30th Annual Pan African Film Festival Postponed Amid COVID-19 Surge

Pan African Film Festival Composite (Credit: PAFF and Shutterstock)

With Los Angeles County setting a weekly record for positive COVID-19 cases, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) has decided to postpone its 30th anniversary celebration.

Organizers issued a statement this weekend, saying the festival will no longer take place from Feb. 8-21 in Los Angeles as planned. Instead, the gathering has been rescheduled in the city for April 19 through May 1.

“The decision to postpone this year’s PAFF did not come easy because we were looking forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary in-person with our community,” Ayuko Babu, PAFF executive director, said. “But we could not in good conscious put the PAFF community in harm’s way.”

Related StoryGrammy Awards Postponed Indefinitely as COVID-19 Surges

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell praised the decision to delay the festival.

“I commend the Pan African Film and Arts Festival for leading by example in protecting our community,” Mitchell said. “The cultural significance, artistic contributions, and fellowship that PAFF offers can never be stopped. I look forward to PAFF safely commemorating 30 Years in the Second Supervisorial District.”

PAFF is among the nation’s largest festivals showcasing Black films. Each year it takes place in Los Angeles, and in April will continue the tradition of holding events at the Directors Guild of America, Cinemark Baldwin Hills and XD and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

Related Story: ‘Amazing Grace’ Opens Pan African Film Festival to Tears and Applause

Danny Glover co-founded the festival and serves as the 2022 celebrity ambassador.

“It’s been over 30 years since we first traveled to FESPACO in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and were inspired to replicate their celebration and promotion of Black films and Black filmmakers here in America,” he said. “We want to celebrate 30 years of connecting the Pan African Film Festival audience with the broader African diaspora through film and art and have made the decision to postpone the festival until it’s safe to do that in-person.”

Coronavirus infections in Los Angeles County have been steadily rising in recent days because of the Omicron variant. On Friday, health officials reported a record 43,712 new daily cases. There was a decline on Saturday to 34,448 new infections, but the numbers jumped to 45,584 cases on Sunday. The county health department says there have been more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past 7 days, the highest number in one week since the pandemic began.