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9 films to check out at this weekend’s Pan African Film Festival

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sam Reid star in “Belle,” the closing night feature of the Pan African Film Festival, Sunday at the Plaza Theatre. CONTRIBUTED BY TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT

From a classy British drama about a mixed-race young woman whose plight helps lead to slavery’s end in England to a documentary about, well, big bottoms, the Pan African Film Festival brings more than 50 films expressing very different aspects of the African diaspora to Atlanta this weekend.

Long associated with the National Black Arts Festival, the film festival is being presented independently here this year, Thursday through Sunday at the Plaza Theatre.

  • “Supremacy” is the opening night feature (7:25 p.m. Thursday), and star Danny Glover will appear on the red carpet along with director Deon Taylor (starting at 6:30 p.m.). The drama follows a just-paroled white supremacist (played by Joe Anderson) who kills a cop and then takes a black family hostage in their home when he seeks refuge. The family patriarch (Glover) turns out to be an ex-con with issues of his own who’s forced to rely on his wits and understanding of the racist mind to keep his family safe.

Other highlights include:

  • “Of Good Report” (8:55 p.m. Friday), a contemporary film noir from South Africa about a new teacher at the high school who becomes obsessed with a student, who then goes missing.
  • “Bottoms Up: Rise of the Backside” (9:30 p.m. Friday), a short documentary on the current infatuation with big-derriered women, as witnessed on everything from the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue to bootylicious publicity photos and a teaser video for Nicki Minaj’s new single, “Anaconda.”
  • “Felix” (11:25 a.m. Saturday), a South African drama about an outcast scholarship student at a private school who, to prepare for the school’s jazz concert, connects with his late father’s aging band mates, against his mother’s wishes.
  • “Confusion Na Wa” (6:30 p.m. Saturday), a Nigerian dramedy set in motion when a found phone leads to a case of blackmail gone wrong, intertwining the fate of six strangers.
  • “The Case of the Three-Sided Dream” (6:45 p.m. Saturday), a documentary on the life of blind jazz musician Rahsaan Roland Kirk, recalled for playing three horns simultaneously and continuing to gig with ferocious passion even after suffering a stroke at age 40.
  • “Grown Girls Getaway” (3:10 p.m. Sunday), Atlanta filmmaker Roger Bobb’s latest, set to air on TV One, tells the tale of four BFFs (Garcelle Beauvais, Essence Atkins, Terri Vaughn and Malinda Williams) whose Caribbean vacation turns from fun to trouble.
  • “Belle” (5:40 p.m. Sunday), a British drama whose director Amma Asante and star Gugu Mbatha-Raw will appear after the screening. It’s the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), the mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her skin color blocks her from participating in the traditions of her social standing. Belle falls for an idealistic fiery legal apprentice (Sam Reid) bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as lord chief justice to end slavery in 18th-century England. By the way, if you miss it in the theater, “Belle” is due out on Blu-ray and DVD on Aug. 26.
  • “Brothers Hypnotic” (8:50 p.m. Sunday), a documentary about the eight sons of Chicago trumpeter and former Sun Ra sideman Phil Cohran who try to cut their own musical path with the powerful voice of their anti-establishment father resonating in their collective consciousness.

EVENT PREVIEW

Pan African Film Festival

Aug. 7-10 at the Plaza Theatre. Regular screenings: $12; $10 students with ID; $8 ages 62 and up; $6 under 12. Opening night: $15 screening; $35 screening and after-party. Closing night: $20. 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 310-337-4737, www.paff.org.


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