Define American Film Festival


Our annual hashtag celebrates the resilience and joy of American immigrant families.

Thank You Chicago

Your support made the 3rd annual Define American Film Festival
a success. Thank you to our guests, filmmakers, panelists and
performers who created a new, more welcoming conversation
about immigrants and American identity.

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Panel Discussion Livestreams

Representation matters. The Define American Film Fest presents a conversation with Bambadjan Bamba (Marvel’s Black Panther), Nico Santos (NBC’s Superstore), Rafael Agustín (The CW’s Jane The Virgin), and Reshma Shetty (USA’s Royal Pains) on immigrant narratives in Hollywood.

White nationalism is rising but we can resist. How do we Define American? Jose Antonio Vargas, Mony Ruiz-Velasco, and Maria Hinojosa talk immigration and our changing America following the screening of Bisbee ‘17.

Women are making history by activating their families and communities to create transformative social change. Live from the Define American Film Fest, Paola Mendoza leads a conversation on what’s next for the Women’s Movement.

Both Black Americans and immigrants are targeted by the prison industrial complex. Define American Film Fest explores what’s happening in the U.S. today live from Chicago.

In 2016, the U.S. resettled 15,479 Syrian refugees. The next year, 3,024. This year, 11. Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American leads the conversation on the global migration crisis live from the Define American Film Festival in Chicago.

“The Define American
Film Festival
runs on empathy.”

Marcus Ellsworth, MTV News
“All of these movies continue, or even start, nuanced conversations about what it means to be American.”

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Define American Film Festival
celebrates immigrants’ resilience

The festival is focused on issues of racial justice, immigrant rights and activism. Its goal is to take the issues revolving immigrants —documented and undocumented— and minorities, beyond the political scheme and show that they are part of “American society.”

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Reach and Impact

We’re proud that our festival starts real, difficult conversations among Americans. In 2016 and 2017, 100% of DAFF screenings were sold out (over 1,200 attendees each) – and many oversold. In 2017, over 500,000 viewers across the country tuned into our livestream with media partner NowThis. The post-screening discussion of the MTV documentary White People trended #1 nationally on Twitter, and the hashtag #DAFF reached over 1.7 million users on social media with nearly 9 million impressions. Our audience surveys reveal that 81% of DAFF attendees found the festival extremely entertaining, 84% found the topics and discussions very inspiring, and 72% said that the experience will change their actions in the future.

Learn More About DAFF