Last night was the “Night of Tribute” at the Pan African Film Festival, where the festival teamed up with the African American Film Critics Association to present a star-studded awards ceremony for both organizations at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.
Actress Salli Richardson Whitfield and PAFF founder Ayuko Babu presented awards to honorees including “Father of West Indian Cinema” Christian Lara (pioneer filmmaker award), actress Nicole Beharie (Beah Richards rising star award), Ambassador Filippe Savadogo (visionary award), and actor Omari Hardwick (Canada Lee rising star award).
Beharie reflected on being deeply affected 10 years prior watching Lisa Gay Hamilton’s Beah Richards documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.
Veteran actress Lynn Whitfield was presented with the lifetime achievement award by PAFF co-founder Janet DuBois. Whitfield shared, “I will work hard every day in every way to continue to bring the truth in an entertaining package. All these years have been like a gumbo – you put all the ingredients in the pot, cover it up, turn the fire down, and let it simmer. So what I’m saying is, I’m not done yet.”
For AAFCA, the big winner of the night was Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, which received awards for best actress (Emayatzy Corinealdi), best screenplay, best music (Kathryn Bostic) and best independent film.
Due to the northeast blizzard, DuVernay was unable to make it to the ceremony and actor David Oyelowo, lead actor in the film, accepted on her behalf. Referencing the film’s indie budget, Oyelowo explained, “If you want to make a film for $200,000, write characters that aren’t caricatures or stereotypes, and we will be there. We will take $100 a day.”
An overall theme of the night was the push for more compelling black stories – to make and distribute them by any means necessary. Receiving his award for best supporting actor, activist Nate Parker urged the audience, “We have to push harder and push further. We have to continue to support platforms that recognize us. I encourage you all to write, to read, to study. Because if we don’t tell our stories, someone else will.”
“I pray for more opportunities to continue to make you proud,” – Emayatzy Corinealdi.
AAFCA Top Ten Films of the Year:
1.“Zero Dark Thirty”
4.“Middle of Nowhere”
5.“Life of Pi”
7. “Django Unchained”
8.“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
10.“Think Like a Man”
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