Gentrification, redlining, housing, fashion, architecture, sustainability, and art — and where these topics intersect — will be some of the many themes explored at the fifth annual Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF).
Kicking off Thursday, Jan. 26 with an open bar and film screening and wrapping up Sunday, Jan. 29 with a go-go brunch and pop-up art exhibit, the ADFF features four days packed with activities that allow guests to examine how design influences culture from the arts, to economics, to social justice issues. And with the event held in the nation’s capital, many of the features will be unapologetically D.C.-centric.
“First and foremost, D.C. is our own home and it’s important for us to tell the story of our community. And, more broadly, our mission is really telling the stories of the places that we live, play and work — our built environment,” said Jacquelyn Sawyer, vice president of Education and Engagement at the National Building Museum. “The way that people understand the built environment is through their local experience. So we want to tell local stories that have those national throughlines.”
Sawyer noted that while the museum gets visitors from around the nation and world yearlong, uplifting local artists remains a top priority — allowing for people to connect D.C. stories to their own communities.
“That’s what we’re hoping for, for this one festival,” Sawyer explained.
During the Thursday night kickoff, which boasts an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, will be a showing of “Alice Street,” a documentary about a mural that brought together artists, leaders and two neighborhoods, emphasizing the power of public art. After the film screening is a Q&A featuring director Spencer Wilkinson and community organizer Laila Sandra Huen.
Happy Hours will begin the fun on Friday and Saturday evening, with vendors from Little Minor Taco, Don Ciccio & Figli, Other Half Brewing and Silver Branch Brewing.
In addition to multiple films investigating international design, redlining and modern-day effects caused by discriminatory urban design, Friday evening includes a photography showcase featuring local artists James Singewald and Steven Cummings.
Saturday, sustainable fashion is the theme, with films, panels and a pop-up in the Great Hall with unique local vendors including Tribute Collective, Bitter Grace and Illicit Rag Vintage.
On Sunday funday, the National Building Museum will wrap ADFF programming with a go-go brunch that will feature tunes provided by celebrated band TOB and a pop-up exhibition with the work of photographer Dee Dwyer.
Dwyer said she jumped at the opportunity to showcase her work as part of the fifth annual ADFF.
“I was all game for it, especially when it comes to TOB being in the building. I’m a go-go girl, I love it,” said Dwyer.
The native Washingtonian photographer, who has also been called the “visual voice of the people,” will be offering a glimpse into the District’s vibrant, Black culture and communities.
“I’ll be showing some images from my Chocolate City documentation,” she said. “D.C. was coined that because of the high population of Black people, so I’ll be showcasing some of my images from my collection about Chocolate City.”
In addition to crunching from the brunching and cranking from the jamming, viewers will get a chance to view the critically acclaimed documentary “Barry Farm: Community, Land and Justice in Washington DC.”
Following the screening will be a Q&A with filmmakers Samuel George and Sabiyha Prince.
Tickets for one day or the entire festival can be purchased at nbm.org.
As VP of education and engagement, Sawyer said that the four-day festival is a “choose your own adventure,” event.
“We hope you join us for all four days, because all four days are different, all four days are going to bring their own vibe, and we want to share that with everyone.”