African-American Film Festival Returns

The Kravis Center will screen Lean On Me, Akeelah and the Bee, and The Great Debaters during the sixteenth annual event in February

Three award-winning films, a dynamic host, and the celebration of a local legend will be the hallmarks of this year’s ArtSmart Continuing Arts Education Series’ 16th Annual African-American Film Festival (AAFF) at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach February 1, 8, and 15. Hosted by William “Bill” Nix, this year’s event theme is “A Salute to Education: Stories of Triumph” and honors the festival’s founder James Drayton.

A strong advocate for equal rights and equality, Drayton was a former West Palm Beach city commissioner and founder of the annual African American Film Festival, the African American Heritage Bookstore in West Palm Beach, and the Together We Stand Democratic Club. furthering his goal of imparting to future generations the knowledge from his years of experience.

The event lineup includes:

2. AAFF-Lean-on-MeLean On Me

February 1 at 7 p.m.

Winner of two NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture, and Outstanding Motion Picture, Lean On Me stars Morgan Freeman as real-life New Jersey High School principal Joe Clark. Tasked with reforming the school by his old friend and School Superintendent Dr. Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume), Clark tackles gangs, drugs, low test scores, and a host of other issues plaguing the school.


3. AAFF-Akeelah-and-the-Bee

Akeelah and the Bee

February 8 at 7 p.m.

When 11-year-old Akeelah (Keke Palmer) discovers she has a gift for spelling, she sets a goal to compete in the National Spelling Bee. Despite her mother’s (Angela Bassett) objections and numerous other obstacles, Akeelah is determined to achieve her goal. With the help of her coach, Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), her classmates, and members of her community, Akeelah makes it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  

4. AAFF-The-Great-Debaters

The Great Debaters

February 15 at 7 p.m.

Based on a true story, The Great Debaters stars Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Nate Parker. Set in the 1930s, this film relates the struggles of an all-Black college debate team to gain equality against their white counterparts at a time when Jim Crow laws were in effect and African-Americans feared for their lives.

Tickets are $12 per show or $30 for the series and can be purchased online or by phone at (561) 832-7469 or (800) 572-8471. Student/educator rush discount available for all screenings.

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