Define American Film Festival

Define American is coming to Chicago, IL for our 3rd annual Define American Film Festival (DAFF).

Join us Friday, April 20 through Sunday, April 22 for film screenings, panel discussions, stand-up comedy, virtual reality experiences, and more.

DAFF explores how movements for equity and freedom ultimately rely on one another. We invite you to discover ways in which we all intersect.

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Apr 20

Immigrants in Entertainment

April 20th 7:00 PM — 8:30 PM
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Bambadjan Bamba (Marvel's Black Panther), Nico Santos (NBC's Superstore), Rafael Agustín (The CW's Jane the Virgin), and more TBA discuss representation of immigrants and immigration in entertainment, and being an immigrant in Hollywood. Preceded by the short film The Drop In.

An opening night reception with a DJ and complimentary beer and wine will follow immediately afterward.

Apr 21

Bisbee '17

April 21st 1:00 PM — 4:00 PM
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Directed by Robert Greene
124  min / 2017 / English and Spanish with subtitles
Follow characters in Bisbee, Arizona, an old copper-mining town just miles from the Mexican border, as they struggle to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the infamous Bisbee Deportation, where 1200 striking miners were violently taken from their homes, banished to the middle of the desert, and left to die. Townspeople confront this misunderstood past by staging dramatic re-creations of the escalating strike. These dramatized scenes are based on subjective versions of the story and “directed,” in a sense, by residents with conflicting views of the event. Deeply personal segments torn from family history build toward a massive re-staging of the deportation itself on the exact day of its 100th anniversary.
"A near-masterpiece." – Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Preceded by the short film The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets.

Apr 21

The Women's Movement: Where do we go from here?

April 21st 5:00 PM — 6:30 PM
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Paola Mendoza, Artistic Director of the Women's March, leads a panel conversation with Ai-jen Poo, Michaela Angela Davis, and more TBA on female empowerment in light of the Time's Up and #MeToo movements. How are women's voices changing our country, and what's next?

Preceded by the short films #BlackLivesMatter, Pussy Power, and The Bamboo Ceiling.

Apr 22

This Is Home

April 22nd 1:00 PM — 3:15 PM
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Directed by Alexandra Shiva
91 min / 2018 / English and Arabic with subtitles

An intimate portrait of four Syrian families arriving in Baltimore, Maryland and struggling to find their footing. With eight months to become self-sufficient, they must forge ahead to rebuild their lives. When the travel ban adds further complications, their strength and resilience are put to the test.

Winner: World Cinema Documentary Audience Award, 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Preceded by the short film  Disintegration 93-96.

Apr 22

Comedy Night at DAFF

April 22nd 5:30 PM — 8:00 PM
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Presented in partnership with The Second City and the Harold Ramis Film School, Comedy Night at DAFF will feature performances by Tamer Kattan, Zahra Noorbakhsh, Felonious Munk, and more TBA.


The Drop In

13 min / 2017 / English, Directed by Naledi Jackson

On a night like any other, Joelle is closing up her hair salon when a mysterious visitor appears asking too many questions about her citizenship. Nothing is what it seems in this fierce and stylish genre-bending allegory on immigration and belonging. Precedes the Immigrants in Entertainment panel conversation.


12 min / 2017 / English, Directed by Carey Williams

Faced with an emergency situation, a group of young Black and Latino friends carefully weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.

Drive Slow

13 min / 2017 / English, Directed by Terrence Thompson

A teenager from the South Side of Chicago attempts to finish his college essays and struggles to boil down his complex surroundings in 500 words, while his friends’ disparate opinions, racist news narratives, and the threat of lingering danger complicate the process.

#BlackLivesMatter / Pussy Power / The Bamboo Ceiling

16 min / 2016 / English, Directed by Shauna Siggelkow

Stories of strong women – in social justice, in Latino culture, and in Silicon Valley. Precedes the Women’s Movement panel conversation.

The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets

10 min / 2017 / English, Directed by Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, and Jackson Polys

An urgent reflection on indigenous sovereignty, the undead violence of museum archives, and postmortem justice through the case of the “Kennewick Man,” a prehistoric Paleo-American man whose remains were found in Kennewick, Washington, in 1996. Precedes Bisbee ’17.

Disintegration 93-96

5 min / 2017 / English and Tagalog with subtitles, Directed by Miko Revereza

The personal insecurities and pent-up emotions of an undocumented Filipino immigrant to the USA give way to political ruminations and critical commentaries on the colonization of the mind by the American Dream. Precedes This Is Home.



Venue SIX10
610 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

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A festival pass guarantees you access to every event – all film screenings, all standalone panel discussions, our opening night reception, and our closing comedy night. Individual tickets will become available as programming is announced.

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We are pleased to offer a 15% discount off the best available rate at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. To take advantage of this offer, please visit and use the promo code CAASPECIALEVNT when booking.

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Celebrity Guests

Learn about the esteemed panelists, comedians and guests of the 3rd annual Define American Film Festival in Chicago.

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Be the very first to learn about film selections and celebrity guests.

Define American Brings Undocumented Art Show to Film Festival

Why Define American Chose Chicago

Define American Announces Partnership with Chicago Comedy Powerhouses for Comedy Night

Define American Announces Panel On Women’s Empowerment in the wake of the #TimesUp & #MeToo Movements

at DAFF!

Volunteers will receive free tickets to all screenings and an invitation to exclusive programming.

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“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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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


If for any reason the cost of attending DAFF is prohibitive, or if a disability will affect your festival experience, please contact us at [email protected]. We will do our best to accommodate you.