Ahead of forthcoming official announcements, leading up to the opening of the 21st edition of the annual Pan African Film Festival next month, S&A has learned exclusively that writer, director, producer, and executive Reginald Hudlin has been tapped as this year's Keynote Speaker for the PAFF Film Institute.

The PAFF Institute was created in 2012, offering a four-part series, featuring one-day intensive workshops on various subjects, pertaining to the entertainment industry – acting, producing, directing, writing, distribution and marketing.

Industry leaders, actors, actresses, directors, writers and film critics were tapped to participate in panel discussions and workshops to engage and entertain festival goers, with the mission being to promote and enhance the professional growth of filmmakers.

In its inaugural year, the PAFF Film Institute concentrated on "the business of show business." After all, there’s no business like show business!

Also worth noting is that Vipaka – the southern, gothic, psychological thriller that stars Forest WhitakerAnthony MackieSanaa LathanNicole Ari Parker and Mike Epps – will be the Opening Night Film at this year's festival – the 21st edition.

Directed by French/Lebanese helmer Philippe Calandthe film centers on an earnest life-coach/author who is mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, who uses the author's spiritual messages of Karma – action and reaction (Vipaka) – against him to terrorize him and his family for their past sins.

Whitaker, who stars in the film, also produced it.

Official press announcements of both items above will be made eventually, leading up to the festival, which already boasts Salli Richardson-Whitfield as its Celebrity Host for the festival's 21st Annual edition, and also will fete actors Omari Hardwick and Nicole Beharie, who will both be honored with the festival's annual Rising Stars award.

Omari Hardwick has been tapped for the Canada Lee Award and Nicole Beharie for the Beah Richards Award. Obviously PAFF’s Rising Star awards are named after actors Canada Lee and Oscar-nominee Beah Richards, who pioneered roles for African Americans in cinema, television and stage, and sparked civil rights activism in their work, respectively.

PAFF 2013 is set to take place at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, and will kick off festivities with a star-studded Opening Night Gala on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at the Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 theatre.

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is an official event of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa's Celebration of African American Heritage Month.

In addition, the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) will receive the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association(AAFCA).

The festival will be recognized for its contribution to cinematic arts, and will be presented with the award during the AAFCA’s private awards ceremony on Friday, February 8, 2013 at theTaglyan Complex in Hollywood, Calif.

Each year, PAFF screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from all over the world.

This year's edition runs from February 7 – 18.

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