The 2018 Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's Film Festival has ended. 

The 2018 film festival was a multi-day cinematic experience celebrating African American visual culture and film. Attendees experienced historic films alongside contemporary works by some of the brightest emerging and veteran filmmakers including Barry Jenkins, Julie Dash, Adepero Oduye, Haile Gerima, Cauleen Smith, Kevin Jerome Everson, Bobitto Garcia, Bradford Young and more. 

Attendees also had the opportunity to network with filmmakers and talent of our more than 80 films. Events included Screenings of some the most iconic African American films from history and today, Post Screening Conversations with filmmakers and actors, Master Classes with industry experts, Exchanges with the opportunity to share ideas about film production and the archive of the moving image. 

Festival Photo Highlights

Photo highlights from all four days of the festival.

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The 2018 inaugural Film Festival was organized thematically around the Museum’s collection and inaugural exhibitions in the following categories:


Making a Way Out of No Way

Taking its inspiration from a popular African American expression, Making a Way Out of No Way explores themes of agency, creativity, and resilience through personal stories of African Americans who challenged racial oppression and discrimination and created ways forward in times when there appeared to be “no way.” This collection of films will showcase the many ways African Americans crafted possibilities in a world that denied them opportunities. 

Power of Place

A sense of place has deeply shaped African American history and culture. A multifaceted range of African American communities and identities have formed and changed in all corners of the country and in turn influenced the regions around them. This collection of films will explore communities in Detroit, New York City, and Washington, DC, among others. 

Cultural Expressions

Cultural Expressions is a circular, experiential, introductory space to African American and African diaspora culture. These films include representations of Style: Image and Identity; Foodways: Culture and Cuisine; Artistry: Craftsmanship and Creativity; Language: The Power of the Word; and Movement: Gesture and Social Dance. 


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Film Festival Recap:

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This festival is made possible through the generous support of our partners.