LOS ANGELES – The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) taps the lovely-and-talented actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield to serve as its 2013 celebrity host for its 21st annual film festival. PAFF is set to take place at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. It will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at at the headquarters of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), located at 7920 W. Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. (Please note change in venue.)
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Whitfield is a veteran actress of television and film. She’s also a festival favorite who’s delighted audiences with her stirring portrayal of Maye in the critically-acclaimed film, “I Will Follow,” the directorial debut of award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Last year, she appeared in the cutting-edge, hip hop-infused teen flick, “We the Party,” directed by Mario Van Peebles. Interestingly, Whitfield got her big acting break in “Posse,” directed by Peebles, and starring opposite Billy Zane and Blair Underwood.
Appearing in more than 20 films, Whitfield has worked along side some of the industry’s leading men, including award-winning actors Denzel Washington in “Antwone Fisher,” and Will Smith in “I Am Legend,” as well as Laurence Fishburne in “Biker Boyz” and Keenan Ivory Wayans in “A Low Down Dirty Shame.” Other film credits include “Black Dynamite” and “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” – just to name a few.
She also made her directorial debut with “Grace,” a short, which made the rounds at numerous film festivals in 2011 and 2012.
On television, Whitfield recently wrapped shooting a starring role in the Lifetime pilot, “The Secret Lives of Wives.” She also stars in the film, “Pastor Brown,’ which is set to premiere on Lifetime in February, as part of its Black History Month offerings. Audiences know and love Whitfield as the character, Dr. Blake, on Syfy’s hit show, “Eureka.” In 2011, she received an NAACP Image Award nomination for “Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series” for her work on the show. Other television credits include “Criminal Minds,” “Bones,” “House” and “CSI: Miami.”
“The Pan African Film Festival applauds the fine work of Salli Richardson-Whitfield,” said Ayuko Babu, founder and executive director of PAFF. “She’s a combination of beauty and brains – that is, a seasoned actress who’s chosen smart roles to gracefully elevate, and not compromise the image of African American women in film and television. Through her craft, she is an amazing storyteller, and the film festival is excited to have her as a celebrity host.”
The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is an official event of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa's Celebration of African American Heritage Month. PAFF is sponsored by Macy's; Wells Fargo Bank; CareMore; Union Bank; General Motors; Water Replenishment District of Southern California; Sony Pictures; South African Airways; the National Film and Video Foundation; One Village; Addco Party Rentals; TestFlick, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; as well as Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District) and Los Angeles City Council members Bernard C. Parks (District 8), Jan Perry (District 9), and Herb J. Wesson Jr. (District 10).
IN OTHER NEWS | PAFF SNAGS AAFCA SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) will receive the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA). The festival will be recognized for its contribution to cinematic arts. PAFF will be presented with this award during the AAFCA’s private awards ceremony on Friday, February 8, 2013 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, Calif.
This year, the AAFCA named “Zero Dark Thirty,” directed by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow as its Best Film of 2012. Based in Los Angeles, the AAFCA is the premiere organization of African American film media professionals. Founded in 2003, AAFCA’s members represent a geographically diverse cross-section of media covering the cinematic arts. The organization honors excellence in cinema by creating awareness for films with universal appeal to black communities, while emphasizing film about the black experience and those produced written, directed and starring performers of African descent. The association actively reviews the quality and standard of black talent, content and media coverage. AAFCA also supports the development of future black film critics and filmmakers. AAFCA is based in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.AAFCA.com
ABOUT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL
Gearing up for its 21st anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), is America's largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.
PAFF was founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), 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. PAFF is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art and creative expression.
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 more information, please visit www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.