Film Festival Highlights

Post screening discussion on Film: Take This Hammer (Photo: Anthony Wright/NMAAHC)

The Smithsonian African American Film Festival presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture is underway. 

An inaugural event, the Festival is a unique four-day cinematic experience celebrating African American visual culture and film.

The Red Carpet

Quincy Jones poses on the red carpet

The incomparable Quincy Jones stops by the Festival's red carpet at the screening of his documentary, Quincy.

Stephan James, Kiki Layne and Regina King glowing on the red carpet at the screening of If Beale Street Could Talk.

Film Screenings

The Festival showcases historical and contemporary media works that encompass the African American experience in a setting designed to foster engagement among filmmakers, scholars, and the public.

Featured films range from works within the Museum’s collections to “black classics,” and newly created films by emerging filmmakers. Post Screening Conversations immediately follow film screenings providing the opportunity to hear from the filmmakers, cast, and crew.

Festival Participants Attend Film Screening

Festival Participants Gather in NMAAHC's Oprah Winfrey Theater for Film Screening

Gilda Screening Discussion

Producers, cast and crew discuss film: Gilda

Black Panther Costume Exhibit 

We were honored to have on display for the first time the Black Panther’s hero costume, worn by Chadwick Boseman.

"Part of the Museum's mission is to be able to tell dynamic stories that really showcase strength and bravery and resilience and creativity and talent and fortitude. And I think that this costume, like so many objects in the museum, symbolizes that."

- Rhea Combs
NMAAHC Curator of Photography and Film

  • Black Panther costume - upper body
    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company
  • Black Panther Costome - Collar
    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company
  • Black Panther Costume - Right Arm / Chest
    Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company

Master Classes

Master Class instructors will share examples from their work as a basis for discussing best practices in their specialized fields. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with instructors, to receive critical insights that directly relate to their individual projects.

Exchanges

Exchanges are open forums to share ideas about film production and the archive of the moving image. 

Inventor, artist and computer scientist, John Henry Thompson leads Exchange entitled Code Switch: Technology and Video Art.

Inventor, artist and computer scientist, John Henry Thompson leads Exchange entitled Code Switch: Technology and Video Art.

Winners of the Juried Competition Film Awards

Over 225 films were submitted for consideration in the Festival's Film Awards, and 15 films were a part of this year’s competition. The top honors were presented to:

  • Narrative Feature – Alaska Is a Drag, directed by Shaz Bennett
  • Narrative Short – Where the Water Runs, directed by DuBois N. Ashong
  • Documentary Feature – United Skates, directed by Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown
  • Documentary Short – Black 14, directed by Darius Clark Monroe
  • Experimental and Animation – Give, directed by David de Rozas
  • Audience Award – Respect and Love, directed by Angelique Webster

NMAACH Team in Action

NMAAHC Team Prepares to Assist Festival Participants

Socially Speaking

Recent social posts on the Smithsonian African American Film Festival.

Curator Damon Thomas with Black Panther's Chadwick Boseman

Our Favorite Quotes from Film: Say Her Name

Film Festival Honoree Charles Burnett

Film Festival Honoree Madeline Anderson

#AAFilmFest

Film Festival Recap

Twitter Moment

Instagram Stories

Through film, African Americans have fought against stereotypes and captured the beauty and complexity of the Black experience, our collective ingenuity, and undisputed resilience. Like the 40,000 objects in the Museum's permanent collection, the Film Festival will continue the tradition of great storytelling that is steeped in history, is culturally profound, and reveals the range of human spirit.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director & Kinshasha Holman-Conwill, Deputy Director National Museum of African American History and Culture