The March on Washington Film Festival (MOWFF) was launched 10 years ago to honor the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. This year’s anniversary film festival will once again be an event to learn from veteran civil rights activists, hear new voices in the movement, and view films that captured America’s struggle for equality. The festival runs from Sept. 28-Oct. 2 under the theme “Story, Stage & Theme.”
“We’re looking at African Americans in film and theater over the past 100 years,” said Isisara Bey, MOWFF’s artistic director. “At the opening gala, we will honor those who have made great strides in film and theater in the African American creative community.”
Receiving MOWFF honors during the opening night gala on September 28 are Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif), producer and Broadway’s first Black publicist Irene Gandy, and director/playwright George C. Wolfe. House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC) will present Lee with the John Lewis Legacy Award, the same award he received last year. Honoring Gandy with a MOWFF Award will be Broadway costume designer Emilio Sosa, the current chairman of the American Theatre Wing Board of Trustees in New York City. Tony-, Golden Globe-, and Emmy-winning actor and native Washingtonian Jeffrey Wright will present the MOWFF Award to playwright/director George C. Wolfe. Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post contributor and host of “The Sunday Show” on MSNBC is the gala host.
Film Viewing and Competitions at MOWFF
There is a full menu of 20 films and emerging filmmaker shorts to be viewed by streaming from a viewer’s personal location during a specific window of availability. There are several in-person viewings and panel discussions spread over three Washington D.C. locations including Union Market Dock 5, Eaton Hotel, and Arena Stage.
On September 29, there’s an in-person viewing of “The Mississippi Defenders,” a short documentary about lawyers from around the country who traveled to Mississippi to help with civil rights cases. A panel discussion follows with Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change; NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, Vangela Wade, president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice; and filmmaker/producer Roderick Red. Panel moderator will be Paul Butler, a professor at Georgetown University and an MSNBC contributor. Concluding this program will be a performance by Rutha Mae Harris, an original member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Freedom Singers.
“Lawyers came from around the country looking at police responses to non-violent protests in the ‘60s,” Bey said. “They divided up cases so one office handled voting rights, another handled police arrests and brutality, and another handled civil rights cases.”
On September 30, “March on the World,” a regular MOWFF featured session will present an in-person viewing and discussion for “Acting While Black,” a documentary produced and directed by journalist Rokhaya Diallo. Her films have been presented at MOWFF in previous years.
“We look at the impact and how the civil rights movement continues to serve as a role model for racial justice movements in other parts of the world,” Bey said.
Also, MOWFF will recognize film shorts by young emerging filmmakers and a Virtual Reality Equity Lab & Fellowship will be presented in partnership with Meta, formerly Facebook. MOWFF is an ideal setting to connect activist work from the past to today’s social justice activism.
“Our stories, our strategies, our history, our very identity has been distorted. This film festival unearths the mistold and untold stories of the civil rights movement,” Bey said. “We correct them and add what is unknown to current-day events so our people and others can learn the things that we do today and the people we are today are because we stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone on before.”
For a complete MOWFF schedule and ticket information, go to https://www.marchonwashingtonfilmfestival.org