Actors, filmmakers and other invited guests converged on the Culver Plaza Theatre in Culver City on Wednesday for the opening of the Pan African Film Festival, which this year features 121 films from 31 nations. Nate Parker ("The Great Debaters") hosted the first screening, "35 and Ticking," a film by radio personality Russ Parr.
Before joining the crowd, Parker said he credited his recent discovery of his Cameroon ancestry as one reason he wished to participate in the festival. "This event celebrates African Americans and African connections," he said.
"I wouldn't miss this for the world," said Julie Dash, whose directing credits include "The Rosa Parks Story." She added, "I'm an avid, passionate filmmaker and fan."
Kiara Jones, who directed the short film "Men or Mice," said, "Everything is digital now so people can watch films on iPhones and laptops. The festival is important because we're still making films that deserve to be projected on a big screen and seen by an audience. The audience reaction is part of the moviegoing experience."
Also among guests were "35 and Ticking" cast members Meagan Good, Luenell, Aaron D. Spears, Kym Whitley, Nicole Ari Parker, Tamala Jones, Kevin Hart, Clifton Powell, Keith Robinson and Dondre Whitfield. The festival continues through Wednesday.
In commemoration of Founders Day at the Assistance League of Southern California, the league's Anne Banning Auxiliary welcomed 120 guests to a lunch Tuesday at ALSC headquarters in Hollywood. On the program: a talk by Sharon Takeda, senior curator at the Costume and Textiles Department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, about evolving body images as seen in the museum's current exhibition, "Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915."
ALSC provides social services for families, seniors and children. The Anne Banning Auxiliary, named for the league's founder, runs Operation School Bell, which helps keep children in school by giving them uniforms, shoes and other clothing and necessities.
Chapter President Andy Goodman, ALSC President Wendy Overmire, luncheon co-chairwomen Karla Ahmanson and Lynn Leipzig and past ALSC Presidents Judy Kloner, Cynthia Ardell, Peggy Hemmings and Sally Hinckley attended.