Immigration Film Fest Announces Its 2018 Film Program

Celebrating 5 years of fantastic films, the Immigration Film Fest (IFF) announces its 2018 film program.  Each year the festival seeks the best new films about immigrants and refugees worldwide. In October 2018 IFF will present more than 20 award-winning films featuring women protagonists and filmmakers. As part of the Washington DC International Cinema Series, the theme of this year’s film fest is Films Across Borders: Stories of Women.  

IFF will host a day of film and action on Saturday, October 27 at the Washington Ethical Society (WES). Opening the Festival at 2 pm is the historic immigrant rights documentary The Long Ride, by social activist and award-winning filmmaker Valerie Lapin Ganley. The 2017 film chronicles the 2003 immigrant workers rights freedom ride to Washington and follows the paths of social and civil rights activists as they continue to press for immigration reform.  A panel with Women Artists in Action for Immigrant Social Justice will follow the film. From 4:30 to 6:00 pm, two concurrent short film programs will showcase films about working women–Women’s Work:  Lights, Camera, ACTION , a program of 5 short dramas; and the best immigration films by student film makers–New Voices of Immigration: 8 Student Shorts. More than a dozen filmmakers and activists will be on hand to discuss the films and action steps that can be taken by YOU, the attending audience. A full listing of these films plus filmmakers and activists can be found at .

The DC premiere of the dramatic feature film The Immigrant by Sanja Zdjelar will be shown at 7:30 pm, following an Awards Reception with visiting filmmakers. The Immigrant, a 65-minute narrative feature, chronicles the life of a recent Bosnian Muslim immigrant to Boston, as she attempts to navigate confusing social, economic and cultural differences in her new home. Post-film, Ms Zdjelar, a Bosnian immigrant, will discuss the immigrant experience in America today with other immigrant film makers.

On Sunday, October 28, 2018, an “Invitation-Only” film program and interfaith discussion will be held at 4:30 pm at the Washington National Cathedral. This special event, for film fest supporters, congregational activists and immigrant and refugee workers, will be the culmination of our efforts to provide DC-area audiences with information and action steps for advocacy on behalf of vulnerable people worldwide who are being reviled and rejected for fleeing their homes.  

The Sunday program, Women’s Stories: In Our Own Words, tells real women’s stories in 5 short films by international women filmmakers. Watch the riveting personal testimony of women who fled from Afghanistan, Syria, Vietnam, Ireland, Myanmar, and Burundi. This interfaith program will feature clergy from national capital area congregations and a discussion of our faiths’ call to action for immigrant and refugee justice.  Due to the limited seating, this is by invitation-only and RSVP. You may request an invitation from your faith community or through the IFF website.

The IFF was launched in 2014 as an activity of the Washington Ethical Society’s Social Justice Committee — to entertain, educate and inspire action on behalf of immigrants and refugees by individual people and by congregations in the Washington DC region. Founders Patti Absher and Judith Johnson established IFF, recognized nationally as the premier annual film festival devoted to films about immigrants & refugees, and by immigrant filmmakers. Learn more at:

In its first four years, The IFF screened films at more than 25 churches, universities, and theatres in the region for over 4,500 attendees. The Immigration Film Fest gained dedicated non-profit community partners who promote the IFF on their social media and to their members. Some partners also host film screenings and/or provide volunteers and speakers for panels. IFF is allied with local, national, and international organizations advocating on behalf of immigrants and refugees. Representatives from those organizations will be on-site at the Washington Ethical Society at tables in an outdoor tent devoted to “Taking Action” on Saturday, October 27, 2018.

In 2017, we joined the Washington, D.C. International Cinema Series educational film consortium to amplify our mission and co-presented “2017 Films Across Borders: Stories of Migration” with the American University School of Communication and The National Gallery of Art; Embassy cultural programs of Spain, Mexico, Germany and France; the AFL-CIO’s DC LaborFest, and the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. 30+ films and shorts about immigration and refugees were shown at 11 venues.

We look forward to seeing you for the 2018 Immigration Film Fest!