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Debuting this November in the Smithsonian’s groundbreaking ‘FUTURES’ exhibition at the historic Arts and Industries Building, a new series of commissioned short films will spotlight the extraordinary ways diverse communities across the U.S. are shaping their own more hopeful futures. Blending documentary, social activism, music, and poetry, “Futures We Dream” will feature new works by nine award-winning independent filmmakers, all created throughout 2020 and 2021 and all responding to a pivotal period of change and challenge in the country.
The project is a first of its kind partnership between the Smithsonian and the nationally acclaimed nonprofit The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, with Grammy Award-winning entertainment icon LL COOL J and Kevin Bright, the longtime executive producer and director of the TV show Friends, as co-chairs of the series.
On view through July 2022, “FUTURES” will be the first major building-wide exploration of the future on the National Mall and will temporarily reopen America’s oldest national museum for the first time in nearly two decades. The part-exhibition/part-festival will celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary with more than more than 150 objects, ideas, prototypes, and installations that fuse art, technology, design, and history to help imagine possible futures on the horizon.
To create “Futures We Dream,” each filmmaker partnered with a local grassroots organization, resulting in unique creative collaborations that uplift those facing some of the most pressing social justice issues across the U.S., including: healthcare, environment, Indigenous rights, youth incarceration, cultural heritage, immigration, and more. Filmmakers and community members worked together to articulate their vision for the future grounded in hope, resilience, and inspiration.
Films featured will be:
As a creative platform, all “Futures We Dream” films will be screened on a loop in a Rockwell Group-designed viewing space within the exhibition, and available on each filmmaker’s websites.
“‘Futures We Dream’ opens the aperture of our collective understanding, amplifying unheard perspectives across the breadth of America,” said Monica O. Montgomery, programming and social justice curator at the Arts and Industries Building. “The series answers the question, what do we dream of, by showcasing stories about everyday people making a difference and speaking truth to power with optimism, resilience, and pride of place.”
“Producing a film program for ‘FUTURES’ has been an extraordinary collaboration with the Smithsonian,” said Wendy Levy, executive director of The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture. “We share a commitment to a just and hopeful future, and this work at the intersection of art, technology, culture, and community.”
The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture is dedicated to promoting innovation and cultural impact for film, technology, and digital media. To create “Futures We Dream,” the filmmakers regularly gathered for Alliance-hosted virtual ‘labs’ offering connection and support through the creative process.
“We wanted to model a possible future film industry that is less hierarchical and more caring and equitable,” Levy said. “The result is eight intentional works of art—powerful, futuristic, delightful evocative—co-created by a network of artists deeply embedded in their communities.”
“Futures We Dream” is made possible by Kevin S. Bright and Claudia W. Bright, with in-kind support from LG.
Designed by architect David Rockwell and his award-winning firm Rockwell Group, “FUTURES” will introduce nearly 32,000 square feet of new immersive site-specific art installations, interactives, working experiments, inventions, speculative designs and “artifacts of the future,” as well as historic objects and discoveries from 23 of the Smithsonian’s museums and research centers. “FUTURES” will also showcase stories of future-makers who are working tirelessly towards a more equitable, peaceful and sustainable world—inventors and creators, activists and organizers—with a special focus on communities who may not have always had a voice in future-making. Visitors will be able to glimpse how past visions have shaped where we are today, as a way to shape their own version of humanity’s next chapter.
A mobile “FUTURES” Guide by award-winning firm Goodby Silverstein & Partners will launch late summer 2021 in advance of the exhibition opening. A full slate of dynamic, future-forward performances, pop-ups, virtual events, workshops and late-night experiences will also be announced.
“FUTURES” is made possible by a select group of partners and supporters: Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, Bell Textron Inc., Jacqueline B. Mars, John and Adrienne Mars, the Embassy of the State of Qatar, David M. Rubenstein and SoftBank Group. Major support is also provided by Accenture, the Annenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Robert Kogod. Additional funding is provided by John Brock III, Wendy Dayton, Charlie and Nancy Hogan, the Suzanne Nora Johnson and David Johnson Foundation and Lyda Hill Philanthropies.