January 31, 2013

By Kenneth Miller

Contributing Writer


Last September Ayuko Babu was at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference sitting in the audience of a panel discussion about African films.

He unquestionably has such an astute resume that would have qualified him to lead the panel, but on this day Babu was just listening and taking notes and in the room of just roughly a dozen was one of the crowd.

As renowned and revered as Babu is, perhaps his greatest human quality is that of humility which is why the 20th annual Pan African Film Festival has earned a reputation of being among the best in the world.

When the festival unfolds from Feb. 9th through Feb. 20th in Baldwin Hills at the Rave Theatres and the Baldwin Hills Mall it will not just be reflective of harnessing a vision that Babu shared with his good friend and accomplished actor Danny Glover and Emmy Award winning actress Ja’Net DuBois, but also one the Crenshaw community can embrace.

“This is a place where people come from across the planet with all of their stories. For Black folks in Los Angeles it is a God sent experience of going around the world in 10 days without having to purchase an airline ticket,” Babu told the Sentinel in an exclusive interview.

He founded the PAFF in 1992 with a goal of elevating the importance of independent filmmaking and establishing a platform for people of color to tell their stories on the big screen.

This year the festival comes on the heels of the highly controversial Oscar nominated film ‘Django Unchained’ that sparked an outpouring debate about slavery and the dreaded N-word.

“Each year is different and an opportunity for voices to come out and tell our stories,” added Babu.

While not specifically referring to ‘Django’, Babu explained that stories of film are always something new, ours are intimate, but the world of creativity is unlimited.

Babu attempts to explore and reveal through the festival  “Our” story from more than 150 films, shorts ad documentaries, reflective of Africans from throughout the continent of Africa and America.

They come from Jamaica, Canada, Soweto, Nigerian, South Africa and more, but that language as depicted in their stories on film is directly from the chorus of the heart, with a trumpeting spirit that captures the soul.

When asked which films were creating the buzz for this year’s festival, Babu said,” It’s hard to say, but there is a documentary about Iceberg Slim produced by Ice T that clarifies the mystery of what he was all about.”

He also pointed to a couple of others such as ‘Home Again’, as a film good for Blacks to see and ‘Otelo Bernie’, a film about South Africa and the liberation of South Africa centered abound an integrated surfing team.

“Until we begin to understand and tell our ancient stories it will be difficult for us to see where we are going,” Babu offered.

The PAFF is a non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring more than 1000 students from local middle schools and high schools to attend the festival.

Each weekend during the festival there will be a children’s festival from 10am-12pm for kids’ ages 4-12 where story telling will take place. It’s free to the public.

A jazz concert will be held at the Baldwin Hills Mall that will also be free, and for those in the film business or who aspire to be in films there will be workshops and opportunities to meet filmmakers, producers and distributors.

 There are also the massive arts that will be available for purchase throughout, paintings, beads, jewelry and the like.

As Babu would say it best, there is just no excuse to miss it…

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 31, 2013



A party or gathering with friends from the past gives you the opportunity to strut your stuff a bit. You’ve made tremendous strides and accomplished much in your life, so be pleased with yourself this week. Pass some of your wisdom along to others. Soul Affirmation: All that I need is within me.


Do not throw a wrench in someone’s else plan and undermine their project to get ahead in what you are trying to do this week.  Be peaceful and seek harmony in the relationships you have in your personal and professional life.  You will go further than you think by helping co-workers and friends. Soul Affirmation: I get because I give.


This week your fortune will delight you in ways that you’ve never experienced before.  Don’t be slow in sharing good fortune with others who helped you achieve what you have.  Fill their coffers as yours are being filled.  A wonderful gift to have is the ability to give to others. Soul Affirmation: The success of others is the investment I make in myself.


This week do not seek the “highest” source of information for your answers. Look towards a humble source for the truth about your vibrations this week.  The ability to learn from any of God’s creation will lead to better answers than finite human knowledge will produce. Soul Affirmation: Truth is revealed in the smallest grain of sand.


This week your strong fortitude will be able to carry you though hurdles that you once perceived as insurmountable.  Don’t begrudge your situation or begrudge others for what they have.  You will become a better person when you overcome any stumbling blocks in your path.  You will look back and count it as a milestone. Soul Affirmation: What life has given me is sufficient to any task.


One of your greatest talents and gifts is the ability to give freely to others. Exercise it this week with a passion. You are very timely when others are in need.  Your capacity to be a stronghold for others is remarkable.  The power of giving will always supersede the feelings of neediness. Soul Affirmation: Being there for others is a way of being there for myself.


Living in the past has been one of your favorite things, do it this week. Memory will give you clues to the answer to a pressing problem. Ask for help in finishing up the week’s work. Be diplomatic and you’ll get all the help you need. Pretending to be a little bit helpless can work to your favor. Soul Affirmation: My needs will be met if I just ask.


There is a fresh discovery about yourself that you can make this week by taking a poll of friends.  They are especially aware of your real self. It shines through on the surface of your life. Ask others what they see and listen well. Situate yourself so you’ll be ready for it. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy the love that others have for me.


It is amazing how a restless soul like you can button down when you have to. This week is the kind of week when obligations must be met. The best way to get it done is to think about it with only half your mind. Let the other half roam around restlessly like you like your mind to do. Soul Affirmation: This week silence speaks loudest and truest.


You’ve done a lot of things in life that no one has agreed with at the beginning. Finding agreement this week will be difficult, but it should not deter you from moving forward. Feeling sorry for your loneliness will discolor what you are doing. Be happy that you are alone. Soul Affirmation: I accept fate and see good in it.


You should know by now that trying to be in two places at once is very taxing to your nerves! Slow down a bit and trust that you’ll get what needs to be done accomplished. Give yourself a head start on all road trips so that you have time to enjoy the view. Soul Affirmation: Seeing my past clearly this week gives me a clear vision of my future.


An afterglow surrounds you during the week, and you may not feel like getting immediately into work-mode this week. It’s okay to go with your feelings; the world will wait for a little while. Treasure happy moments. Soul Affirmation: Facing down challenges makes me feel good about myself.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 31, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Rihanna says if dating Chris Brown is mistake, she’s OK with that.

The singer tells Rolling Stone in an interview that dating Brown makes her happy and “if it's a mistake, it’s my mistake.” She adds that she’s ready to go public with her singer-boyfriend.

Four years ago, Brown attacked Rihanna and was charged with a felony. But rumors about their relationship emerged after the singers collaborated on songs and appeared in photos together.

Rihanna says she knows that her history with 23-year-old Brown is “not the cutest puzzle in the world.” The 24-year-old also vows that Brown is “disgusted” by what he did in the past. She says the two have matured and they “know exactly what we have now, and we don’t want to lose that.”

The magazine’s new issue hits newsstands Friday.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 31, 2013


Associated Press


Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, frontman for the hit-making funk music band the Ohio Players, has died. He was 69.

The Ohio Players, known for their brassy dance music, catchy lyrics and flamboyant outfits, topped music charts in the 1970s with hits such as “Love Rollercoaster,” “Fire,” “Skin Tight” and “Funky Worm.”

A spokeswoman for a Newcomer Funeral Home in the Dayton suburb of Kettering said Monday morning that the family hadn’t scheduled any public services. There was also a posting about his death on his current band’s Facebook page. No other information was released immediately about his death Saturday.

Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Bonner teamed up in the 1960s with core members of a group called the Ohio Untouchables to form the Ohio Players. The band had a string of Top 40 hits in the mid-1970s and continued to perform for years after that. He had remained active in recent years with a spinoff band called Sugarfoot’s Ohio Players.

“Humble yet charismatic, soft-spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics and music has influenced countless other artists, songs and trends,” stated a posting attributed as an “official family announcement” on the Facebook page of Sugarfoot's Ohio Players. “He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on.”

Marshall Jones, the bass player and a founding member of the Ohio Players, called his bandmates “a bunch of the most creative people — especially Sugarfoot — that I have ever been around.”

“It’s kind of crazy,” Jones, 72, told The Associated Press of Bonner’s death. “I’m still feeling fragile.”

Jones said after years of playing music, the band’s sudden stardom, with No. 1 singles and huge crowds in venues such as the Superdome in New Orleans, was stunning.

“I sit back now, and it was all a brilliant blaze,” he said. “I think ‘Damn, did I do that?’ It was just ‘Zoom!’ That was a starburst. And like all things like that, it fizzles.”

Jones said he, Bonner and other band members were delighted and flattered when “Love Rollercoaster” gained new fans through a 1990s cover by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Bonner had said he learned about music in Hamilton, where he was the oldest of a large family, playing harmonica, learning guitar and sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play with adult musicians. He said he ran away from his home some 20 miles north of Cincinnati at age 14, and told the Hamilton Journal News in 2009 that he had only gone back there once. He explained he had bad memories of growing up poor.

He wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the players who would form the band. Their lineup changed at times, but featured horns, bass, guitar, drums and keyboards.

“We were players. We weren’t trying to be lead singers, but we became one of the first crossover singing bands,” Bonner told the Dayton Daily News in a 2003 interview. He said he initially played with his back to the audience, because he didn’t want to get distracted.

While the band used sexual innuendo, Bonner said he didn’t relate to some of the explicit lyrics and attitudes of later pop music and rap.

“There is nothing but the old school and the new fools,” he said. “It’s a shame the way these artists are preaching badness to a drum beat.”e hit-making funk music band the Ohio Players, died Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 in southwest Ohio. He was 69.  AP Photo

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 31, 2013

By Kimberly C. Roberts

Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune


His early films “Menace II Society” and “Dead Presidents,” directed in tandem with his twin brother Albert, helped to establish the careers of Larenz Tate, Terrence Howard, Jada Pinkett Smith and Chris Tucker. Now Allen Hughes is at the helm of the crime drama “Broken City,” featuring a cast that includes heavyweights Mark Wahl­berg and Jeffrey Wright as well as Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

While the scene has since changed from the gritty street business of the ‘hood to the cerebral shakedowns of upper level politics, Hughes is equally adept at exposing the criminal psyche, whether the perpetrator is wearing saggy jeans or an Armani suit.

While in Philadelphia with Wahl­berg to promote “Broken City,” his first feature film since “The Book of Eli” in 2010, Hughes talked about how the smart and timely screenplay by Hollywood novice Brian Tucker came to his attention.

“It was on the Black List, which is the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood — the caviar of scripts,” the exotic and animated Hughes said during a lively roundtable discussion at the Rittenhouse Hotel. “My agent sent me three scripts, and your agent — you can always tell when they really like something. They go, ‘Hey, read these things (whispering, ‘Check this one out’).’ My agent did that a few times, but with the computers now I have a hard time reading when they send them, so actually I threw ‘Broken City’ in the trash two times.

“There’s something about human beings — artists or whatever — you never know what they’re going through when they get something, and whatever I was going through, I read the first page and I was like, ‘I don’t understand this sh*t!’ Then something happened where I remembered the narrative and I was in a good place and I said, ‘Oh. It’s got a great heavy, it’s got a great lead, a great heroic redemption story there.’ Thank God, now you can drag it out of the trash. So I drug it out of the trash and I read the first 20 [pages] and I was like, ‘Oh sh*t! How did I miss this?’

Once a talented teen trying to make it in the film industry with Albert, who is nine minutes older, Hughes felt empathy for the struggling young screenwriter that is rare in Tinseltown.

“I had Brian Tucker meet me at the Palm Restaurant in West Hollywood, and when I read the script initially, it was such a grown man’s script — lions’ dens and power brokers and politics and a lot of scotch and this type of Scotch and that type of Scotch — and I’m like, ‘I can’t wait to meet this 58-year-old white man who’s going to teach me about Scotch and politics!’ ‘cause it’s such a great script,” Hughes said.

So I’m sitting there and then this young kid — looked like he was 19 — Black kid — walks up to me, and I’m like, ‘What is this kid walking up to me for? He must like ‘Menace’ or something.’ He goes, ‘Brian Tucker,’ and I went, ‘Oh. I guess I won’t be learning about Scotch and politics.’

“He was brilliant. He sat down and he was 26 at the time. He wrote [“Broken City”] when he was 24, and he was deflated because he had been through a lot with this script. By the time we got to it, it was a spec script. It was out of the system and he had been kind of abused with the script. So at the end of the meeting I said, ‘I’m going to make your movie, and I’m going to make it next. I promise you.”

While “Broken City,” now in theaters, was a solo project, Hughes remains in close contact with his brother. “He’s halfway across the world doing what he does,” he explained. “He’s in Prague. I just shot a commercial out there. I was out there for three weeks and he cooked me a great pork — I love pork — and he cooked this great meal, and he’s over there like ‘Rain Man’ on his computer. He says, ‘You know what Allen? I can do anything with the push of a button! With the push of a button! Hey! Let me show you somethin’. Come over here.’ And he’s showing me pictures from when we went to Amsterdam 12 years ago. I’m going, ‘Sh*t! You got a picture of me doing that?’

“He cuts a lot. He does these interesting little films and no one gets to see them. That’s all he does. He makes films in a different realm, though.” Even so, the Hughes Brothers have definite plans to collaborate in the future. “For sure! We’re gonna collaborate on everything, I think. It’s just gonna be one captain of each ship,” he said.

Hughes was so impressed with the City of Brotherly Love that filming in Philly could be part of his future. “I would love to!” he said. “I don’t know the project, but this Philly thing is emblematic. It all started here really. It’s emblematic of every city, really. There’s incentives here too. There’s a flavor — there’s an energy here. It reminds me of Detroit in lots of ways — very white and very Black — a very interesting mash-up.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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