The 28th annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) will open with the film “HERO: Inspired by the Extraordinary Revolutionary Life and Times of Diplomat and Judge Ulric Cross,” directed by Caribbean filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon.
The festival will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at the Directors Guild of America (DGA), located at 7920 W. Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. This year’s theme is “20/20 Vision,” kicking off the decade with a fresh lens and solidifying its commitment to tell diverse stories with a global, luminous view.
“HERO” is inspired by the extraordinary revolutionary life and times of Trinidad and Tobago diplomat and Judge Ulric Cross, the most decorated West Indian of World War II. He was a member of the highly-decorated group of Caribbean pilots who flew combat missions for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) in World War II. This Caribbean group was the equivalent of the Tuskegee Airmen – that is, African American military pilots who flew combat missions for the U.S. Air Force in World War II. After his service, Cross went on to play an active and important role in the Pan African Movement, which led to the creation of the 28 modern Caribbean and 54 modern African nations. This Pan African Movement influenced U.S. domestic policy towards African Americans and inspired the Civil Rights movement. It also inspired Black Power movements in the Americas as well as the rise of Black consciousness that swept around the world and resonates to this day.
Helmed by a female director, Solomon leads a pack of women screening films at PAFF in record numbers. “As a woman of color in this ferocious industry, I have had to work relentlessly to circumvent the barriers that stood in my way,” said Solomon. “As a proud new member of the Academy, I believe our time has come, and the world now will reap the magic that we have sown over the past years. The 2020s will be amazing for all our voices.”
“HERO” also boasts an all-star international cast that includes Trinidad and Tobago’s Nicolai Salcedo, in the lead role of Ulric Cross, along with UK stars Joseph Marcell (“Fresh Prince of Bel Air”), Fraser James (“Resident Evil”), Pippa Nixon (“John Carter”), Canada’s Peter Williams (“Stargate SG1”), and Ghanaian superstars John Dumelo, Adjetey Anang and Prince David Oseia.
“We are very excited to screen “Hero” and share the triumphs and victories of Judge Ulric Cross and his Pan African brothers, which led to the creation of our modern world. It is truly an honor for me personally, as well as the Pan African Film Festival, to present and create awareness about this great, important, enriching and entertaining story,” said Ayuko Babu, executive director of PAFF. The opening night festivities will feature a Trinidad and Tobago live steel drum band and Caribbean cuisine!
PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation with approximately 150 Black films and 100 fine artists from around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live action and animation short films. The festival will be held from February 11 – 23, 2020 at the Cinemark 15 Theatres, located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. (The theatre is situated on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard.)