February 4-17, 2025
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
Cinemark Baldwin Hills & XD
Lou Gossett Jr. adn Ayuko Babu at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Statement from Ayuko Babu, PAFF Co-Founder on the Passing of Louis Gossett Jr.

Lou Gossett Collage

“Brother Lou Gossett Jr. had a major influence on the Pan African Film Festival and a major influence on my life.

“So, a whole bunch of people hear about the Pan African Film Festival and don’t ever come. Don’t ever stop, don’t ever pay attention. Lou not only stopped and paid attention, he came down to see what was going on. Because he had that ability to see that we were doing something and had brought stories about Black people from around the whole planet. He got a chance to sit over there in Baldwin Hills and see the whole world. That’s how our relationship started and Brother Lou made a point to come to the Pan African Film Festival as often as he could.

“We honored him in 2006 with our Lifetime Achievement Award.

“He understood and he had an intuitive sense of what was significant culturally for Black folks and intellectually emotional for Black folks and where you could get knowledge and information and rejuvenate yourself.

“But Lou was beyond an actor. He was in the realm of a griot–a djeli–a West African storyteller. These are the people who come onto the planet every once in a while that carry through because they can tell our story–they know our story and they can make up, stop and look and listen at ourselves. And that takes a special spirit that’s connected to the universe–that’s connected to the past, the present, and the future and has the skill to tell the story–that’s a djeli. That’s a griot–somebody has that power in storytelling.

“Brother Lou was so good he brought you there, whatever the story was. You got into the story.
“Now I’m completely anti-white American military industrial complex. I’m on the other side with the revolutionaries. When you saw An Officer and a Gentleman–which he won the Academy Award for–Lou was so good playing the drill sergeant, he made you think about wanting to join his army. It was amazing. That’s the last thing I wanted to see was some film about a crazy drill sergeant, a crazy Black self hating man in the “Marine Corps.–but Lou took you there. He took you there to the point that you stopped and paid attention to the drill sergeant in the Marine Corp. and thought maybe you wanted to join the Marines. Because he had that ability. He was a griot.”

–Ayuko Babu
Pan African Film and Arts Festival

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