About the Film Festival

The Smithsonian African American Film Festival, presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will put the spotlight on both historical and contemporary works that tell the stories of African American and African diasporic experiences.

This multi-day cinematic experience celebrates African American visual culture and film. Attendees will not only see new works by some of our brightest emerging and veteran filmmakers, but they will also have unique access to experience historic, lesser-known films from the Museum’s collection.

It is only film festival of its kind – a conversation between the Museum’s collection and works that illuminate and expand on its themes. The 2018 inaugural Film Festival is organized thematically around with 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

This collection of films showcases how a sense of place has deeply shaped African American history and culture. In turn, a multifaceted range of African American communities and identities have formed and changed in all corners of the country with indelible influence on the regions around them. These films will explore communities in Detroit, New York City, and Washington, D.C., among others.

Cultural Expressions

This collection of films visualizes the five forms of African American and African diasporic culture. Cultural expressions represented in these films include Style: Image and Identity; Foodways: Culture and Cuisine; Artistry: Craftsmanship and Creativity; Language: The Power of the Word; and Movement: Gesture and Social Dance.