This year The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) celebrated its 27th year of curated local and international films. February 18, 2019, PAFF ended the two-week festival on a breezy night, with a bunch of hot talent.
Music and filmmaking go hand in hand, and Monday’s films captured the importance of songs in films and in everyday life. For the early filmgoers, they were able to catch a block of short series, including the film “Hats,” a USC film project directed by Sade Joseph. “Hats,” stars Dante Brown and Sherri Shepherd, and follows a young boy’s decision on what life path to take. As obstacles cloud his judgment, the audience heard Chicago rapper Common on the soundtrack providing more insight of the boy’s world via song. After the screening, Common joined the cast and crew for a Q&A with the young and excited crowd.
Later in the day, another block of African American shorts screened, including “Karma” and “The Love of Musiq.” “Karma,” directed by Miles Stroter spotlights various Chicago residents as they deal with life in the hood. The hip hop music in the film creates the world of the characters and helps transition the audience into the next scene, which varies from comedy to dramatic consequences. Following Karma, was “The Love of Musiq,” directed by Chad Quinn and narrated by Malinda Williams (Soul Food). “The Love of Musiq,” is a unique coming of age story, which follows a young girl in the system whose one constant love is music. The film shows although options may look bleak, music can provide motivation to keep striving.
The closing night film, “Broken Ground,” which is a hybrid of a feature series and mega video, is the directorial debut of rapper/actor Xzibit, and stars James Savage, and a handful of west coast auxiliaries. James Savage performed under the rap moniker Jayo Felony and climbed the charts in the late 1990’s with the hit “Whatcha Gonna Do.” “Broken Ground,” is the semi- autobiographical story of James Savage, a man who went to prison, lost his promising career, and now wants to transform into a better man. Hip hop is evolving and has drastically changed since the ‘90s, however, the songs in the film displayed lyricism and authenticity that often lacks on today’s Billboard charts. The audience was a mix of film lovers and fans that were excited to listen to one of their favorite rappers making a comeback.
In the film Savage expressed how music has always been a part of him even as a child; and would sleep with a radio in his bed. Music can evoke emotions, provide power to those who create it, and give insight to those who listen. During the Q&A portion of the screening, moderated by radio personality Big Boy, audience members expressed to Savage their excitement to embrace his new transition.
Don’t forget to check out the award winners at PAFF.org. Check out more on James Savage at @jamessavagemusic.