Highlights include Filmmaker Awards Brunch, spotlight screening of ‘Genius: MLK/X’, ArtFest, and dozens of screenings of films

The last day of the Pan African Film & Arts Festival is today, Monday, February 19, 2024.

The film festival will take place at Cinemark Baldwin Hills & XD and the ArtFest featuring over 100 fine artists from throughout the African Diaspora will take place at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and Cinemark Baldwin Hills & XD, 4020 Marlton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

The events today include ARTFEST from 10AM - 9PM at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The PAFF  ArtFest features over 100 established and emerging fine artists and unique craftspeople from all over the world. With an artistic aesthetic that is rooted in Africa and its Diaspora, featured artists present their creative works using oil on canvas, watercolor and pastels, acrylic paper, glass, ceramics, metal, cloth, plastic, wax, wire, leather, and stone. In addition to fine art and one-of-a-kind crafts, the ArtFEST also features the best in designer and traditional fashions, jewelry, home decor, fashion accessories and so much more!

Representing the perfect mix of both art and culture, the PAFF ArtFEST brings out over 100K+ visitors from all over Los Angeles, across the country, and around the world.

FILMMAKER AWARDS BRUNCH is at 11: 00 a.m. at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 2nd Floor Bridge

Celebrating the best in Black independent storytelling at the 2024 PAFF Filmmaker Awards Brunch and announcing the winners of this year’s film festival audience and jury awards.

‘GENIUS: MLK/X’ will screen at 7:00 p.m. at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills & XD.


GENIUS: MLK/X follows both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and Malcom X (Aaron Pierre) from their formative years, where they were molded by strong fathers and traumatic injustices, to their rich, parallel stories as they shaped their identities and became the change they wished to see in the world. The docudrama series offers an intimate look into their complex lives as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, taking them off the iconic T-shirts to show their humanity. GENIUS: MLK/X brings their wives, Coretta Scott King (Weruche Opia) and Betty Shabazz (Jayme Lawson), who are often portrayed as peripheral figures, to the forefront and shows them as formidable equals of the Movement. Episodes will explore the moments between the monumental historical events we’ve come to know and shine a light on how each leader and those closest to them questioned their resolve and decisions as they navigated the rigors of balancing a public persona with a private life. While King and X met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other.

Following the screening there will be a Q&A with Reggie Rock Bythewood – Executive Producer, Gina Prince-Bythewood – Executive Producer, Raphael Jackson Jr. – Executive Producer and Showrunner, Damione Macedon – Executive Producer and Showrunner and Weruche Opia, who protrays Coretta Scott King.


The 32nd Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) makes its return to Los Angeles February 6-19, 2024 at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills XD and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza to present and showcase a broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes of Africans and African-Americans.

Since 1992, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, PAFF has remained dedicated to the promotion of Black stories and images through the exhibition of film, visual art, and other creative expression. Today, PAFF is one of the largest and most prestigious Black film festivals in the U.S. and attracts local, national, and international audiences. In addition, it is an Oscar-qualifying festival for animation and live-action films, and one of the largest Black History Month events in America.

PAFF is supported in part by the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, LA Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, LA Councilmember Curren Price, LA Councilmember Heather Hutt, LA County Department of Arts and Culture, the LA County COVID-19 Arts Relief Fund administered by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture, Senator Steve Bradford, and Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas.

The 2024 PAFF is possible through the generous support of sponsors including Color Creative, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Stocker Street Creative, Disney, Andscape, BET+, Paramount Pictures, National Geographic, Black Alliance for Justice Immigration, Cal State University, Los Angeles.

For more information, please visit



The Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) is thrilled to announce that actor/director Bill Duke will receive the Ja’Net Dubois Lifetime Achievement Award during its Centerpiece on Thu., Feb. 15 at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. PAFF’s Centerpiece will feature the world premiere of the Ethiopian war film “For the Love of the Motherland.

Duke will receive his award today, Thursday, February 15, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. at the Directors Guild of American, 7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

On hand will be Actor and Director Bill Duke, Theodros Teshome Kebede, Director, “For the Love of the Motherland.” Other notable guests, elected officials, foreign dignitaries, and talent

Originally the Pan African Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, but renamed after the late “Good Times” actress and co-founder of PAFF, The Ja'Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement award holds immense significance within the Black entertainment industry and beyond, serving as a beacon of recognition for individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the arts, culture, and society at large. Named in honor of the iconic actress, singer, and humanitarian, Ja'Net DuBois, this award celebrates a lifetime of creativity, innovation, and dedication to one's craft. It not only commemorates the outstanding achievements of its recipients but also highlights their enduring impact on audiences, communities, and future generations. Through honoring individuals who have left an indelible mark on the world through their talent, advocacy, and philanthropy, the Ja'Net DuBois Lifetime Achievement award inspires others to strive for excellence and use their talents to make a positive difference in the world. Past recipients have included Beah Richards (2000), Danny Glover (2003), Melvin Van Peebles (2004), and Alfre Woodard (2017).

About Bill Duke

Bill Duke is an actor, director, producer and humanitarian in Hollywood, with more than 40 years of experience on-screen and behind the camera. His acting credits include recent television and feature film roles on HBO Max.  Mr. Duke appeared in “No Sudden Move” with Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brandon Frazier, and Julia Fox. He was also in Starz “Gaslit” with Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, Tyler Perry’s “The Oval,” “Black Lightning,” the critically acclaimed “Mandy,” and the highly lauded Stephen Soderbergh film “High Flying Bird”. Bill Duke is known worldwide for roles in “Predator,” “American Gigolo,” “Car Wash,” “Action Jackson,” “Commando,” “Menace II Society,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” “X-Men 3,” “Henry's Crime,” “The Big Bang,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Karen Sisco,” and “Lost”.

Bill is legendary for his directing prowess and agility in television and film as the first Black director on numerous television shows. His credits for film and television include, “Falcon Crest,” “Dallas,” “Knots Landing,” “Fame,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Miami Vice,” and PBSʼ “The Killing Floor” for which he won the Sundance Special Jury Award in 1985, just to name a few.

The accolades continued with a feature film directorial debut in 1991 for “A Rage in Harlem,” which was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival for the prestigious Palme dʼOr. This global recognition led to further opportunities including directing feature more feature films and documentaries: “Sister Act 2,” “Deep Cover,” “Hoodlum,” “The Cemetery Club,” “Not Easily Broken,” “Deacons for Defense,” and the documentaries “Dark Girls” and “Light Girls”.

“Dark Girls” aired on Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network and succeeded as one of the most successful programs on the network.

Most recently, Bill directed the feature film, “Created Equal” and was featured in the documentaries, “What is a Man,” and “What is a Woman”. He's currently working on several film and TV projects. Bill's autobiography, “Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and Behind the Camera” was released in November 2018. He also authored “The Journey: Tale of Human Healing” and “Works of the Invisible Man”.

Throughout the course of his career, Bill Duke has been recognized by prestigious leaders and institutions for his work in television and film. He was appointed to the National Endowment of Humanities by President Bill Clinton and the Board of the California State and Film Commission by Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has also served on the Board of Trustees at the American Film Institute and as the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at Howard University. He was also recognized by his peers with a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America’s African- American Steering Committee in 2010. In May of 2022, Bill was honored at The Jonathan Foundation for Learning Disabilities Gala for being an entertainment legend and humanitarian. On June 20, 2022, Bill was honored to be in the Kingdom Day Parade with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. November 19, 2022, Bill gained another honor at the 11th Annual “I've Known Rivers Film Festival when he received the Living Legend Award along with a Certificate of Appreciation from the California Assembly.

In addition to working on creative projects in Hollywood, the multi-hyphenate superstar has added another sobriquet to his long list of titles--digital network owner. On May 9, 2022, the YOUNITE Network launched, and will morph into a global media force, with global initiatives in the works. Bill also created Duke Media Entertainment to bring quality "Edutainment" to audiences around the globe. He coined the word to symbolize entertainment that also includes an educational element for the audience. Formerly Yagya Productions, Duke Media has successfully produced critically acclaimed film and television content for more than 30 years.

Additionally, Duke Media is in process of expanding its brand through the development of new media technologies, i.e. cellphone apps, games, and virtual/metaverse world experiences. Since the early 70s, Bill Duke along with industry veterans Michael Shultz and Gordon Parks, have long paved the way for the furtherance of African American actors, writers, directors, and producers in the entertainment and technology industries. Bill Duke has taught the fundamentals of acting to many young aspiring thespians which includes some of today's superstars such as Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson, Shemar Moore, LisaRaye McCoy, Kevin Carroll, Monica Calhoun, Chris Spencer and Emayatzy Corinealdi.

Giving back has been a large part of Bill's Hollywood legacy. He runs the Duke Media Foundation, which for the last ten years has prepared youth for the future by exposing them to specific new media and financial literacy tools. This will enable them to compete, survive, and thrive. The economy is experiencing a paradigm shift far beyond film and TV to media. Film and TV are still important parts of the entertainment landscape.  However, new media content has become a dominant force to be reckoned with. Bill encourages students to explore and master new technology as it emerges and evolves.

About For the Love of the Motherland

“For the Love of the Motherland” will reflect how the Tigray War in Ethiopia has fueled divides members of the diaspora. A war that has killed an estimated 162,000-378,000 people, with other reported estimates reaching numbers as high as 600,000 killed.

For many Ethiopians residing in Los Angeles, the premiere of “For the Love of the Motherland” represents a significant moment of cultural recognition and storytelling. Theodore Teshome, whose previous works have garnered critical acclaim for their poignant portrayal of Ethiopian history and identity, has spent years meticulously researching and crafting this film to capture the multifaceted narratives of individuals directly impacted by the conflict.

“For the Love of the Motherland” will reflect how the Tigray War in Ethiopia has fueled divides members of the diaspora. A war that has killed an estimated 162,000-378,000 people, with other reported estimates reaching numbers as high as 600,000 killed.

The film tells the intimate story of Hayelom and Lielt who are deeply in love. He is from Tigray region in Ethiopia and she is from Ethiopia’s Amhara region. Their love faces an expected turn when Tigray militants invade the Amhara region to take over power of the central government. He joins the militants, she joins the Ethiopian Defense Force, and they become enemies looking to kill one another.

Directed and written by Theodros Teshome Kebede, the film stars Debebe Eshetu, Getahun Hailu, and Tsigereda Bekele.

Hallmark Red Carpet Premiere for ‘Sense and Sensibility’ at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival


Starring Deborah Ayorinde (Actor, “Elinor”), Roger Bobb (Director), Tia A. Smith (Executive Producer), Kara Saun (Costume Designer) Toni Judkins (SVP Programming & Development, Mahogany Originals, Hallmark Media)

About the Film

Deborah Ayorinde (Them), Bethany Antonia (House of the Dragon), Dan Jeannotte (The Royal Nanny) and Akil Largie (The Sandman) star in a beautiful period adaptation in Sense and Sensibility, a new, original movie and Mahogany Original, premiering Saturday, February 24 (8 p.m. ET/PT), on Hallmark Channel.  The movie is part of the network’s Loveuary with Jane Austen programming event, honoring the author’s timeless legacy with four all-new original movie premieres, every Saturday in February.  Set in Regency-era England, it features original costumes by Kara Saun (Project Runway) and hair designs by Kim Kimble (Euphoria). Author and historian Vanessa Riley (Island Queen) served as a historical consultant.

Where My Memory Began – Nominated for Best Short at PAFF 2024

Writer and Director: Priscillia Kounkou Hoveyda

"WHERE MY MEMORY BEGAN", a 9 min experimental short doc that lyrically tells the story of the fallen 400-year-old Cotton tree that saw the capital city of Sierra Leone, West Africa, take on the name "freedom town", today's Freetown, after freed slaves from the US and Canada decided to return to Africa to find freedom some hundreds years ago. In addition to PAFF and although it is not public info, we are also an official selection for Aspen Shortfest and are excited to hear from other prestigious film festivals. 

Empowering Hearts: 19-Year-Old Refugee Girl Champions Mental Wellness for Refugee Youth Spotlighted in Documentary, Pan African Film Festival World Premiere

Los Angeles, Cali. (Feb. 5, 2024) –

As a child of Rwandan refugees, Divine Mugisha
has been living in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp since she was nine months old. Extreme poverty, hunger, and mental health challenges plague the camp. Despite facing these hardships herself, Divine advocates for education access and mental health services for her refugee community.

As a young advocate, she founded the Supportive Pillar Organization (SPO) to help youth stay in school. During the development of SPO, she discovered that mental health issues were a serious obstacle preventing people in the camp from continuing their education. Divine realizes that she must now leave her lifelong home, friends, and family to pursue her own education so that she can better address the tragic mental health issues at the camp.

The powerful documentary short "A Divine Journey" follows Divine through her
personal journey volunteering, teaching and serving others as she aspires for higher
education and awaits acceptance to university.

The world premiere of “A Divine Journey" will be at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2024 at Cinemark Baldwin Hills Crenshaw.

The story examines how an underserved yet dedicated and determined young woman
can change the world for many. Audiences will witness a passionate young woman
who defies the odds and rises above her hardships as she starts a non-profit cause
and serves her community at Dzaleka refugee camp.

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) showcases a broad array of Black creative works from the world over, highlighting those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes. The festival spotlights over 200 films elevated by black filmmakers with subject matter by African talent, telling stories about Africans and people with African descent.

“We work to produce documentaries that spotlight positive stories from Africa,” said
Ivanovitch Ingabire, Burundi based co-director of ”A Divine Journey.”

"I am honored and proud to bring Divine's inspiring journey to the Pan African Film
Festival," said Annette King, the producer and co-director of the documentary from
Splicer Films. “We see this as an opportunity to uplift an inspiring yet underrepresented story about a young African changemaker solving issues at a grassroots level. By telling Divine’s inspirational story, we aim to foster resilience,
compassion, and empowerment to bring about change in the world around us”

"A Divine Journey" will screen at the upcoming Pan African Film Festival, along with other films including narrative short film "Kingdom On The Coast" and the comedy special "We're Pregnant and Other Lies". All three films are directed by African filmmakers and talent that come from diverse backgrounds who aim to share diverse
stories of underrepresented groups from new perspectives.

Pan African Film Festival(PAFF) is the largest and most prestigious Black film festival in the United States. From 100 million dollar blockbuster premieres to newly emerging Hollywood talent, PAFF showcases a broad array of Black creative works from the world over, highlighting those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes. PAFF is a unique opportunity to come together through film and
art to explore new worlds, meet new people and acquire new information and ideas.

For more information, visit:

For more information on the the cause in the film, visit Supportive Pillar Organization
(SPO) website:

About Splicer Films:
Splicer Films is a Palo Alto based production company focused on telling stories of purpose  and impact that inspire audiences to create a better world.

Additional Films by Splicer Films:

Additional documentaries by Palo Alto based Impact Producer, Annette King are
"Finding Ubuntu" and “Fear Not”.

“Finding Ubuntu” follows the inspiring journey of Maick Mutej, a refugee who emerges as a human rights advocate for thousands of refugees.Maick's story exemplifies resilience, compassion, and the transformative impact of community based organizations.

“Fear Not” explores a passionate grassroots changemaker, Evelyne Keomian, in her
quest to break the cycle of poverty through education for her communities in Côte
d'Ivoire and Silicon Valley.

For more information about Splicer Films event  screenings, visit:

“Gaining Ground: The Fight for Black Land” Screening at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival


Gaining Ground: The Fight for Black Land is a stirring 2023 documentary produced by NBC personality Al Roker and written and directed by Emmy-nominated Director Eternal Polk. In addition to being selected for PAFF, Director Eternal Polk has also been nominated for a Jury Prize: Best Director – First Feature Documentary.

In the post-enslavement era, Black Americans acquired millions of acres of farmland, 90% of which is no longer in Black hands due to violence, eminent domain, and discrimination. But a lesser-known issue, “Heirs' Property,” has had a devastating effect on Black land ownership. This film spotlights the legacy of Black farming in America and how landowners are now reclaiming their agricultural rights and forging paths to generational wealth.

Screening Dates/Times/Location

    • February 8 - 9pm
    • February 13 - 3:45pm
    • Cinemark Baldwin Hills Crenshaw - 3650 Martin Luther King Jr, Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90008 

The film recently won the 2024 Jury Prize at Brand Storytelling in Park City, Utah, an officially sanctioned event of the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to this award, Gaining Ground has racked up 18 festival selection laurels and the following awards at prestigious film festivals:

    • Best Documentary - FILMTEENTH International Film Festival - 2023
    • Best Feature Documentary - Essence Film Festival - 2023
    • Best Documentary Feature - DC Black Film Festival - 2023
    • Audience Choice Award - DC Black Film Festival - 2023
    • Best Documentary - BronzeLens Film Festival - 2023
    • Best Feature Film - Detroit Black Film Festival - 2023
    • Best Documentary Marcom Award -  Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) 2023
    • Best Trailer - Carolina Film Festival - 2023

Documentary from John Deere and Al Roker Entertainment Puts the Spotlight on Land Ownership Challenges Facing Black Farmers

MOLINE, Illinois (June 13, 2023) – Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) and Al Roker Entertainment today announced a new documentary focused on the legacy of Black farming in America and the devastating impact of heirs’ property – property passed to family members by inheritance, usually without a will or proper estate planning. Without a clear title, Black farmers are unable to qualify for government assistance, equipment financing or agricultural programs designed to optimize their land. In 2020, John Deere created the LEAP Coalition in partnership with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide resources for farmers and landowners to resolve heirs’ property issues.

“This film serves as an important platform for Black farmers to delve into their history while also discussing impactful ways to sustain agriculture and places to go for help with legislation and available grants,” said Al Roker, executive producer. “The organizations featured in the film are creating change and it’s one of the reasons our company was so interested in getting involved with this important work.”

Created in partnership with Emmy-nominated director Eternal Polk, the documentary, Gaining Ground: The Fight for Black Land, addresses how landowners are reclaiming their agricultural rights and their paths to generational wealth. The film will debut at the American Black Film Festival in Miami on June 15, 2023, and appear in screenings across the country this summer.

“Documentaries can offer a lens into history and shed light on a forgotten or untold story. It's more than just a form of storytelling, it's a way to offer new viewpoints on an issue, create lasting dialogue, and drive change,” said Gaining Ground director Eternal Polk. “With Deere’s support, we were honored to help bring this important story to life. This documentary provides resources to those who are dealing with heirs’ property and shows others how they can get involved to support this cause.”

Black land ownership peaked in 1910 at 16 to 19 million acres, which was about 14 percent of total arable land in the United States. A century later, 90 percent of Black-owned land has been lost, and heirs' property has been the leading cause for that decline. The documentary shines a spotlight on the challenges Black farmers and landowners’ must navigate to preserve their land for future generations. The film additionally showcases subject matter experts and practitioners who are actively working to address these issues.

"For farmers, land provides more than a livelihood, it provides a legacy. For far too long, Black farmers have had to deal with often coercive constraints, barriers and systems that result in involuntary loss of land, economic value and wealth. This documentary provides an opportunity for folks to tell their stories, highlight injustice and hopefully serve as a catalyst for concerted action to address this little known but important and pervasive issue” said Marc Howze, Senior Advisor, Office of the Chairman, Deere and Company. "The message of this documentary is clear: We need to do more to help Black farmers and landowners unlock the tremendous value in the land they already own to help us feed, clothe and shelter a growing population while pursuing opportunities to build wealth and provide a legacy for future generations.”


John Deere created the LEAP Coalition in 2020 in partnership with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The LEAP Coalition provides legal, educational and other resources to help farmers and landowning families gain clear title of their land. It works to unlock economic value for farmers, while also eliminating systemic barriers to wealth building faced by Black farmers and other historically disadvantaged communities.

To learn more about the LEAP Coalition, to help Black farmers, and provide support to support LEAP coalition partners visit:

To learn more about the documentary, visit:

About John Deere

Deere & Company ( is a global leader in the delivery of agricultural, construction, and forestry equipment. We help our customers push the boundaries of what's possible in ways that are more productive and sustainable to help life leap forward. Our technology-enabled products including John Deere Autonomous 8R Tractor and tillage solution, See & Spray™, and E-Power Backhoe are just some of the ways we help meet the world's increasing need for food, shelter, and infrastructure. Deere & Company also provides financial services through John Deere Financial.

For more information on Deere & Company, visit us at

About Al Roker Entertainment

Formed in 1994, Al Roker Entertainment (ARE) is an industry-leading producer of original, award-winning TV programs and digital content. Led by 14-time Emmy winning TV personality and trusted media authority Al Roker, ARE partners with a creative consortium of producers, directors, writers, agencies, and talent to ideate, produce, activate, and amplify original content globally, using a variety of broadcast, cable, OTT, social, and streaming platforms. ARE works with brands, non-profits, ad agencies, and PR companies to generate and inspire audiences through social impact branded entertainment storytelling.

Los Angeles’s PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL “SHAPING US” Exciting Debut Film by a Lagos-born Filmmaker


Shot entirely in a single location, SHAPING US is a thought-provoking, much needed film that explores and celebrates the love, beauty, and depth of human relationships, touching upon themes of motherhood, female emancipation, and friendship.

Kambili, a first time filmmaker was born in Lagos and raised in the UK. She channels her passion, diverse life experiences and commitment to truth in her work, and this film is particularly representative of her style and storytelling talent.

Kambili also appears in the film as Ara, one of the lead character - she is also an extremely talented actress.

I would love to know if you might be interested in covering the exciting news that SHAPING US will screen at The Pan African Film Festival? Might you be interested in an interview with Kambili?

The film is set to receive a lot of buzz across the festival circuit.

“Taking Back the Groove” Screening at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival


Director and Producer: Celia Aniskovich
Producer(s): Roddy Lindsay
Executive Producers; : Raekwon, Russell Peters, and Bradley Credit
Cinematographer; Brett Banks, Editor; Atish Mehta, Composer

Taking Back the Groove reintroduces the world to Bronx-born ’80s disco superstar Richie Weeks. A writer, singer, and producer who was compared to Quincy Jones at his height, Richie created quintessential New York Disco and performed in the likes of Studio 54 and Paradise Garage, all while maintaining day jobs as a postal worker and bricklayer. His mega-hit Rock Your World made it to #1 on the dance charts in the ’80s, and has since become a landmark song in the field of disco and house music.

While his ingenious mixes appealed to a kaleidoscope of glitter and lamé-clad partiers, his songs were never truly his own. Like many Black artists throughout American recording history, his talent was strip mined to enrich white-owed record labels.

When disco cooled down, Richie Weeks and many other artists like him faded from view. But now, a new series of previously unheard recordings, from his private trove of 300 vintage tracks, is bringing him fresh recognition.

Taking Back the Groove tells the story of how Richie Weeks clawed back the right to his own music in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and his ongoing fight to restore his legacy and share his music.

The Pan African Film and Arts Festival Anounces 2024 Launch of John Singleton Short Film Competition


The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) announces their call for submissions for their second season of their screenwriting competition, the John Singleton Short Film Competition. Three three filmmakers will be awarded $20,000 each for the production and completion of a live-action narrative short film of their winning screenplays. Submissions open January 6 and close on Feb. 19.

Inspired by the legacy of the Los Angeles-born and legendary filmmaker, John Singleton, PAFF’s short film competition is the result of a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Pan African Film Festival.

“We’re committed to fostering inclusivity and amplifying Black voices in film,” said Sherri G. Sneed, the competition’s executive producer. “Our program aims to empower emerging Black Filmmakers, providing not just a grant but resources, support and a platform to share powerful narratives. Together, we will enrich the cinematic landscape with diverse stories that resonate globally.”

John Singleton’s films are known for centering on Black characters with humanizing stories about the often-routine circumstances and individuals in society that were mostly ignored or exploited beyond the point of recognition. The goal of the competition is to encourage and ignite Black filmmakers who desire to continue that commitment in their creative approach by providing them with the financial resources to write, direct, and produce an original and innovative film that echoes the cultural contributions of John Singleton.

“Through this partnership with PAFF, we recognize the enduring impact of one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, John Singleton, and the transformative power of storytelling,” said Councilmember Heather Hutt. “We are empowering the next generation of cinematic visionaries, fostering creativity and cultural expression that enriches our city’s vibrant tapestry. Together, we are ensuring that the heart of filmmaking, right here in Los Angeles, continues to beat with innovation, diversity, and boundless possibility.”

Singleton’s mother Sheila L. Ward, “Again, I support the John Singleton Short Film Competition. I thank everyone involved in creating such a needed platform.    My son [John] would be proud.”

“As a first time filmmaker, the John Singleton Short Film Competition allowed me to blossom into a Black woman who learned her strengths as a creative, while also gaining insight about how to become an effective leader in business, added 2021 winner Chelsea Hicks (“Contrban”). “I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to create a beautiful story in honor of John Singleton’s legacy, and continue to be inspired by what he has accomplished to humanize our stories in film.”

“To walk in the path of John Singleton’s creative legacy is an honor,” 2021 winner TJ Ali (“The Lifted”). “It’s competitions like these that change lives, I’m a testament to that.”

“We are both so thrilled for the John Singleton Short Film Competition to continue,” said Jenesis Scott and Brandon Hammond, whose script for “Amaru” was a winner in 2021.  “The careers this competition can jumpstart going forward is unlimited. We are honored to be a part of that history and excited for this competition to become one of the most coveted awards in film.”

Under Councilmember Heather Hutt’s leadership, embRACE L.A. is an initiative aimed at unifying Angelenos and empowering communities through a citywide conversation about race and racism, challenging and changing inequities. embRACE L.A.’s multidimensional approach focuses on changing narratives, building relationships and advancing public policy solutions. Through a wide-variety of programs and strategies, the initiative is an unprecedented partnership between government, organizations and residents.

For more information, including how to submit, please visit



Genre: These awards are for live-action short narrative films.

Length: Submitted screenplays must be 25 pages or less and completed projects should be no more than 30 minutes (including film credits)


The thread of the story must focus on the Black Experience in the United States, told through the lens of its Black characters.

The story should also incorporate the theme of illustrating, challenging and/or changing social inequities with topics that may include, but are not limited to race; social, educational, environmental and/or economic justice; mass incarceration and the criminal justice system; police brutality; LGBTQ rights; gentrification; homelessness; immigration; civil rights/human rights; workers’ rights; and gender discrimination.

Who Can Apply:

Screenwriters, Directors and Producers who self-identify as Black and own or have rights for the copyright on the submitted screenplay.

Creative Team:

All of the credited Screenwriter(s), Director(s), and Producer(s) on the submitted project must self-identify as Black.

Additionally, the applicant must be a resident of Los Angeles. All other members of the creative team (e.g., Executive Producer(s), Associate Producer(s), & Crew) can self-identify as any race/ethnicity and can reside anywhere in the world.

Prior Experience:

Screenwriter, Director OR Producer of the submitted project must have completed and been credited as either a writer, director or producer on a previous project (short or feature of any genre and subject, web series, TV , etc.). A sample of previous work (Vimeo link) is required on the application.

Brief Timeline:

Screenplay submissions period is open December 26, 2023 at 12:00am PST. Submissions close February 19, 2024 at 11:59pm PST.

Principal photography must occur between May 2024 and July 2024. Completed films must be delivered to PAFF by December 1, 2024.

Other Requirements:

The credited Screenwriter, Director, and Producer of each winning project must be able to attend a one (1) day Filmmaker Summit in Los Angeles to be held April 2024. Exact date TBD.

Please be advised that attendance at the Filmmaker Summit is mandatory and travel and housing accommodations will not be provided.

Submission Fee: $50.00:

Each submission requires a $50.00 submission fee.


About the Pan African Film & Arts Festival

Taking place February 6-19, 2024, in Los Angeles, the Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) presents and showcases a broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes of Africans and African-Americans. Since 1992, PAFF has remained dedicated to the promotion of Black stories and images through the exhibition of film, visual art, and other creative expression. Today, PAFF is one of the largest and most prestigious Black film festivals in the U.S. and attracts local, national, and international audiences. In addition, it is an Oscar-qualifying festival for animation and live-action films, and one of the largest Black History Month events in America.

PAFF is sponsored in part by the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell through the Department of Arts and Culture, LA Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, LA Councilmember Curren Price, LA Councilmember Heather Hutt, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, LA Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund with the California Community Foundation, and the LA County COVID-19 Arts Relief Fund administered by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture.

The Pan African Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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