Pan African Film and Arts Festival kicks off in South L.A.

By Subrina Hudson
Associate Editor

The 21st Pan African Film and Arts Festival opened on Thursday at the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza giving residents and visitors in South LA a chance to view African art and watch films touching on the African and African-American community.

imageThe art festival inside the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza. (Photo by Subrina Hudson)

The film festival, hosted by Actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield, is the largest international Black film festival in the country and features a 10-day long art festival with over 100 established and emerging artists showcasing everything from fine art and fashion to home furnishings.

Viveca Mays has been an artist for over 30 years, and said it was her first time showcasing her work at the art festival. After joining Art 2000, a non-profit visual art association founded by Artist Charles Bibbs, Mays said she was invited by Bibbs to present her work along with several other artists in the association.

“It has been very good considering that this is a regular mall day and everybody is doing their regular shopping,” said Mays. “We’ve had a lot of traffic coming through, which is surprising because Mr. Bibbs said usually the first day is kind of the work day, setting up, but it’s been good.”

Artist Djibril N’Doye said he has participated in the art festival for ten years but did not present for the last three years. During that time, the film festival was shown at a theater in Culver City and the art festival remained inside the mall, leaving less visitors and potential customers.

imageArtist Viveca Mays’ artwork is open for the public to view and purchase. (Photo by Subrina Hudson)

“This festival is important for this community and beyond because most of the theme of the films have a connection with Africa, African history and African culture and all the artists who are displaying their artwork also harken on the same subject…this is like family,” said N’Doye.

N’Doye, who is self-taught, creates his artwork with a ballpoint pen. Growing up in Senegal, his father could not afford to send him to an art school. So, N’Doye decided that he would teach and train himself.

He said his medium helps hims show that it doesn’t matter what an individual’s income is because art “is an open door to everybody.”

“It’s in your heat. It has a very high dimension and culture and history. This is building bridges across cultures,” he said.

imageArtist Djibril N’Doye with his artwork. (Photo by Subrina Hudson)

The same goal was kept in mind for the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), according to Wyllisa Bennett, publicist for the Pan African Film Festival.

“We want to stay in the community, and the films showcase the work around the country and puts it in the heart of the black community,” said Bennett.

Films like the documentary “Red, White, Black and Blue,” which recently won “Best Documentary at the Idyllwild CinemaFest, will be available for visitors to watch at the Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills. “Red, White, Black and Blue” is just one of 154 films, representing 34 countries, that PAFF selected for this year’s film festival.

PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-wining Actor Danny Glover, Emmy-award winning Actress Ja’Net DuBois and Executive Director Ayuko Babu. The Pan African Film Festival is a non-profit corporation that looks to promote ethnic and racial respect through films and art.

For showtimes and tickets, click here.

Face lift intended to do more than refurbish Baldwin Hills mall

By Samantha Hermann

When Vince St. Thomas showed up at the food court of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall to do a crossword puzzle he was taken aback by what he found. The center of the food court had been blocked off leaving only the seats around the perimeter available for patrons.

“I have no idea what they are doing.” said St. Thomas, who shopped at the mall on a recent Sunday. “I see all this stuff going on and every time I come by for the last two or three months or so I have been surprised.”

What they are doing is completing an extensive renovation of the mall, which first opened as the Broadway-Crenshaw Center in 1947, and is among the oldest regional shopping centers in the country. The mall saw its last major overhaul in the late 1980’s and has long been considered an economic and cultural hub in South Los Angeles.

But, without any significant renovation in more than 20 years, it was sorely in need of a facelift.

Read more…