Museum News

Smithsonian African American Film Festival Unveils Inaugural Film Slate

Over 80 Films to Be Screened at First Film Festival; 15 Films Premiering in Competition

September 20, 2018

The Smithsonian African American Film Festival, presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture has announced the film slate for its inaugural event, taking place Oct. 24-27 in Washington, D.C. Of the over 80 total films that will be screened, 15 are part of the film festival’s competition. The films that are not a part of the competition have been curated, invited or come from the museum’s Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts’ (CAAMA) collection, many of which have been preserved and restored by the Museum. Each of the films selected connect to the Museum’s inaugural exhibitions: Power of Place, Making A Way Out of No Way and Cultural Expressions.

“These selected films are more than just great entertainment; they are also cultural markers that expand the timeline of African American experiences,” said Rhea L. Combs, Supervisory Museum Curator of Photography & Film and Director of CAAMA. “By screening world premieres next to films that haven’t been shown in decades or have been restored and preserved by the museum, we are honoring our past, our present and our future. This film festival has something for everyone, from feature length narratives to short experimental films. We look forward to giving our audiences the opportunity to explore cinematic works by some of the brightest emerging and veteran filmmakers.”

The 15 films in the competition portion of the film festival were selected from over 225 film submissions by a panel of 25 industry professionals, including filmmakers, film executives, curators, scholars, and Smithsonian leaders. The films will be judged on a set of criteria including technical merit, relevance to the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection, storytelling and representation of African American history and culture. A winner will be selected by nine jurors in each of the five categories: Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Narrative Short, Documentary Short and Experimental & Animation.

Additional programs, including the opening and closing night films will be announced in the coming weeks. The film slate for the inaugural Smithsonian African American Film Festival includes:

JURIED FILMS IN COMPETITION:

Alaska Is A Drag, directed by Shaz Bennett, 2017, 83 min
Competition – Narrative Feature – Power of Place
An amateur boxer who slices fish all day daydreams of a better life. When a new kid offers to be his sparring partner, he and his twin sister are forced to confront the real reason they’re stuck in fish guts.

Black 14, directed by Darius Clark Monroe, 2018, 15 min
Competition – Documentary Short – Cultural Expressions
This documentary short tells the story of what happened when a group of college athletes on the University of Wyoming’s football team decided to protest a long-standing racial injustice in 1969.

The Changing Same, directed by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster, 2017, 21 min
Competition – Documentary Short – Cultural Expressions
In the Florida Panhandle lies the provincial town of Marianna, Florida, where one native resident runs a particular marathon in hopes of lifting the veil of racial terror caused by the town’s buried history.

The Future is Bright, directed by Tate Nova, 2017, 10 min.
Competition – Narrative Short – Cultural Expressions
In 1979, a local newscaster prepares to cover an anti-KKK protest in Greensboro, North Carolina, and realizes that she may never be ready for the events to come.

Gilda Brasileiro – Against Oblivion, directed by Viola Scheuerer and Roberto Manhães Reis, 2018, 90 min
Competition – Documentary Feature – Power of Place
Gilda Brasileiro discovers documents about an illegal slave-trading point in the Brazilian rainforest, where hundreds of thousands of Africans were enslaved.

Give, directed by David de Rozas, 2018, 16 min
Competition – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Challenging traditional documentary practices with experimental approaches to editing and sound, Give explores collective representations of history, memory, and culture; where pasts, presents, and futures are molded by the blending of imagination, facts, and love.

Guion, directed by Sagi Kahane-Rapport and Adam Madrzyk, 2018, 20 min
Competition – Narrative Short – Cultural Expressions
Guion tells the true-life story of NASA astronaut Guion Bluford as he grapples with the reality that he is to become the first African American man in space.

Moonlight Sonata, directed by David W. Connolly, 2017, 6 min
Competition – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
In Moonlight Sonata, Juilliard-trained classical pianist Pauletta Washington tells the story of a young dreamer who leaves Haiti to make a life for himself in Paris.

Respect and Love, directed by Angelique Webster, 2018, 15 min
Competition – Documentary Short – Cultural Expressions
Through a frank conversation about past sexual abuse by a priest, a mother and daughter get to know each other and reimagine their relationship.   

Sojourn, directed by Jonathan Lewis, 2018, 13 min
Competition – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
While on a self-enlightening journey home, a young black man struggles with confronting deep mental and emotional hurdles surrounding race.

Solace, directed by Tchaiko Omawale, 2018, 80 min
Competition – Narrative Feature – Cultural Expressions
Solace
is a moving and artful portrait of a smart, driven, and self-destructive teenage orphan struggling to find her place.

Sprinter, directed by Storm Saulter, 2018, 112 min
Competition – Narrative Feature – Making a Way Out of No Way
A Jamaican teen, burdened by an unstable father and an unruly older brother, hopes a meteoric rise in track-and-field can reunite him with his mother, who has lived illegally in the United States for more than a decade.

This Little Light, directed by Wendi Moore-O’Neal and Ada McMahon, 2018, 48 min
Competition – Documentary Feature – Making a Way Out of No Way
This Little Light
tells the story of Wendi Moore-O’Neal, a black feminist freedom singer from New Orleans, who was fired from her community organizing job after marrying her wife, Mandisa.

United Skates, directed by Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, 2018, 88 min
Competition – Documentary Feature – Cultural Expressions
When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially charged environment to save an underground subculture—one that has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talent.

Where the Water Runs, directed by DuBois N. Ashong, 2018, 25 min
Competition – Narrative Short – Cultural Expressions
Where the Water Runs
tells the story of Nasir, a disingenuous water distribution operative and truck driver working for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power during the worst drought in the city’s history.

NMAAHC Collection and Invited Films:
The Ancestors Came, directed by Cecile Emeke, 2017, 5 min
Invitational – Documentary Short – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
A short film exploring the life and work of prolific artist Faith Ringgold. By eschewing linear narrative and drawing connections within her collection of works, the film weaves a larger narrative throughout the story.

Baldwin’s Nigger, directed by Horace Ové, 1968, 46 min
Invitational – Documentary Short – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Radicalism Revisited: Selections from ‘Say It Loud’” Program by Ashley Clark
In this riveting time-capsule documentary, James Baldwin—on the top of his persuasive rhetorical game—and comedian-activist Dick Gregory speak to a group of radical West Indian students in London about everything from the state of the Civil Rights Movement to the perils of false consciousness.

Bedford Stuyvesant Youth in Action, 1965, 6 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
Shot by an unknown cinematographer, this silent footage records an event held by the community outreach organization Bedford Stuyvesant Youth in Action, Inc. and features an art exhibition and fashion show on a residential street in the neighborhood.

The Black G.I. for Black Journal, directed by Kent Garrett, 1970, 54 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Feature – Power of Place
The Black G.I.
, originally created as a two-part episode for Black Journal , is a documentary that focuses on the experiences of African American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Black Liberation (aka Silent Revolution), directed by Edouard De Laurot, 1967, 37 min
Invitational – Documentary Short – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Radicalism Revisited: Selections from ‘Say It Loud’” Program by Ashley Clark
Produced in collaboration with Malcolm X and narrated by Ossie Davis, this call to arms layers revolutionary text from multiple sources, narrated with gravitas by Ossie Davis, with gritty, footage of African-American struggle shot on the streets of New York footage.

Black Panthers, directed by Agnès Varda, 1968, 31 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Making a Way Out of No Way
This classic 1968 documentary highlights the activities of the Black Panther Party’s headquarters in Oakland, California as its members fight for the freedom of its imprisoned co-founder Huey P. Newton.

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, directed by Sara Driver, 2018, 78 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Cultural Expressions
Never-before-seen works, writings, and photographs offer insight into the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat as a teenager in New York City in the late 1970s.

Cane River, directed by Horace B. Jenkins, 1982, 90 min. Invitational – Narrative Feature – Power of Place
A Romeo and Juliet love story with a surprise ending set near Natchitoches, Louisiana, in one of the first “free communities of color.”

Clean Water, directed by Kamau Wainaina, 2017, 7 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
In a three-part visual soliloquy, Kamau Wainaina outlines his ideological journey immigrating from Kenya to England, and finally to New York.

Color Us Black!, directed by Dick McCutcheon, 1968, 60 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Feature – Making a Way Out of No Way
A documentary that examines the 1968 student strike at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The film looks at how the school’s disciplining of 39 students led to students occupying the Administration Building in protest over four days.

Colored Spade, directed by Betye Saar, 1971, 2 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Radicalism Revisited: Selections from ‘Say It Loud’” Program by Ashley Clark
Lasting 79 seconds and costing under $100 to make, Colored Spade is an assemblage of derogatory images gradually replaced with depictions of African-American power and solidarity.

Copper, directed by Summer Mason, 2017, 8 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
An experimental film exploring black death from a gender perspective.

Diasporadical Trilogìa, directed by Blitz the Ambassador, 2016, 17 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “Diaspora Transcendentals” Program
An experimental film that follows the story of a woman who mysteriously lived on three different continents at the same time.

An Ecstatic Experience, directed by Ja’Tovia Gary, 2015, 6 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “Say Her Name” Program
This short creative work is a meditative invocation on transcendence as a means of restoration.

Editing Exercises, produced and edited by Hortense “Tee” Beveridge, c. 1950s, 3 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
These short, edited classroom sequences made at New York University show off the editing techniques of the under recognized artist Hortense “Tee” Beveridge.

Everybody Dies!, directed by Nuotama Frances Bodomo, 2016, 10 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
In this recreated public access television show, Ripa the Grim Reaper teaches black kids about the day they'll die.

The Fight, directed by William Greaves, 1991, 126 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Ali” Program by Steve Macfarlane
The Fight chronicles a legendary match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971.

Fluid Frontiers, directed by Ephraim Asili, 2017, 23 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
This is the fifth and final film in an ongoing experimental series exploring director Ephraim Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora.

Four Women, directed by Julie Dash, 1978, 7 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “Say Her Name” Program
Set to the stirring music of the same name, Four Women explores longstanding stereotypical perceptions of black women from oblique and poignant angles.  

Fulton Ferry Trims and Outtakes, directed by Pearl Bowser, c. 1960s, 2 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
A montage of outtakes and slates from a film project featuring Pearl Bowser while she was a student at New York University.

Garden, directed by Alima Lee, 2017, 5 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
Garden focuses on black women’s healing and daily rituals in order to overcome daily anxiety and depression. The protagonist struggles, yet she persists to honor herself by accomplishing tasks that seem mundane but are essential for her survival.

Gook, directed by Justin Chon, 2017, 94 min
Invitational – Narrative Feature – Cultural Expressions
Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, own a struggling shoe store and have an unlikely friendship with Kamilla, a street wise 11-year-old African American girl during the first day of the Los Angeles uprising in 1992.

The Guest, directed by Pearl Bowser, 1977, 5 min
NMAAHC Collection – Narrative Short – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
In this narrative short, a woman (Starletta DuPois), reveals her inner thoughts as she performs various domestic tasks around the bedroom.

H-2 Worker, directed by Stephanie Black, 1990, 70 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Feature – Power of Place
H-2 Worker
was recently restored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. This is the first time in more than 25 years this film is being screened in the region. The documentary reveals the systemic exploitation of Jamaican workers in the Florida sugar cane industry.

He Kind of Like Skipped Over Me and Tells All My African American Friends to Go Sit Down, directed by A.J. McClenon, 2015, 9 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Remnants of a Dream” Program by Amir George
This work contains pieces from an interview with Dajerria Becton, a 15-year-old girl who was attacked in 2015 by a McKinney, Texas police officer while attending a pool party in a predominantly white neighborhood.

Her Name in My Mouth, directed by Onyeka Igwe, 2017, 6 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Remnants of a Dream” Program by Amir George
Invoking a lineage of female ancestors through embodiment, gesture, and the archive, Her Name in My Mouth reimagines the Aba Women’s War, a major anti-colonial uprising in Nigeria in 1929.

I Am Somebody, directed by Madeline Anderson, 1969, 30 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Power of Place
This political documentary highlights the power of collective action by showing how black hospital workers on strike in Charleston, South Carolina united to demand better working conditions in 1969.

I, Destini, directed by Nicholas Pilarski and Destini Riley, 2016, 14 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Screening Truth to Power: Using the Power of Media to Influence Social Action” Exchange with Nicholas Pilarski, Destini Riley, and Ralph K. Scott
The short-animated film, tells the story of having an incarcerated brother from 14-year-old Destini Riley’s perspective.

Integration Report One, directed by Madeline Anderson, 1960, 20 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Making a Way Out of No Way
This documentary chronicles the civil rights struggle of the late 1950s. The film features many individuals who would later become influential figures in the Civil Rights Movement, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, and Andrew Young.

It’s the Same Old Game, directed by Charles Hobson, 1971, 23 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
A film on urban studies made to encourage local participation in the city planning process, which shows examples of poor urban development in the Carroll Gardens and Red Hook neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York.

Karate B-Roll from Black Journal, directed by William Greaves, 1970, 5 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
A segment from Black Journal showing martial arts instructors teaching a class while a jazz trio plays, and featuring karate master Ron Taganashi and musician John Ellington Blair.

Killer of Sheep, directed by Charles Burnett, 1978, 90 min
NMAAHC Collection – Narrative Feature – Power of Place
Set in the Watts area of Los Angeles, a slaughterhouse worker must suspend his emotions to continue working at a job he finds repugnant, then finds he has little sensitivity for the family he works so hard to support.

Kindah, directed by Ephraim Asili, 2016, 12 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
This experimental work is a poignant cinemagraphic link between two African diaspora communities: One in Hudson, New York and one in the Maroon village of Accompong in Jamaica.

Liberated Zones, directed by dana washington, 2017, 10 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
A film that is concerned with activating the imagination and engaging with it as an intervention against black suffering.

Like A Star, directed by Stefani Saintonge, 2018, 8 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Remnants of a Dream” Program by Amir George
An experimental documentary short based on a paragraph in Toni Morrison’s novel, Tar Baby, about the meditative, mystical life of an ant.

Like It Is, produced by Charles Hobson, c. 1970, 20 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Power of Place
This episode of Like It Is, a long-running morning current affairs television program hosted by Gil Noble, is a documentary about Newark, New Jersey narrated by the late poet, Amiri Baraka.

Logbook Serbistan, directed by Želimir Žilnik, 2015, 92 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Cultural Expressions
Part of “This is Not a Political Film…” Program by Greg de Cuir Jr. and Kevin Jerome Everson
This incisive docu-drama highlights the socio-political context in which illegal migrants and asylum seekers adapt to life in Serbia, and struggle to show their individual worth.

Malcolm X: Struggle for Freedom, directed by Lebert “Sandy” Bethune and John Taylor, 1964, 30 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Making a Way Out of No Way
This work contains some of the last interviews with the civil rights leader, Malcolm X, conducted in Paris just three months before his tragic assassination in the United States.

Milford Graves Full Mantis, directed by Jake Meginsky and Neil Young Cloaca, 2018, 90 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Cultural Expressions
The first feature length documentary to highlight renowned percussionist and avant-garde artist Milford Graves, this portrait takes the viewer on a journey to explore his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity.

More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters, directed by Kelly Gallagher, 2016, 6 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “This is Not a Political Film…” Program by Greg de Cuir Jr. and Kevin Jerome Everson
This is a short, colorful experimental animated documentary exploring the powerful and inspiring life of revolutionary and social activist Lucy Parsons (1853–1942).

Morris, directed by John E. Quill and produced and edited by Hortense “Tee” Beveridge, 1971, 9 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
A reel highlighting Hortense “Tee” Beveridge’s montage techniques paired with an experimental narrative made with members of the Brownsville Youth Center.

Mugabo, directed by Amelia Umuhire, 2016, 7 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
A short experimental film about a young girl’s return to the idealized homeland, a place full of borrowed memories.

No Vietnamese Ever…, directed by David Loeb Weiss, 1968, 86 min
NMAAHC Collections – Documentary Feature – Power of Place
NMAAHC and Anthology Film Archive recently restored and preserved this historical film, which has contemporary relevance. This historic work showcases the anti-war march from Harlem to the United Nations, where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in 1967.

Perfect Film, directed by Ken Jacobs, 1986, 21 min
Invitational – Documentary Short – Making a Way Out of No Way
Director Ken Jacobs found a newsreel discard from 1965 that contains eyewitness interviews, a police statement, and several location shots from the day of Malcolm X’s assassination. He presents them as they are, with no edits whatsoever.

Quincy, directed by Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks, 2018, 124 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Cultural Expressions
Quincy
is an intimate look into the life icon of Quincy Jones. The film shows Jones as a unique force in music and popular culture for 70 years who has transcended racial and cultural boundaries; his story is inextricably woven into the fabric of America.

Rebirth is Necessary directed by Jenn Nkiru, 2017, 10 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
This film explores the magic and dynamism of blackness in a realm where time and space are altered. The present, past, and the future are re-thought and re-ordered to create something soulful and mind-bendingly visceral.

Remnants of A Room, directed by Vonnie Quest, 2017, 4 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Remnants of a Dream” Program by Amir George
Reflections on a series of paranormal encounters that Vonnie Quest’s father experienced at age 12.

Right On!, directed by Henry Fernandes, c. 1970s, 2 min
NMAAHC Collection – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
Selections from the demo reel of animator Henry Fernandes, who wrote, designed, and produced spots for Sesame Street and The Electric Company during their heyday.

Rock Rubber 45s, directed by Bobbito García, 2018, 96 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Cultural Expressions
A cinematic odyssey exploring the connectivity of global basketball, sneaker, and music lifestyle through the firsthand lens of authentic New York City cultural ambassador Bobbito García. The film explores García’s youth dealing with his identity, mistreatment, educational quandaries, and loss, as well as his ascension to self-determination through creativity.

Sankofa, directed by Haile Gerima, 1993, 125 min
Invitational – Narrative Feature – Making a Way Out of No Way
While in West Africa, a young model (Oyafunmike Ogunlano) encounters an old mystic and gets transported into the past where she is enslaved on a plantation. Recently restored, this is the 25th anniversary screening of this highly lauded and moving film.

Soul Food for Christmas from Like It Is, produced by Charles Hobson, c. 1968, 6 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
This segment of program outtakes comes from the public broadcasting news program, Like It Is and showcases cooking lessons with author, director, and film collector Pearl Bowser.

Spit, directed by Mtume Gant, 2014, 13 min
Invitational – Narrative Short – Cultural Expressions
An underground New York hip-hop artist discovers it causes him more pain to practice and “starve” for his art than to persevere in the shifting hip-hop landscape of 21st century.

Statues Hardly Ever Smile, directed by Stan Lathan and produced by St. Clair Bourne, 1971, 20 min
NMAAHC Collection – Documentary Short – Power of Place
Part of “The Power of Place: The Pearl Bowser Collection in Action!” Exchange with Ina Archer
Produced by independent filmmaker St. Clair Bourne and his production company Chamba Productions, this film documents a program to bring children from the local community into the Brooklyn Museum to create performance art.

Still/Here, directed by Christopher Harris, 2001, 60 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Power of Place
A look at the vast landscape of ruins and decay on the north side of St. Louis, Missouri, an area populated almost exclusively by working class and working poor African Americans.

Summer Before Spring Ends, directed by Terence Price and Reginald O’Neal, 2016, 6 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Remnants of a Dream” Program by Amir George
A young man dreams of a perfect day, but is suddenly hit with a harsh reality that tampers his views on what he considered as the best season of the year.

Take This Hammer, directed by Richard O. Moore, 1963, 59 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Power of Place
Part of “This is Not a Political Film…” Program by Greg de Cuir Jr. and Kevin Jerome Everson
Richard Moore travels around San Francisco with KQED, the mobile film unit of northern California’s public radio station, and author and activist James Baldwin. Moore documents as Baldwin meets with members of the local African American community throughout the city.

A Thousand Words, directed by Melba Williams, 2003, 8 min
Invitational – Documentary Short – Power of Place
A Vietnam veteran who has suffered a stroke tries to recapture his war experience for his children, who discover that the true story can be found in the photography and moving images their father has left behind.

Three Songs About Liberation, directed by Cauleen Smith, 2017, 9 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “This is Not a Political Film…” Program by Greg de Cuir Jr. and Kevin Jerome Everson
This film draws parallels between the American Civil Rights Movement and the fight for socialism during Russia’s October Revolution in 1917.

To Be Free, directed by Adepero Oduye, 2017, 40 min
NMAAHC – Narrative Short – Power of Place
Part of “Say Her Name” Program
This experimental black and white short meditates on the life of performer Nina Simone (Adepero Oduye). Set in a tiny after-hours club, the viewer observes Simone seeking a way, for one moment, to be free.

Tonsler Park, directed by Kevin Jerome Everson, 2017, 80 min
Invitational – Documentary Feature – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “This is Not a Political Film…” Program by Greg de Cuir Jr. and Kevin Jerome Everson
Tonsler Park observes, in black and white 16mm, the democratic process in action at Charlottesville, Virginia voting precincts over the course of Election Day, November 8, 2016.

Tower XYZ, directed by Ayo Akingbade, 2016, 3 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Making a Way Out of No Way
Part of “Remnants of a Dream” Program by Amir George
In this timely piece, accompanied by a lilting soundtrack, characters wander through London’s concrete jungle as the narrator reflects on the current state of the city and her imagined future.

Under Bone, directed by dana washington, 2017, 5 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Cultural Expressions
Part of “Black Radical Imagination” Program by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae
A narrated experimental-drama featuring ethereal vignettes linked by a woman’s devotion, grief, and ancestral evocation as she traverses stories beneath her rib cage and deep inside her soul.

Untitled (M*A*S*H), directed by Simone Leigh, 2018, 20 min
Invitational – Narrative Short – Power of Place
This short film depicts a fictive order of black nurses operating on the front of the Korean War. Like M*A*S*H—the long-running American TV show it parodies—the work showcases the agonizing choices faced by those who staffed the tented encampments of war.

Warrior Queen, directed by Hezekiah Lewis, 2008, 22 min
Invitational – Narrative Short – Power of Place
Part of “Say Her Name” Program
The true story of an African Queen named Nana Yaa Asantewaa and the events that led her to rise up against the British in the early 1900s.

When the Lionfish Came, directed by Tamika Galanis, 2016, 6 min
Invitational – Experimental & Animation – Power of Place
Part of “Diaspora Transcendentals” Program
A short illustration of disappearing Bahamian culture and sea life, the palpability of the absence of real climate change initiatives, and the continued pursuit of tourism, despite cultural decline.

The Smithsonian African American Film Festival is generously supported by Toyota, AARP, Netflix and Earl W. and Amanda Stafford. Join the online conversation by following #AAFilmFest.

About the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts
The Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts (CAAMA) showcases the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s dynamic image collection through changing exhibitions of still and moving images, publications and public programs. The CAAMA resource center and digital archive foster and support scholarship on the role, meaning and influence of images by and about African Americans and other people of African descent.

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed nearly 4.5 million visitors. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit nmaahc.si.edu, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat—or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

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