The award-winning films were selected by PAFF’s urors while Audience Choice Awards were given to films based on the results of ballots cast by Festival filmgoers. Jury Awards were handed out for Best Documentary, Best Short, Best Director – First Feature, Best Feature, and Jury Favorite. PAFF Festival Choice Awards were given for Best Feature, Best Documentary and Audience Favorite while the Executive Director’s Choice Award was selected by Ayuko Babu solely.
The Jury Prize for Best Short was given to BEYOND THE PRETTY DOOR (United States), directed by Bobby Boermans. Three children try to survive under the cruel conditions created by their violent mother.
The Jury Prize for Best Documentary was given to HAVE YOU HEARD FROM JOHANNESBURG? (United States), directed by Connie Field. A fascinating look at how African-Americans helped turn the tide and alter U.S. foreign policy toward apartheid South Africa. Interviews with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ron Dellums and Walter Fauntroy. Honorable Mention went to CARMEN AND GEOFFREY (United States) directed by Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob.
The Jury Prize for Best Feature was given to ZAÏNA: RIDER OF THE ATLAS (Morocco/France/Germany), directed by Bourlem Guerdjou. An 11-year-old girl meets her real father for the first time after her mother’s death. Fleeing from her obsessed stepfather, whom she believes caused her mother’s death, the girl and her father travel to Marrakech where her father, a horseman, plans to participate in the most prestigious horse-race of North Africa. Pursued by the wealthy and powerful stepfather, the girl and her father slowly begin to create a bond that will get them through the hardships that lay both ahead and behind them.
The Jury Prize for Best Director First Feature was given to SOMBODIES (United States), directed by Hadjii. A church-going, party-hopping college student looking for a good time and a little luck with the ladies finds his path to peace of mind is fraught with a demanding fire-and-brimstone preacher, an eccentric Southern family, and a sexy young woman.
The Jury Favorite Award was given to SHOOT THE MESSENGER (United Kingdom/Nigeria), directed by Ngozi Onwurah. A Black teacher is falsely accused of assaulting one of his Black pupils. He loses his job and his sanity as the Black community brands him a racist. Destitute, he must confront his fear and hatred of his own community to reclaim his life. A highly provocative comedy about one Black man’s feelings on being Black. Shocking, disturbing, and funny, the spotlight is thrown on racial views and attitudes in a way that is anything but “politically correct!”
The PAFF Audience Choice Award was given to SALUD! (United States), directed by Connie Field. Engulfed by health care crises, South Africa, the Gambia, Honduras, and Venezuela work with Cuba in an effort to overcome the frightening scarcities and inequities in their health care systems. In addition to traveling to poor rural and urban areas to provide medical care to people, many of whom have never seen a doctor. Cuban doctors train would-be health professionals from the very populations in need of medical care.
The Festival Choice Award was awarded to CUTTIN’ DA MUSTARD (United States), directed by Reed McCants. An urban comedy with a serious take. The film chronicles the lives of a group of aspiring young community theatre actors in Queens, New York, who perfect their craft while grappling with personal problems. Spirits sour and soar in the face of obstacles like puppy love and its heartbreak, illiteracy, and low-self esteem. The film follows this young, rag tag group of actors as they sharpen their skills and change their lives. The cast includes: Brandon T. Jackson, Keshia Knight Pulliam,Adrienne Bailon, Chico Benymon, Lil’ Zane, Shaun Baker, Lorenzo Eduardo, Paige Bryan, Lauren Karl, Brenda Vivian, Taylor Tan, Chioke Dmachi, Tangie Ambrose, Bonita Brisker, Charles S. Dutton, Debra Wilson, and Sinbad.
The Festival Vision Award was awarded to A GOAT’S TAIL (United Kingdom/Ghana), directed by Julius Amedume. After being invited by a young actress to come to London, a would-be poet shows up on her doorstep hoping to fulfill his dreams. He soon learns that the grass is not always greener on the other side and people are not what they seem. An intense, gritty drama built around the pitfalls of life in the West.
The Festival Choice Award for Best Documentary was given to MY NAPPY ROOTS: A JOURNEY THROUGH BLACK HAIR-ITAGE (United States) directed by Regina Kimbell and Jay Bluemke. An edutainment documentary placing black hair under a magnifying glass and examining the social and psychological “roots” of African American culture. Interviews with Kim Fields, Patti LaBelle, Vivica A. Fox, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Elise Neal, and Ella Joyce among others.
The PAFF Executive Director’s Choice Award went to DARATT (Chad/France/Belgium/Austria), directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and FLY LIKE MERCURY (United States), directed by Harry J. Lennix. DARATT takes place in Chad, where the government has granted amnesty to all war criminals. Unable to accept that the murderer of his father will go unpunished, a young man sets off to avenge his father’s murder. A beautifully developed, powerful film juxtaposing the human urge for revenge against the even more human need for reconciliation. FLY LIKE MERCURY tells the story of a world-class sprinter who tragically discovers the difference between a winner and a champion. Honorable Mentions went to LOST HERITAGE (Guadeloupe/Gabon), directed by Christian Lara, RAG TAG (United Kingdom/Nigeria), directed by Adaora Nwandeau, HURRICANE IN THE ROSE GARDEN (United States), directed by Ime Etuk, and The Minority (United States), directed by Dwayne Buckle.