of West Indian Cinema," having shot more than 20 feature films in the Caribbean, France, Canada and Africa--Pioneering Filmmaker Award; Nicole Beharie, a promising ingenue on the rise--Beah Richards Rising Star Actress Award. (In 2008, Beharie made her critically acclaimed acting debut in the indie, "American Violet," opposite Alfre Woodard, Tim Blake and Will Patton), and Omari Hardwick, an actor by day and poet by night--Canada Lee Rising Star Actor Award. (Hardwick has appeared in various independent films screened at PAFF, including a fan favorite "Everyday Black Man" and the critically acclaimed "I Will Follow." Currently, Hardwick is enjoying success in Ava DuVernay's film, "Middle of Nowhere," the winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.)

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.

For a complete film schedule and information regarding additional events, visit the Pan African Film Festival website at www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.