March on Washington Film Festival 2022 Celebrates Theater and Film Legends, Advances Civil Rights with “STORY, STAGE & SCREEN”.

March on Washington Film Festival 2022 Celebrates Theater and Film Legends, Advances Civil Rights with “STORY, STAGE & SCREEN”.

Rep. Barbara Lee to Receive John Lewis Lifetime Legacy Award; Director George C. Wolfe and Groundbreaking Publicist Irene Gandy Honorees.

Horizon, The Defenders, Acting While Black, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back and A Choice of Weapons to Screen.

Inaugural Meta Virtual Reality Lab and Fellowship Artists Announced.

(Washington, D.C.) – August 25, 2022 –– The March on Washington Film Festival (MOWFF) announced its 2022 Festival theme of STORY, STAGE & SCREEN for its 10th Anniversary season, to be held September 28 – October 2. In its 10th Anniversary year, the Festival celebrates African American legends of theater and film who have advanced civil rights with films, discussion panels, a theatrical performance, student competitions, and the first-ever VR Equity Lab & Fellowship in the Nation’s Capital. WIth a true hybrid format, all films and most other Festival programs can also be streamed online.

This year, MOWFF will honor director George C. Wolfe, who won the Tony Award for Angels in America (and whose upcoming film, Bayard Rustin, celebrates the life and work of this gay rights legend) and pioneering publicist/producer Irene Gandy, a two-time Tony Award-winner. 

MOWFF will also bestow the John Lewis Lifetime Legacy Award to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a founding member and a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus and the Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. Led by a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, the March on Washington Film Festival is committed to highlighting stories at the intersection of racial and LGBTQIA+ justice.

“Celebrating the movement’s icons and foot soldiers and the changemakers of today remains at the heart of our festival,” said Isisara Bey, MOWFF Artistic Director, “The combined accomplishments of our honorees, and the impact of the stories in our films, theatrical performance, panelists and the projects of the next generation in our film and monologue competitions and VR Equity Lab, could not be more essential to inspiring activism dedicated to equity for all.” 

The Festival comprises virtual and in-person events at Union Market’s Dock 5, Eaton Workshop and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Over the course of five days, MOWFF 2022 programming will feature scores of films, conversations, a special theatrical performance and executive arts roundtable, and a variety of special programs geared for educators and students. 

Tickets on sale at

For a decade, MOWFF has used film as a platform for panel discussions featuring filmmakers, academics, and activists. It also features performances by artists, exhibits and workshops to bring together an audience diverse in age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. This year’s slate of films is leveraged to share stories as yet untold. All of the Festival’s programs promote thoughtful discussion of present-day social justice and equity issues that are shaped by our collective history of civil rights. 

MOWFF is also committed to serving as an educational resource and learning center for storytellers in the areas of social justice, racial equity, and civil rights. “We aim to provide real-world platforms for the changemakers of tomorrow, both at Festival time and throughout the year,” says Festival founder Robert Raben. “This year, In addition to showcasing our Student and Emerging Filmmaker competition winners and their work, MOWFF will present projects from the Meta Virtual Reality Equity Lab & Fellowship.This first-of-its-kind program iis providing virtual reality tutelage to storytellers historically underrepresented in cutting-edge immersive technologies.”

MOWFF is made possible with the generous support of Official Sponsors Meta and Mellon Foundation; Gala Presenting Sponsors Tiffeny Sanchez and Reg Brown; Contributing Sponsor Yahoo; Benefactors AARP, AT&T, Craig Emanuel, Eleanor Friedman, Endeavor, Google, InterDigital, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kitty Kelley, Mastercard, ServiceNow, Walmart, and WarnerMedia; Advocates College Board, Eaton Workshop, EDENS, Fred Hochberg, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Renaissance Charitable Foundation, and Total Wine & More; Hosts Anthony D. Coley, Arena Stage, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Sponsors Nancy Zirkin, Samara Foxx, and Unifrance; Individuals A’Lelia Bundles and Joanne Kathleen Lawler; as well as Official Media Sponsor Variety and Media Sponsor Outfront Media. 

About the March on Washington Film Festival

Founded in 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, the March on Washington Film Festival (MOWFF), now in its 10th year, is a civil rights and social justice legacy project. This annual storytelling experience focuses on illuminating the untold events and unsung heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement and inspiring renewed passion for activism. By leveraging the power of film, music, scholarship, and the arts, the Festival shares important and influential stories to connect the past, present, and future in the fight toward social change in America and throughout the world.For information about MOWFF, visit:

The full program includes:

Live Events

OPENING NIGHT GALA | Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022

Union Market Dock 5, 1309 5th St. NE, Washington, D.C. 

The Festival’s Opening Night event honors visionary leaders in the fight for civil rights. This year we celebrate the achievements of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Broadway producer Irene Gandy, and director and playwright George C. Wolfe. The evening will be hosted by Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post contributor and host of The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC. This highly anticipated event welcomes 300 leaders of industry, the media, and multiple members of Congress. Special guests Congressman James E. Clyburn and Jeffrey Wright will present awards to the honorees.

Signature Event: The Mississippi Defenders | Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022

Union Market Dock 5, 1309 5th St. NE, Washington, D.C. 

They were few in number, with limited resources, and lost more cases than they won during the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. With the country’s conscience pricked by images of violence against marchers in the news, hundreds of lawyers from around the country became inspired to work in Mississippi…and ultimately transformed the state’s legal infrastructure. 

Following a screening of the documentary, The Defenders, we’ll meet a few of these brave attorneys, many of whom still fight for civil rights today.

7:00 p.m. – 7:45 pm The Defenders Screening

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 pm Panel Discussion

Signature Event: March On the World – Acting While Black | Friday, Sept. 30, 2022

Eaton Workshop, 12th & K St. NW, Washington, D.C.

Racially stereotypical roles, underdeveloped storylines– some say “French Cinema is a dinosaur refusing to die or change.” But now, actors, directors, journalists and activists are speaking out and changing the faces and stories portrayed on screen. 

We’ll view Rokhaya Diallo’s acclaimed documentary Acting While Black, followed by a conversation with a spotlight on a legendary filmmaker. 

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 pm Acting While Black: Blackness on French Screens 

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 pm Panel Discussion

10:00 p.m. – 11:30 pm La Grande Fête, post event dance party


Rokhaya Diallo, journalist, Washington Post Opinion Writer and filmmaker (Steps Toward Liberty, Not Your Mama’s Movement), Dr. Imani Cheers, Associate Professor, George Washington University. Moderated by Maboula Soumahoro, author, Afro-feminist, and Associate Professor, English, University of Tours, France. 

La Grande Fête

Join us for a dance party of West African music with a live DJ at Wild Days, the rooftop garden at Eaton Workshop following the screening and discussion. 

Closing Event: American Prophet | Sunday, Oct 2, 2022 | 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. NW, Washington, D.C.

Fresh from its successful run at Arena Stage, and serving as our closing event, we present a live performance of excerpts from this “beguiling” and “exquisitely sung” (The Washington Post) new American musical. American Prophet is powered by the life and words of 19th century writer, orator and racial justice fighter, Frederick Douglass. 

Co-written and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright(Motown: The Musical) and Grammy Award-winner Marcus Hummon. 

State of American Theater – The Executives’ Roundtable

The performance of American Prophet will be followed by a stimulating roundtable conversation with the guiding creative and administrative lights of some of America’s most prominent regional theaters. 


Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer, Apollo Theater, Harlem, NY

Maria Manuela Goyanes, Artistic Director, Wooly Mammoth Theater, Washington, D.C. 

Jamil Jude, Artistic Director, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Atlanta, GA

Molly Smith, Artistic Director, Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

Moderated by Donna Walker-Kuhne, writer (Invitation to the Party), educator, community engagement strategist, and founder, Walker International Communications Group. 

2:00 p.m. – 2:50 pm Live Performance ( In Person Only) 

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 pm The Executives’ Roundtable

Films & Special Presentations

Horizon (2022) DIR: Emilie Carpenter; 88 min.

Like most of her friends in the housing projects outside Paris, eighteen-year-old Adja’s focus is on having fun and getting through the days at her internship. But a fight over the farmland at the foot of her housing estate keeps encroaching on her carefree life: the government plans to evict the farmers from their land to build the biggest leisure complex in Europe. A group of activists have occupied the farmland and turned it into a ZAD, a zone to defend from environmentally reckless expansion. Adja and her influencer friend Sabira joke that the activists are tree-hugging hippies, but Adja can’t deny how she feels about Arthur, a farmer’s son on the front lines of the fight. While writer-director Emilie Carpentier captures our attention—and emotions—with a charming tale of first love between two young people from different backgrounds, her real subject here is the dawning of political and social awareness at the cusp of maturity. In capturing Adja’s gradual decision to step up and fight for her future, she pays tribute to the courage of a generation for whom the fight for environmental justice is an urgent matter of survival.

A Choice of Weapons (2021) | DIR: John Maggio; 90 min.
“Among the best films….I’ve seen this year,”(Matt Fagerholm,, this “great achievement” explores the enduring legacy of photographer, writer, composer, activist, and filmmaker Gordon Parks, and spotlights his visionary work and its impact on artists working today. Gordon’s legacy comes to life through three contemporary photographers: Devin Allen, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Jamel Shabazz. The film celebrates the power of images in advancing racial, economic, and social equality as seen through the lens of Gordon Parks, one of America’s most trailblazing artists, and the generation of young photographers, filmmakers, and activists he inspired.

The Defenders (2021) | DIR: Roderick Red; 39:33 min.

Lawyers representing black Mississippians, few in number and with limited resources, lost more than they won during the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. But with the country’s conscience pricked by violent images, hundreds of lawyers became inspired to work in Mississippi, transforming the legal infrastructure of the state.

Acting While Black: Blackness on French Screens (2021) | DIR: Rokhaya Diallo; 

59:28 min.
Where are the Black people in French cinema? Directed by one of France’s “most prominent anti-racism activists” (The New York Times), this film poses a seemingly simple question, and yet …one that most people couldn’t answer. They are just able to quote Omar Sy, a real media phenomenon, the first Black to obtain, in 2012, the prestigious César for best actor. This simple fact shows how problematic the question of the representation of society in all its diversity is today. Under-representation, stereotypical roles, discrimination during castings, on sets and during promotional campaigns … the French film and television industry still struggles to integrate “people perceived as non-white” into the shared story and the collective imagination that it produces.

Ferguson Rises (2021) | DIR: Mobolaji Olambiwonnu; 88 min.

SYNOPSIS: Ferguson Rises is the inspiring story of the residents of Ferguson, Missouri, a small town that suffered a powerful loss and became the flash point for a modern day civil rights movement.

Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back (2019) | DIR: John Carluccio; 92 min.

SYNOPSIS: This “long overdue portrait of a fabulous performer” (Hollywood Reporter) is an intimate portrait of a trailblazing African American entertainer who navigates the highs and lows of his lengthy showbiz career, and a complex relationship with his superstar brother, Gregory Hines.

Mankiller (2017 | DIR: Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, 74 min.

This “must-see documentary” (Vogue) is the story of an American legend, Wilma Mankiller, who overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation’s first woman Principal Chief in 1985. Mankiller examines the legacy of the formidable Wilma Mankiller and reunites the documentary team of Gale Anne Hurd and Valerie Red-Horse Mohl for their third and most powerful film. The film reminds audiences of the true meaning of servant leadership and serves as a wake-up call to take action for positive change

The StoryCorp Suite

Our friends at StoryCorp, the national nonprofit organization specializing in the art of interviewing and preserving humanity’s stories, have shared several dazzling selections from their animated short films collection. Each one tells a story of ordinary people, from different generations and regions, in their own voices and enlivened with animation, about their experiences of racial, religious, economic or gender discrimination on their lives, and how they faced it.

Special Presentations 

Five Pivotal Films of the Past Century

A study of five films, starting in the 1930s to the present, with significance to the Black and American cultural story. Presented by Wil Haygood, journalist and author, The Butler: A Witness to History, and Colorization: One Hundred years of Black Films in a White World

The Forgotten Story of Nearest Green 

From the birthplace of Tennessee whiskey comes a lost-and found tale of the first African American Master Distiller on record. Through a short film starring Jeffrey Wright and a companion virtual interview, we learn the story of freed former slave Nathan “Nearest” Green; the young white man who made Green’s whiskey famous under his own brand, and the African American couple who have resuscitated Nearest’s distillery, his family and his legacy two centuries later. 

The Importance of Oscar Micheaux

An examination of the life, works and critical role in history of the pioneering African American filmmaker. Presented by Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Chair, African American and African Diaspora Studies Department, Columbia University

Tribute To The Honorable John Lewis

A dance performance, commissioned by the March on Washington Film Festival commemorating the life of the late Hon. John Lewis, a giant in the Pantheon of civil rights activists and American leaders. Choreographed, performed, and filmed by Jamar Roberts, resident choreographer, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Artist/Activist Development Programs

Student and Emerging Filmmaker Competitions | Saturday, October 1, 2022 | 10am

Eaton Theater, 12th and K Sts. NW, Washington, D.C.

Shortlist selections from winners of the nation’s largest competition for young filmmakers of color. 

Student Narrative Shorts


The Bond | Director: Jahmil Eady

Pregnant and incarcerated, Aria fights for her most precious connection against a system designed to isolate her. 

(USA, 16 MIN)

Words Between Phrases | Director: Ben Bernard

When a college student fights for the removal of a whipping post in his hometown, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities and his intrinsic biases. 

(USA, 20 MIN)

SHIKATA GA NAI “it cannot be helped| Director: Kevin Kodama

A fantasy romance set in the ruins of a Japanese American internment camp where a young couple attempts to reconcile their relationship as ghosts.

(USA, 11 MIN)

Student Documentary Shorts


Quarantine Kids | Directors: Bilal Motley, Bria Motley

Quarantine Kids tells the courageous story of 9 year old Bria Motley in her own words. Using previously recorded audio notes, home video and animation, Quarantine Kids is an honest, poignant, funny, and at times, heartbreaking testimony from a child’s point of view. (USA, 7 MIN)

#BlackAtSMU | Directors: Aysia Lane, Crislyn Fayson

#BlackAtSMU is an experimental documentary that uses an amalgamation of dramatic retellings, experimental explorations, and investigative interviews to explore a critical question: what is it like to be a Black student at a Predominantly White Institution? (USA, 34 MIN)

Healing in Color | Director: Nana Adwoa Frimpong

​​In a world where Black women are expected to be invulnerable to pain, five Black women confront their personal struggles and explore healing through art.

(USA, 24 MIN)

Emerging Narrative Shorts


Color | Director: Carly Rogers

A rookie officer must decide where her loyalties lie when her partner pulls his weapon on a black teen in her old neighborhood.

(USA, 8 MIN)

Thoughts Are Things | Director: Christopher Thomas Brown

Librarian Joshua Turner has made it his life’s work to inspire young people in his community with the power of books. When a medical emergency sends him to the hospital, those seeds of inspiration come full circle to save his life. 

(USA, 11 MIN)

Otis’ Dream | Directors: Jason & Blue

Follow Otis Moss, Sr. on election day 1946 through his day-long journey to cast his ballot in rural Georgia. Powerful, poignant, and prescient as today’s struggles with voter suppression multiply.

(USA, 15 MIN)

Emerging Documentary Shorts


Bad Hombrewood | Director: Guillermo Casarin

Through compelling interviews with creatives including Phil Lord, Lee Unkrich, and Guillermo Del Toro, and archival footage, Bad Hombrewood reveals the dark side of Hollywood’s history and the challenges Latinx filmmakers face while trying to succeed in the entertainment industry. 

(USA, 24 MIN)

Reclaiming Our Collective Strength | Director: Lori Webster Fore

The black church is alive and well. See our faith in action, as we organize the church to reclaim our collective strength on the frontlines of social justice.

(USA, 20 MIN)

When We Fight | Directors: Yael Bridge, Yoni Golijov

In the second largest school district in America, 98% of teachers voted to go on strike. When We Fight goes behind the picket lines to show how and why teachers strike. 

(USA, 30 MIN)

VR Equity Lab | Saturday, October 1, 2022 | 3pm

Eaton Workshop, 12th and K Sts. NW, Washington, D.C.

The inaugural Virtual Reality Equity Lab & Fellowship participants debut immersive new VR projects that advance civil rights goals. The artists selected for the previously announced 2022 VR Equity Lab and Fellowship are:

Lab Artists 

Michael Davis and Debbie Davis with Untitled Davis Project: depicting a young couple, committed to activism, at a crossroads decision as they find themselves the target of the Philadelphia police and city officials.

Michael Davis and Debbie Davis (b. Philadelphia) met in West Philadelphia in the summer of 1969 while playing a game of king ball during a block party festival. Debbie, uninterested and taken at the time, was pursued relentlessly by Michael. She eventually gave in and the two have been together ever since. They were separated while each served 40 years in prison as political prisoners due to their work with the MOVE 9 activist organization, and were reunited upon their release from prison in 2018. Together, Michael and Debbie operate a nonprofit ,The Seed of Wisdom Foundation, which Michael describes as “a family-based organization that encourages young people to be healthy and fit.” Michael and Debbie are graduates of the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their first film is “By Your Side. “

Derrick L. Middleton with Shape Up: Gay in the Black Barbershop (The Series): a spinoff series that takes viewers on a journey to barbershops from different countries in the African Diaspora, utilizing 360-degree video and animated interactive scenes to give viewers an immersive experience from the perspective of LGBTQ people who navigate these hetero-dominant spaces in NYC every day. 

Derrick L. Middleton (b. Harlem, New York) is a Black queer filmmaker, writer and actor. He uses filmmaking as a form of activism in the fight for human rights. He made his directorial debut with the documentary short “Shape Up: Gay in the Black Barbershop,” which premiered in 2016 at The White House and was awarded the Grand Prize for Emerging Documentary from the March on Washington Film Festival. It made history as the first film ever created about the experience of being an LGBTQIA+ person in the hypermasculine spaces that are the barbershops in Black communities. Derrick is a recent CUNY graduate receiving an M.A. in Human Rights, which he plans to use to further bridge the gaps between film, activism and academia.

Ellie Wen with Maybe it Began When You Were Born and the Sky Turned Orange: an intimate, personal, immersive VR experience in which the participant follows a mother’s climate change awakening and newfound sense of responsibility towards caring for the planet for future generations. Through archival imagery, animation, verite footage, letters to her child, and projections of the future, this piece takes us on a personal yet universal journey.

Ellie Wen (b. Hong Kong) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker from Hong Kong and Los Angeles. She began her career in Los Angeles where she produced numerous short films and narrative features. She has worked at CAA, CBS Films, and Super Deluxe in many aspects of film and television. Her documentaries have been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Short of the Week, SoulPancake, Starz, Vimeo Staff Pick, and screened at premier festivals around the world. Ellie is an alumna of Film Independent’s Project Involve fellowship program and SFFILM’s FilmHouse Residency Program. She holds an MFA degree in Documentary Film from Stanford University and currently lives and works in San Francisco. 

R. Kayeen Thomas with On Losing My Father: centers around a poem written after the passing of the poet’s father. This deeply personal and immersive VR experience will take lines from the poem and interpret them visually and audibly in a 360 format.

R. Kayeen Thomas (b. Batavia, NY) moved to DC at three and has been involved in the Washington, D.C arts scene since he was a teenager. He is an author, playwright and filmmaker. His first novel, Antebellum, won the Phyllis Wheatley Book Award and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Author. His films have screened in festivals including the DC Black Film Festival, the Bethesda Film Festival, the Richmond International Film Festival, and the March on Washington Film Festival. Kayeen is currently a Public Affairs Specialist and Multimedia Producer with the federal government. He has been married for 14 years to Monee Sconyers Thomas; he and his wife have two children, Zion Sarai Thomas and Weldon Kayeen Thomas.

Fellowship Artists:

Cara Page with The Psalm for Milledgeville: a fictional story of a Black woman spirit named “Hattie,” a mythical former patient and restless spirit still reconciling with her past and tied to the grounds of Central State Hospital. “Future,” an intergalactic Black ancestor, finds Hattie and, with the VR audience as witness, takes her home.

Cara Page (b. Brooklyn, NY) is a Black Queer Feminist cultural memory worker & organizer. She is founder of Changing Frequencies, a Black Queer Feminist led, abolitionist organizing project that designs cultural memory work to disrupt the harms of the Medical Industri

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