Mark your calendars and join us October 24 - 27, 2018 for our inaugural film festival.

The 2018 Inaugural Smithsonian African American Film Festival will showcase historical and contemporary media works highlighting black experiences in America.  Programming will include a wide range of film screenings, engaged discussions with filmmakers and film scholars, as well as presentations and masterclasses on filmmaking, editing, storytelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is NMAAHC hosting a film festival?

The Smithsonian African American Film Festival aims to showcase historical and contemporary time-based media works which engage with the African American and African diasporic experience by providing a space that fosters engagement between filmmakers, scholars, and the public.

What can visitors to the festival expect to see?

The four-day festival will consist of film screenings, masterclasses, panel discussions, and special events. Information will be updated on the festival’s website.

How many films will be shown?

Over 60 films will be presented during the festival, this includes films from the juried competition, invited films, and films from our collection.

How will the films be judged?

Each film will be reviewed by a jury of three to five industry professionals and experts and asked to name the best film in each competition category on the basis of:  Overall Impact and appeal to SAAFF Audience; Writing/Story; cinematography and editing; relevance to festival themes and Museum’s mission; and special consideration for innovative use of storytelling or use of technology.  

Where will proceeds from the festival go?

Proceeds from the festival will go to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

When will the jury be announced?

The jury will be announced to the public when the winning films are announced.

Will the festival comply with the Smithsonian’s accessibility standards?

Yes, the festival will make every reasonable effort to make works accessible. However, film is an artistic medium and the filmmaker’s choices may impede accessibility.

Is the festival appropriate for children or younger visitors?

Smithsonian’s programming is intended for a broad audience of all ages; do not submit films that are pornographic or blatantly sexually explicit, defamatory/false/deceptive, appear to be advertising or partisan-political in nature, or promote violence, unlawful activities, or tobacco. The Smithsonian reserves the right to disqualify submissions it deems inappropriate under these guidelines.

Will Charter members receive a discount to attend the film festival?

No, there is no discount for charter members. Charter members will have the ability to register for tickets and passes prior to the general public.

Is there a student discount for entry fees?

Yes, students may submit at a discounted rate of $20 per submission by providing a scanned copy of a current and valid student ID card or a letter from an accredited school verifying the entrant’s enrollment. A PDF or JPG file of this scan must be submitted through Festival's online entry form at the time of submitting the film in order to qualify.

Is there a student discount for film festival tickets?

Yes, there will be a discounted rate for students. Information for passes will be available early Summer.

Do members of the military receive discounted tickets?

Yes, there will be a discounted rate for military. Information for passes will be available early Summer.

How much are film festival tickets?

Information for passes will be available early Summer.

Can I purchase a ticket for a single event, or do I have to buy a package?

Yes, information for passes will be available early summer.

How do I get media credentials?

Media credentials will be issued by the Museum’s Office of Public Affairs.

When will you begin credentialing media for the film festival?

Credentialing will begin in the weeks leading up to the festival. Please check back for more information.

Can Smithsonian staff submit a film to the festival?

No, Smithsonian staff, contractors, and volunteers are not eligible to submit films for the juried competition. 

Can Smithsonian staff attend the festival at a discount?

Yes, SI staff can attend the festival at a 15% discount.

Can Smithsonian staff volunteer? Who is the volunteer point of contact?

Yes, SI staff can volunteer for the festival. Please send an email to with the subject-line “Film Festival Volunteer.”