“Experience Your World.” What an appropriate theme for the 19th annual Pan African Film Festival, the largest and most prestigious Black film and arts festival in America.

From Feb. 16 through, Feb. 23, you will have the opportunity to experience the world through the eyes, and hearts of Black filmmakers from around the world, and the USA.

Actor Nate Parker serves as this year’s celebrity host. Parker has proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. We first witnessed his on-screen power in the 2007 award-winning film, “The Great Debaters.” Next followed the much touted film “The Secret Life of Bees,” and last year he starred as Civil Rights leader Ben Chavis in “Blood Done Sign My Name.” He’s set to star in “Red Tails” which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen–formerly the 332nd Fighter Group–the first African American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II.

The star-studded film festival will honor such notables as Phylicia Rashad, who will receive PAFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actress who is best known as Claire Huxtable on the classic “The Cosby Show,” will receive PAFF’s highest honor for her stage, television and film work. Her most recent work, Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.”

PAFF has selected at total of 121 films, representing 31 countries including 75 feature-length films (narrative and documentaries) and 46 short films. The festival will hand out prizes for best documentary feature, best documentary short, best narrative short, best narrative feature, and best first feature film, as well as audience favorite awards at the close of the festival.

On Feb. 16, the opening night gala hosted by Parker will feature an all-star cast in “35 and Ticking” written and directed by Russ Parr, who holds down a day job as a syndicated radio host. The film is a romantic comedy about a group of 30-somethings, trying to figure out their love lives while coping with getting older. The film stars an ensemble cast with Nicole Ari Parker, Tamala Jones, Kevin Hart, Keith Robinson, Meagan Good, Mike Epps, Kym Whitley, Clifton Powell, Jill Marie Jones, Dondre Whitfield and Aaron D. Spear. The opening night gala takes place at the Culver Plaza Theatre, located at 9919 Washington Blvd.

Thursday, the “Night of Tribute,” begins at 7 p.m. at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, located at 4718 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles. The televised event will honor Rashad and other well-known actors, filmmakers, community leaders and artists for their contributions in the film and entertainment industry.

On Feb. 18, the stirring stage presentation of “Pistols & Prayers” at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. This thought-provoking play brings together spoken word, African American Folk Spirituals, Classical and Hip Hop music–all in celebration of the African Diaspora.

Written and directed by nationally-renowned spoken word artist Ise Lyfe, “Pistols and Prayers” is a powerful poetic collage of sociopolitical commentary, blended with a glimpse into Lyfe’s coming of age as a man, artist, and advocate for social change.

The very popular spoken word fest is Saturday at the Culver Plaza Theatre, located at 9919 Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles and 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’s Fest is Saturday at the Culver Plaza Theatre, will feature various screenings from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Free and open to children and parents.

Various workshops and panels will be presented throughout the run of the festival, addressing topics that will engage, inform and enlighten festival attendees, discussed by industry and entertainment professionals.

The best way to get a complete list of the events, panels, films, documentaries, locations and for more information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.

Gail can be reached at hollywoodbychoice_gail@yahoo.com.