BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Oyelowo’s ‘The Water Man’ to open 29th annual PAFF

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

The 29th Pan African Film Festival, considered America’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival and largest Black History Month event, opens Feb. 28 with “The Water Man,” a fantasy-adventure film that marks the feature directorial debut of David Oyelowo (“Selma”), who also co-stars with Rosario Dawson, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello, Amiah Miller and Lonnie Chavis.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this edition of the nonprofit festival, founded in 1992 by Danny Glover, the late Ja’Net DuBois and executive director Ayuko Babu, will run through March 14 online and on-demand only.

Among the highlights screened by TASTY CLIPS:

“Red Pill,” written, directed by, and starring the Tony Award-winning Tonya Pinkins, is a timely horrific political thriller in the vein of “Get Out!” She is joined in this creep show sure to get under your skin by her “Fear The Walking Dead” cast mate Rubén Blades, his actress wife Luba Mason, Kathryn Erbe (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent”) and Adesola A. Osakalumi.    

“Executive Order,” directed by one of Brazil’s most acclaimed actors, Lázaro Ramos, boasts an expressive cast including Alfred Enoch (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and singer Seu Jorge in a tale of reparations gone awry set in a dystopian near future Rio de Janeiro.

Gregory Everett’s “41st and Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Black Panthers,” the fest’s 2010 Audience Favorite Documentary, has been called the most in-depth study ever of the murders of L.A. Chapter founder Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins at UCLA. It features exclusive interviews from party leaders Geronimo Ji Jagga, Elaine Brown and Kathleen Cleaver, along with retired L.A. City Councilman and former LAPD Chief Bernard Parks.

“Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story” tells the story of the African-American orphan who grew up to build mansions for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz; in addition to being associated with landmarks such as the Beverly Hills Hotel, the original MCA Headquarters Building and LAX Airport. The documentary is narrated by Courtney B. Vance with appearances by Paulette Washington and Karen Hudson, Williams’ granddaughter.

“Truth to Power: Barbara Lee Speaks for Me” details the commitment to service and accomplishments of the U.S. congresswoman with insights from Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, commentator Van Jones and author Alice Walker.

Chelsea Odufu’s short “Black Lady Goddess” is a clever pilot for a satirical Afro-futuristic series set in the year 2040 that will leave you wanting more. It follows the life of a young activist (appealingly portrayed by Shanna Bess) coming into her own in a time when humans have not only found out that God is a Black woman, but after reparations have been issued in the amount of $455,000 to each person of African descent.

Hot actor Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and The Black Messiah”) wrote and co-stars with Seraphina Beh in the short “Two Single Beds,” a fascinating character study of two London stand-up comedians forced to spend the night together.

This is but a small sampling of the over 150 films and programs offered this year. For more information and tickets, visit www.PAFF.org.

M.I.A. NO MORE: Reclusive musical artist D’Angelo, who hasn’t released an album since 2014’s “Black Messiah” which was a follow-up to 2000’s “Voodoo” with its steamy video hit “How Does It Feel,” is back Feb. 27 to do battle on the popular Verzuz platform.

Only he won’t have a single opponent. Rather he will put his songbook (“Lady,” “Brown Sugar” and more) “up against a group of his “friends” from the stage of New York’s famed Apollo Theatre. Join the live festivities at 5 p.m. on Instagram @VerzuzTV or in HD on @AppleMusic.

THE GATHERING FOR HARRY: A celebration of legendary singer, songwriter, activist and actor Harry Belafonte’s 94th birthday on March 1, will be held as a live virtual party Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. Revelers will include Common, Chuck D, Bernie Sanders, Stacey Abrams, Aloe Blacc, Bryan Stevenson, Alfre Woodard, Rev. Al Sharpton, Tamika D. Mallory and more. RSVP at bit.ly/gfh94.

CLIPPETTES: The Apollo Presents: 30 Years of “House Party” with Kid N’ Play on Feb. 27 featuring the headliners along with Full Force, Lisa Lisa and DJ Wiz and appearances by the film’s A.J. Johnson, Darryl “Chill” Mitchell, writer and director Reginald Hudlin and special guests. Tickets are $15 in advance at apollotheater.org

“Girls Trip” writer Tracy Oliver‘s “Harlem” looks like a winner! The upcoming Amazon comedy following friends from their college days will star Meagan Good, Grace Byers (“Empire”), Tyler Lepley (“P-Valley”), Jasmine Guy and Whoopi Goldberg …

Drummer/composer Terri Lyne Carrington, author/educator Angela Davis and instrumentalist/vocalist Rhiannon Giddens are participants in a live panel discussion on “Jazz & Race” and its historical context from the music’s inception to the present day on Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. It is free with registration at sfjazz.org

Later in the day, Jamaica’s Reggae Month 2021 will close when Beres Hammond, his band and special guests take the stage for a concert live streamed via the star’s Facebook page, youtube.com/vprecords, and other social media platforms (#reggaemonth2021) … 

The Coda Collection, a music-centric multi-media company, launched a new subscription streaming service via Amazon Prime featuring an exclusive, curated selection of concert films like “Jimi Hendrix in Maui” and “The Rolling Stones On The Air,” with performances and documentaries from Marvin Gaye, Wu Tang Clan, and many more

Steve McQueen (“Small Axe”), Radha Blank (“The Forty-Year-Old Version”), Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”), Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) and Sofia Coppola (“On The Rocks”) will be feted at the 16th Final Draft Awards recognizing outstanding screenwriting March 2

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Glenn Close are honorees for their significant contributions to the fight against AIDS at A Gala For Our Time on March 4. Billy Porter, Bette Midler, Julia Roberts, Kelly Clarkson and Rita Ora are all in for this free event benefitting the amfAR Fund to Fight COVID-19 at amfarvirtualgala.org.

TASTY QUIP: “One of the first steps was to trust Lee [Daniels]. I was really happy to see, as a fan of Billie Holiday, that the story would be really vindicating her legacy. Because of his storytelling, the world would get to know this icon as not a tragic drug addict but actually as the godmother of the civil rights movement, which she truly was.” – ANDRA DAY to “CBS This Morning” on tackling the lead role in “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” now showing on Hulu

TC ON TV: Feb. 26 – “Top Class: The Life and Times of The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers” (IMDb TV): Executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, the series follows the high school team’s quest for a third straight state championship. “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry” (Apple TV+): On the singer-songwriter and her rise to global superstardom. “Tom & Jerry” (HBO Max): The cartoon adversaries are at it again in a live-action/animated movie from director Tim Story (“Shaft”). “Forward: The Future of Black Music” (Facebook): Chance The Rapper and his brother Taylor Bennett “Black Renaissance” (YouTube): The Obamas, Killer Mike and Desus & Mero appear in this special showcasing Black creatives. “Hip Hop Uncovered” (FX): The OGs find themselves facing a dilemma, join the establishment or keep to the code of the street? “The Amber Ruffin Show” (NBC): Peacock’s late-night breakout hit gets a two-week broadcast slot.

Feb. 28 – “Black Lives Matter: A Global Reckoning” (Vice): Israel “Don’t Waste Your Pretty” (TV1): Keri Hilson (“Think Like A Man”) and Deborah Joy Winans (“Greenleaf”) star in this movie based on the novel by Demetria L. Lucas. “Boiling Point” (BET): “Attica” looks at the violent inmate uprising that exposed a broken system of incarceration in America. “78th Annual Golden Globes Awards” (NBC): Chadwick Boseman and Regina King are nominated. “My Fave Vs. Your Fave” (Food): A panel of opinionated food lovers debate the best dishes ever with Sunny Anderson presiding. “Disrupt & Dismantle” (BET): Soledad O’Brien visits “The Most Incarcerated Zip Code in America.”

March 1 – “Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell” (Netflix): A documentary celebrating The Notorious B.I.G. on his journey from hustler to rap king. “9-1-1” (Fox): Legendary comic actress Marsha Warfield guests as the mother of Hen (Aisha Hinds).

March 2 – “(In)visible Portraits” (OWN): Oge Egbuonu’s powerful celebration of Black women sharing their stories of struggle, resilience and beyond. “Soul Of A Nation” (ABC/Hulu): Billed as the first broadcast network newsmagazine on Black life in America, special guest hosts like this week’s Jemele Hill and Marsai Martin join forces with ABC and ESPN news anchors and correspondents.

TASTY QUIP: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – MIKE TYSON

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

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