Pan African Film Festival Highlights Featuring 'Smell of Summer,' 'Two Single Beds' And More
Photo Credit: PAFF
Festivals , Film

Pan African Film Festival Highlights Featuring 'Smell of Summer,' 'Two Single Beds' And More

The Pan African Film Festival exists to give a platform to and honor a range of Black storytellers. This year’s festival included virtual screenings, but didn’t fall short of delivering on its mission. Two Snobs and A Critic hosts Christine Cauthen, Robert Pickett and Sankara Sauvignon got the chance to check out some films, shorts and documentaries across genres. Check out some of the highlights below:  


Smell of Summer  

Writer: Kris Wilson - Director: Kris Wilson  

In just 22 minutes Kris Wilson, former NFL player and graduate of UCLA film, takes viewers on an adventure filled with child-like wonder, curiosity, the freedom of summer and the sorrow that sometimes hits unannounced. No matter how far removed you are from the wide-open world that the first day of summer presents, the imagery in the opening of this film has the power to make you believe you just turned in your final assignments and heard the last school bell ring. A sunny day, nothing but adventure ahead, and three young boys on the streets of Philadelphia looking for something to do.  

There’s a rapport between the kids that is all too familiar. There’s a hint of peer pressure, some joking banter and the err of having to prove that you’re not a little kid anymore. But when simple, relatively risk-free tasks like posing on a neighborhood motorcycle are traded in for walking outside their parents’ pre-set boundaries and climbing to the top of an abandoned parking structure, the kids see even more than they imagined. They throw pennies and make wishes from way up high, screaming into their idea of the void. They’re playing, being kids, and even admitting some harsh truths of their family life.  

“What would you do if you could change the world?” A kid asks. “I would make it summer all the time,” says another still enveloped in youth. “I would make all food free so no one was hungry,” says another who has seemingly seen the need for a wish that big.  

On the way back to their block, the boys bear witness to a heart-stopping tragedy. And just as soon as it happens, they’re walking home, processing the weight of what they saw in silence and by holding each other close. It is unsaid, but they will remember that moment. Smell of Summer is a look into innocence, and how quickly that can be taken from any of us. Even on a sunny summer day.  

Finding Sally  

Writer: Tamara Mariam Dawit - Director: Tamara Mariam Dawit  

Finding Sally follows Tamara Dawit, the film’s director, as she embarks on a journey to piece together her aunt’s life who became a communist rebel with the Ethiopian  People's revolutionary party. From the onset, the documentary’s raw and personal nature really sets the tone. Tamara takes us on a historical journey of the Ethiopian revolution and the massacre that followed suit. With a 75-minute runtime, this feature documentary carefully weaves historical context with emotional grab. Even if you aren’t familiar with Ethiopian history, the beats of the story are easy to follow and understand.  

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Finding Sally is at its strongest when Tamara’s family members are giving their accounts of the revolutionary wartime of Ethiopia. The film truly illustrates the hardships of revolutions and that beyond the surface of romanticizing it in today’s times, there are true consequences and lasting impacts for better or worse that affect real people.  

I Am Samuel  

Writer: Ricardo Acosta, Peter Murimi - Director: Peter Murimi  

I Afm Samuel is the story of Samuel, a Kenyan man who, because of his sexual identity as a gay man, struggles to win acceptance of his family. This feature documentary is such an intimate and touching portrayal of Samuel in a country and society that is so vehemently against who he is. Samuel grew up in the Kenyan countryside where tradition and religion reign supreme and despite constant threats and violence against his sexuality from the government and the community he courageously perseveres. The film is a true work of bravery that shows the audience love in its rawest forms.  

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The simplicity of I Am Samuel, is what really draws you in as you truly feel like you are on this beautiful journey as a friend of Samuel. The film is yet another reminder of the agency and fight that the LGBTQ+ community face around the world and the courage it takes to simply exist.  

Two Single Beds  

Writer: Daniel Kaluuya - Director: William Stefan Smith  

Two Single Beds is a story about two stand-up comedians who decompress by sharing a  few drinks at the bar after experiencing different levels of audience participation from the crowd. They lose themselves in the conversations, temporarily misplacing the sting of a lousy set, lapsing on thinking about the loved ones waiting for them at home - and losing track of time itself. After missing the last train out of town and the only available hotel room in the city being a standard room with two twin beds, they’re begrudgingly alone. With no more drinks, no more comedy club ambiance, or a ‘last call’ acting as a  backstop to their interactions for the night, they’re forced to sit (or stand-up) in their isolation.  

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Underperforming in a profession with varying amounts of self-adulation is the purgatory of solitude. Between the efforts made to hone your craft and workshop material only to barely survive in an unstable career, lie exceptionally clear sections of life that provide perspective but often create conflicts. If they were performing on a more prominent platform, would that curtail their dismay? I mean, if you’re famous you don’t have to stick around for drinks because the car service comes with a stocked bar, or the hotel your team booked has a 24/7 spa. The old phrase “Money can’t buy you happiness”  initially comes to mind. However, it can buy you time. And although time at home with your pregnant life partner isn’t always peaceful, there aren’t many walking this earth who would enjoy downgrading and reverting to sleeping in a twin bed.


Two Snobs and A Critic is a weekly entertainment podcast providing you with hot takes on TV, movies and all kinds of content. Listen in for recommendations, interviews with film industry experts and more opinions than you can imagine. Listen on your favorite podcast platform and follow us on Twitter at @2snobsandacritc and Instagram at @2snobsandacritic.

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