Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Interview: Ayuko Babu and the Pan African Film and Arts Festival

Daood interviews Ayuko Babu, film festival director for the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. Read on for great insights about this annual film/arts festival and this year's events.

Daood: As president of PAFF and this year being the 16th annual event, [who are] the co-stars of this organization [that] have been essential to the longevity and success of this vision?

Mr. Babu: The people who were the co-founders of the festival and essential to the longevity of the festival [are] Danny Glover (actor), Janet DuBois (actress), Asantewa Olatunji, Esq. (General Manager/Director of Programming of the Festival, [and] Miki Goral (Director of Research).

Daood: Philosophically, how significant is film as an art-form?

Mr. Babu: Film, is the key art form for the 20th and 21st century. The reason for this is that all other art forms fold into it. And also film has mass appeal where it influences millions and millions of people around the world.

Daood: Since the onset of PAFF to the present the films underscore certain esthetic themes regardless of subject matter. What is the selection process for those films chosen to be apart of the PAFF?

Mr. Babu: The criteria for the selection of films entered in PAFF is 1) Does the film speak to us and our people?; if it attempts to explain us to other people PAFF is not interested; 2) Does the film tell a good story?; and 3) Is the film entertaining?

Daood: Your experience with the Republic of Guinea film industry is unique and I'm sure the audience would enjoy reading about it. Would you say that memorable epoch perhaps gave ground for the PAFF?

Mr. Babu: The idea for the Pan African Film Festival came from Mr. Gilbert Minot, who was the Director General of Silly-Cinema. Silly-Cinema was the governmental arm in charge of all film productions, theatres for exhibition films and he also was the person that convinced Kwame Toure (Stokley Carmichael) and Miriam Makeba (African singing superstar) to move to Guinea.

Daood: Tell us about the relationship that you have with the third largest film industry in the world Nigeria?

Mr. Babu: I have been invited several times to be a Juror at the African Academy Awards, which is held annually in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. I also have extensive and formal ties with various entities in the Nigerian Film Industry.

Daood: Have there been any films spoken of with great adulation, creating a buzz with anticipation thus far?

Mr. Babu: Yes, Return to Goree (Senegal), Namibia – the Struggle for Liberation (Namibia), and the Yacoubian Building (Eqypt).

Daood: Last year Saturday February 17th was the 51st anniversary of Ghana's Independence. How did the PAFF celebrate this special occasion?

Mr. Babu: We acknowledged Ghana’s independence by showcasing a film from Ghana entitled A Goat’s Tale and hosted a reception for the Ghanaian Community.

Daood: In addition to the films, there are events such as Spoken-Word Fest, Stand-Up Comedy and a PAFF Fashion Show. Can you elaborate upon them?

Mr. Babu: Spoken Word is a poetry showcase that sells out every year, hosted by Shihan, one of the members of the Deaf Poetry Jam family (Friday, February 8th at 9pm and Friday, February 15th @ 9pm). Stand Up Comedy, this year’s PAFF comedy night will be hosted by J. Anthony Brown on Sunday, February 10th at 7:30pm at the Spot Comedy Club. In addition, Alex Thomas will host a Comedy Night at Comedy Union. And this year the Fashion Show will take place Sunday, February 17th from 2-4 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. This year’s theme is Wearable Art on the Move.

Daood: With the multitude of films that you seen, have you ever got the notion to write a script, direct a film or act?

Mr. Babu: All the time, but I just can't find the time to do it. Being a Film Festival Director is a full-time job.

Daood: At this time I know you're extremely busy and I would like to extend my gratitude for this interview.

Mr. Babu: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak about the Festival. And I would like to say to the readership that if you are tired of the "Soul Planes" of the world, come out and see what we screen at the festival. And then go next door to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and see all the wonderful fine arts and unique crafts and beautiful designed clothes.

For more information about the Pan African Film Festival, visit ExperienceLA.com.

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