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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 09: A general view during the Q&A from the Pan African Film Festival-"Behind The Movement" Screening at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on February 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

The 30th Pan African Film Festival Is Calling For Entries

Africa-centred films and African filmmakers are invited to submit their entries for the 2022 Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), which takes place annually in Los Angeles.

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) has opened submissions for its 30th anniversary. Returning from an explosive season after headlining with Black Panther founder Gregory Everett's documentary, PAFF invites filmmakers whose work focuses on the narratives of Africans in Africa, and the diaspora, to submit their film entries. The annual PAFF is Los Angeles' most prestigious Black film festival and features a wide catalogue of films from around the world. The 30th edition of PAFF is set to take place from February 8 to 21, 2022 in Los Angeles, and virtually for the rest of the world.

Read: Pan African Film Festival Set to Screen Black Panther Documentary

PAFF will be accepting submissions for films and videos made on, or about, people of African descent — though the filmmakers need not necessarily be of African descent. The festival has a preference for progressive films that depict positive and realistic images of Africans from any genre — drama, comedy, horror, action/adventure, animation, romance, science fiction, experimental and historical. Black narratives captured through short films and documentaries are welcome too.

Prolific South African screenwriter and playwright Amy Jephta's BARAKAT, a dramedy about an Afrikaans Muslim household featured in this year's 29th PAFF line-up. The film starred famous South African actresses Bonnie Mbuli and Quanita Adams. BARAKAT was one of 200 films screening at the virtual festival hosted in Los Angeles in February 2020.

PAFF was founded by award-winning actor Danny Glover, Emmy Award-winning actress and executive director Ja'net DuBois as well as Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specialises in African affairs. A highly anticipated event in Los Angeles circles, PAFF has previously hosted live festivals that attracted a crowd of more than 40,000 people. Marvel's Black Panther blockbuster screened during the 26th PAFF in 2018 where South African films Catching Feelings and political drama Kalushi, both starring Pearl Thusi, were showing.

The festival's competition categories include: Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary (Short or Feature), Best Director — First Feature, Best Web Series, plus a variety of Audience Favorite Awards.

For more on PAFF 2022 submission — instructions, information, fees, and registration — visit or email Submissions opened on June 1 and will remain so, with special extensions, until December 1, 2021.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Idris Elba Wants to Build a Film Studio In Tanzania

Renowned British actor Idris Elba is planning to open up a film studio in Tanzania, reports say.

Celebrated British actor Idris Elba is planning to open a film studio in Tanzania. The news was revealed by Tanzania's Director of Presidential Communications, Zuhura Yunus, during a press conference. According to Yunus, the plan for the studio was set in motion during Elba's meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Discussions on the project have just begun, and if successful, the project will help not only Tanzania but also Eastern and Central Africa,” said Yunus.

In the past, Elba, who is also an award-winning actor, filmmaker and musician, has made concerted efforts to be involved in, and contribute to the African entertainment industry. In the past, he has featured on songs with prominent African artists like D'banj, Drizilik, and Phyno, among others. Although he is a celebrated Hollywood actor, Elba has always stayed connected to the motherland and has made several efforts to represent his own Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian roots.

In an interview with South Africa's SA People News in 2022, the British movie star mentioned that he wants to shoot more films in Africa, as well as contribute in building and developing the future of the African film industry.

“Young Africans view me as a leader or a beacon. And I feel like I could bring something. So I’m keen to bring what I’ve learned in media and amplify it in Africa,” the Beast actor said at the time.

During the interview, the actor also mentioned that the continent deserved "real tender care."

“I’m really keen on the development of Africa. My parents come from Africa and more than anywhere in the world, I feel like that continent deserves some real tender care and love and thought.

Elba has historically represented Africa in powerful rooms that he has walked into

During the US-Africa Leaders Summit’s; Africa Digital Innovation Competitors event, he did not hesitate to place the importance of the African entertainment market at the forefront of his conversation.

“If there are any investors listening or watching today if you do not consider Africa as a viable investment, you’re not considering yourself or your future. Africa’s future is your own future and vice versa,” said Elba at the time.“We do not need aid anymore, we need innovation. We need partnership,” he added.

While there are no new updates on the move to build the studio in Tanzania, it seems as though the process is underway.

Photo: Big World

These Are the African Films That Missed Out on a 2023 Oscar Nomination

This week the Academy Awards announced which countries made the shortlist for the Best International Picture category at next year's ceremony.

This year, films from 92 countries were submitted for Oscar consideration, and the Academy selected 15 to move onto a possible nomination. The Blue Caftan from Morocco's Maryam Touzani is the only film from the continent that was selected. This is despite Tunisia's Under The Fig Trees also earning major praise and acclaim.

The Blue Caftan made its premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it picked up the Fipresci prize (awarded by international film critics) for its "bravery" in shedding light on a taboo topic in Moroccan society. The film, which is the second submission by Touzani to the Oscars, is about a woman and her closeted gay husband who run a caftan shop in Sale.

Africans would also do well to rally behind Alice Diop, even though her Saint Omer was submitted as France's entry because the French Senegalese director has made a film that speaks to the immigrant experience, and is considered a favorite from this past year.

Over the past few years, Africa’s place within the Oscars has left many film lovers wanting. Although critically acclaimed features like The Gravedigger’s Wife, made by Somalian director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, and Lingui, The Sacred Bonds, from Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun were submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, not a single African film made it to the shortlist of the Best International Feature category for the ceremony in March this year. Even with countries like Tunisia continuing to make history -- as it did with its first-ever Oscar nomination in 2021 -- the last time an African film won the category, which used to be known as Best Foreign Language Film, was in 2005, when South Africa’s Tsotsi took home the prize.

While international films are eligible for other categories and do sometimes win (witness South Korea's Parasite taking home Best Picture in 2020), the Best International Feature Film category is often the only spotlight for films produced in countries outside of the U.S., and outside of the English language. It remains a fact that in 90 years of the Oscar awards, only three films from Africa have ever won the category.

Still, African countries continue to add their contributions to the list, despite a number of them facing infrastructure and distribution issues, or, in the case of Nigeria, language issues. In 2019, there was a loud outcry when the country's submission, Lionheart, was disqualified because it was mostly in English. This year, again, Nigeria's entry -- or lack of entry -- has stirred up controversy.

To be considered for the Best International Picture category, films need to satisfy eligibility conditions, chief being that more than half the film must be in a language other than English, and the film must have a theatrical run of seven days. With the lingering impact of COVID, the Academy is allowing films that had planned to have a theatrical release but were made available via a streaming or on-demand service to still qualify for consideration.

The Oscar nominations revealed on January 24th 2023, adn the awards ceremony takes place on March 12th 2023.

Here are the African entries that hoped to earn a spot on the shortlist:

Algeria: 'Our Brothers' by Rachid Bouchareb

Algeria’s storied history with the Oscars goes back to 1969, when the country’s first ever film submitted for Oscar consideration, Costa GavrasZ, won the award. Algeria has since made 21 submissions, but it has yet to replicate the 1969 win. Director Rachid Bouchareb has been a regular among the submissions made – for 1995’s Dust Of Life, 2006’s Days Of Glory, and 2010’s Outside The Law. This year, the Algerian Film Selection Committee voted for Our Brothers, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and is based upon the true story of a French student of Algerian descent, Malik Oussekine, who was killed by police following student demonstrations in 1986.

Kenya: 'Terastorm' by Andrew Kaggia

The Kenya Film Commission announced that out of the 4 films it was considering, a selection team of 9 members landed on Terastorm, which is billed as an “African superhero film.” Not much is known about it, except that it’s an animation, made by a digital company called Afrikana Digital, and was released in July this year. As the country continues to crack down on any content with LGBTQ+ themes, it's evident it doesn't want to rock the boat with anything that has more of a substantial message to relay.

Senegal: Xalé by Moussa Sene Absa

Senegalese director Moussa Sene Absa brings to life a story that touches on themes of familial love, loyalty, and the diaspora in a film that's been described as "visually stunning and emotionally resonant," which is likely why the national selection committee chose it. Senegal has successfully been nominated in the category before

Tanzania: 'Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute)' by Amil Shivji

Amil Shivji made history last year at the Toronto Film Festival with Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute), the first Tanzanian film to be chosen to play at the Toronto International Film Festival. Shiva’s second feature – a heartfelt colonial era-set romantic drama – is also the second time Tanzania has submitted a film to the Oscars. Some more history trivia? It’s also the first time in over 20 years that Tanzania has submitted a film to the Academy for a nomination consideration.

Tunisia: 'Under The Fig Trees' by Erige Sehiri

Tunisia got into the Oscars game last year when Kaouther Ben Hania’s The Man Who Sold His Skin, scored the country’s first-ever international feature nomination. Tunisian-French director Erife Sehiri hopes to follow that with her fictional feature film, Under The Fig Trees, set in an orchard, which drew acclaimed applause at Cannes earlier this year.

Uganda: 'Tembele' by Morris Mugisha

From Big Brother Africa to the big stage of world cinema, Morris Mugisha is a former housemate who turned to directing in more recent years. He’s made headlines beyond reality TV with Tembele, which has become the country’s first submission to the Oscars. The drama follows a man who works on a garbage truck, battling a mental setback after losing a son. Mugisha wrote and produced the film, as well as directed it.

* Story updated to reflect the shortlist announcement

Photo By Adedamola Odetara for OkayAfrica

Photo Series: Vic Mensa's Pilgrimage to Ghana

OkayAfrica traveled with Vic Mensa as he visited his father's childhood home, Koforidua. Here's a behind-the-scenes look about what happened.

Back in December, American rapper Vic Mensa went on a pilgrimage back home. The rapper was in Accra, Ghana for his historic Black Star Line Festival, which he was co-hosting with longtime friend and fellow rapper Chance the Rapper.

But, on a hot day before the festival, the rapper traveled two hours from Accra to Koforidua to visit his extended family. There is a lot of history in Koforidua. Highlife trailblazer Chief Kofi Sammy grew up there. Not only was he founder of the famous Okukuseku International Band but Sammy also had a long and fruitful relationship with Afrobeat legend Fula Kuti.

He also happens to be Vic Mensa's uncle. And part of the reason Vic took this trip is to convince Sammy to join him on stage at the Black Star Line Festival in Accra, in front of 50,000 fans. However, while there, Vic made sure he had time to connect with his extended family.

It was a special, intimate moment. One OkayAfrica was lucky enough to witness firsthand. Check out our photo gallery of Vic Mensa's pilgrimage below.

Photo By Adedamola Odetara for OkayAfrica

In December 2022, Vic Mensa took a trip to visit his uncle, legendary Highlife artist Chief Kofi Sammy. It’s about a two hour drive from Accra to Koforidua. A bit longer when you factor in Vic stopping for some of his favorite snacks.

Photo: Etan Comics

Ethiopia’s First Superhero Comic is Going Global

Etan Comics is launching a kids version of the kickstarter-backed title, which will be published in 11 languages.

After the successful release of their graphic novel, Jember, Etan Comics is teaming up with the non-profit Open Hearts Big Dreams (OHBD) to launch a special collaboration. Etan is working with the Seattle-based organization, which has produced over 700 bilingual early-reader titles, to turn Jember into a bilingual kids book that's based on the award-winning graphic novel.

The release of the book coincides with Black History Month, and will be launched in 11 different languages, including Amharic, Arabic, French, Greek, Igbo, Kiswahili, Spanish, and Wolayta. Jember was first published in hardcover format in October 2022, and after its release it garnered +$12K pre-orders on Kickstarter. The comic book is designed to help emerging readers build their reading confidence, and learn more about African cultures and languages. Created and written by Beserat Debebe, it was illustrated by Yonatan Solomon and Michael Okoroagha.

Jember is being turned into a bilingual kids book that's based on the award-winning graphic novel and will be available in 11 different languages.

Photo: Etan Comics

Beginning in mid-February, the books will be available globally on Amazon and IngramSpark. They will also be available at Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble, and in public libraries shortly after.

With the release of Jember, Etan Comics aims to make African stories accessible to global readers. The collaboration will also help Ethiopian children, who make up 40% of the Ethiopian population, to be empowered through the story, which speaks to the rich cultural heritage of the Ethiopian history.

With this development, Etan Comics has joined the growing list of new generation of African comic book creators who are sharing African culture through comics to engage readers with various parts of the continent's history.

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