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5 Things You Can’t Miss at the March on Washington Film Festival

The festival spotlights the "mistold, undertold, or never-told" stories of the civil rights movement.

Watch "We Are The Radical Monarchs" and then hear from the director at the March on Washington Film Festival. Photograph by Linda Goldstein Knowlton.

The March on Washington Film Festival brings stories of the civil rights movement to the big screen from Sunday, September 22 to September 29. In addition to the screenings, the sixth annual showcase features panels, exhibits, and discussions exploring activism.

Founder Robert Raben started the festival in 2013 because the “history around the Civil Rights era and black people and contributions that were made [are] either mistold, undertold, or never told,” says the festival’s executive director Samantha Abrams. Here are some of the events shining a spotlight on those stories.

Sisters That Swing!
Monday, September 23 at 7 PM
Jam out to vintage music videos from performers like Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, and Lena Horne. Film archivist Stuart Hudgins spent a decade curating the collection and will be answering questions about the musicians. “These women set the tone for other women to be successful,” says Abrams. Eaton DC (1201 K St., NW); Free. 

She Lied: Carolyn Bryant and the Murder of Emmett Till 
Tuesday, September 24 at 7 PM
Almost 65 years after the murder of Emmett Till, the festival is holding a panel with three historians to explore how Till’s death still resonates today. “What is it doing to communities, especially communities of color, when we’re seeing this thing that happened so very long ago, that we thought we had overcome, and its clear that we haven’t?” says Abrams. Jack Morton Auditorium (805 21 St., NW); $10. 

Traveling While Black: A Virtual Reality Activation
Wednesday, September 25 at 1 PM
Slide on a virtual reality headset for an immersive film about traveling in America while black. The movie starts with the Green Book guide (yes, just like the Mahershala Ali movie) and takes passengers on a journey through time. Register in advance to reserve a time slot with the headsets. Jack Morton Auditorium (805 21 St., NW); Free. 

We Are The Radical Monarchs
Thursday, September 26 at 6:30 PM
This documentary follows the formation of the Radical Monarchs, an Oakland-born alternative to the Girl Scouts for girls of color where members earn badges for social justice work. Stay tuned after the film to hear from director Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Radical Monarchs co-founder Anayvette Martinez, and program graduate Lupita MartinezEaton DC (1201 K St., NW); $5-$10.

Emerging and Student Filmmaker Competition
When: Saturday, September 28 at 10 AM
The showcase features competition finalists for narrative and documentary films focused on the Civil Rights era and social justice movements. This year’s contest saw over 150 applicants from 11 countries. “What we share does not remain in that room,” says Abrams. “It has legs and it grows and it grows big.” Eaton DC (1201 K St., NW); Free.

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Michaela Althouse
Editorial Fellow

Michaela Althouse is an editorial fellow for the Washingtonian. Her previous work has been featured in Philadelphia Magazine and Technical.ly.