The Pan African Film & Arts Festival’s (PAFF) 30th edition concluded on Sunday, May 1st.  Held both in person at the Cinemark Baldwin Hills 15 and XD and online, PAFF announced its 2022 juried film award winners during their annual Awards Brunch in Los Angeles on Monday, May 2nd.  Three groups determined the winners: 1) an external panel of judges, 2) the PAFF Programmers, and 3) the audience.  PAFF took place in Los Angeles from April 30-May 1, 2022. 

“This year’s film roster reflects the times we are in,” said PAFF General Manager Asantewe Olatunji. “Many focus on social justice issues such as gender equality, police and community relations, and the changing lifestyle norms. Of course, several of the PAFF 2022 films focus on our well-known and sometimes obscure sheroes and heroes whose stories told by their own people give a new perspective of history and view of our world.”

Olatunji continued, “I predict this is just the beginning of the melting of the system’s iceberg that once limited access and the types of stories that are being told. Not only are these films Black films from the world over, but they are also films being made by Black women and LGBTQ+ filmmakers that authentically reflect their world. These are films by people who never had a seat at the table let alone a voice in the conversation. 

“As programmers, myself and the other PAFF programmers are happy to be a part of this process of helping to shift the paradigm of what stories are told and by whom. To present these stories and provide access for both filmmakers and their audiences is a great privilege.”

The 2022 PAFF featured over 200 films from 55 countries, in 18 languages, including 58 World and 32 North American premieres.  Of the films selected for the Festival, 46% were helmed by female, queer or non-binary filmmakers, and 80% were directed by filmmakers of African descent. 

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Jury Awards

Best Feature Narrative  – Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Chad) – Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun 

Best First Feature Narrative  – Queen of Glory (US) – Directed by Nana Mensah 

Best Feature DocumentaryBuddy Guy: the Blues Chase the Blues Away (US) — Directed by Charles Todd & Devin Amar 

Best First Feature DocumentaryAfrica and I (South Africa) — Directed by Othmane Zolati & Chris Green

Best Short NarrativeSlow Pulse (US) – Directed by Marshall Tyler 

Best Short DocumentaryCuba in Africa (Cuba/US) — Directed by Negash Abdurahman 

Programmers’ Awards

Programmers’ Award: Narrative FeatureAyinla (Nigeria) – Directed by Tunde Kelani

Programmers’ Award: Documentary  – Race Today (UK) — Directed by Wayne G Saunders

Programmers’ Award: Short Narrative2 Eye Drops from Normal (US) — Directed by Mora Carew 

Programmers’ Award: Short Documentary  – For Love & Legacy (US)–Directed by A.K. Sandhu 

Audience Awards

Audience Favorite: Feature NarrativeRemember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story (US) — Directed by Denise Dowse

Audience Favorite: Feature Documentary (tie)The Dream Whisperer (US) – Directed by Eric Drath and Ferguson Rises (US) – Directed by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu 

Audience Favorite: Short Narrative – Contraban (US) – Directed by Chelsea Hicks

Audience Favorite: Short DocumentaryCrawford – The Man the South Forgot (US) – Directed by Carol Devoe

Ja’net Dubois Awards

NarrativeA Brother’s Whisper (US) — Directed by Jacinto Taras Riddick

DocumentaryGrandpa was an Emperor (US/Canada/Ethiopia/France/Germany/Jamaica/UK) — Directed by Constance Marks