January 30, 2014

Shonassee Shaver

LAWT Contributing Writer


The Pan African Film Festival readies for its 22nd anniversary of prestigious and global Black cinema on February 6-17 at the Rave Cinemas 15 Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, they have chosen the award-winning rapper, singer-songwriter and actress, Niatia “Lil Mama” Kirkland to host of the Film Festival.

She was nominated to emcee the festival’s Spoken Word Fest “Music in the Rhymes,” that will feature some of the best poets and spoken word artists from around the country, showcasing their best spits and rhymes during the festival on Sunday, February 9 at 7 p.m., located at the Bridge in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles.

Lil Mama who has been praised for her riveting and authentic portrayal of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in VH1’s biopic “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” which chronicles the music career of one of the best R&B girls group of all time. The film’s esteem and prevalence garnered two NAACP nominations for “Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special.

The “Lip Gloss” rapper gave a notable performance in the film and was invited by T-Boz and Chili to perform with them at the 2013 American Music Awards.

A roster of veteran actors will join Lil Mama at the PAFF this year.   

PAFF has selected a total of 179 films, representing 46 countries that consists of 41 feature-length documentaries, 23 short documentaries, 56 narrative features, and 59 narrative shorts as well as 11 webseries in the new category of New Media.

The celebrity judges for the Pan African Film Festival includes:

NAACP nominee Vanessa Bell Calloway is known for her roles in films “Coming to America,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Biker Boyz,” “The Brothers,” and “The Temptations.” Look for Calloway in three indie flicks on DVD, “The Last Fall,” “The Under Shepherd” and “The Obama Effect.” Don’t miss her on Showtime’s TV series “Shameless,” as Carol Fisher. She will sit on the panel along with her contemporaries.

Actor Michael DeLorenzo who hails from Bronx, New York will be a celebrity judge at this year’s PAFF. His list of credits includes Dick Wolf’s urban drama “New York Undercover,” CSI: Miami,” “CSI: New York,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Resurrection Blvd.”

Fellow New Yorker Erica Gimpel will be judging at the PAFF, she is a veteran actress as well as a singer and songwriter who got her start on television series, “Fame” as Coco Hernandez .Gimpel’s talent garnered her roles on “True Blood,” “Criminal Minds,” “Grey’s Anatomy,’ “Nikita,” “Rissoli & Isles” and “Veronica Mars.” You can see her in “Romeo and Juliet in Harlem,” opposite Harry Lennix and Aunjanue Ellis, directed by Aleta Chappell.

Before landing her role on Showtime’s TV drama “Soul Food” as Maxine Chadway, Vanessa Williams appeared on “The Cosby Show” and “Melrose Place” as Rhonda Blair. The NAACP Image winner will be a judge on the PAFF’s panel. 

Award-winning actress and singer Dawnn Lewis is remembered for her as Jelessa Vinson from “A Different World,” and as Robin Dumars on “Hanging with Mr. Cooper.” Her list of credits include “CSI: Miami,” “The Jamie Foxx Show” and “Girlfriends.” Lewis plays “Dr. Knapp” on daytime series “Days of Our Lives.” With a Grammy, ASCAP and BMI under her belt, Lewis will be a celebrity guest to judge at the PAFF.

Known for her character roles, Nicki Micheaux will use her cinematic experience to judge this year’s PAFF. Micheaux is best known for strong and loving role as Jennifer “Jenn” Sutton on ABC Family series, “Lincoln Heights.”  You can see her in the feature film, “The Trials Of Cate McCall,” opposite Kate Beckinsale. 

Other celebrity jurors are model and actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, “Zane’s the Jump Off” Tanjareen Martin, “Southland” Dorian Missick who will appear on upcoming episode of “Being Mary Jane.”

Covering the webseries category at the Pan African Film Festival is award-winning writer, director and producer Issa Rae. Her claim to fame webseries “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” cataphote her to success, Rae made the Forbes 30 Under 30 Entertainment List and won the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show. She is developing a new television show, called “I Hate LA Dudes,” with Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy, “Scandal,” “Private Practice”) for ABC and a half-hour comedy for HBO with Emmy-winning writer/producer Larry Wilmore.

Category: Arts & Culture

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