Define American Film Festival is Coming to Change Lives in Chicago

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Define American, the non-profit media and culture organization that uses the power of story-telling to touch on topics such as politics and identity in America, will bring its third annual Define American Film Festival (DAFF) to the Windy City! Announced by the organization itself, the festival will take place from April 20th to the 22nd at Venue SIX10, located in the posh Downtown Chicago.

Putting some of the nation’s most notable voices with local leaders and journalists in the same room, DAFF celebrates art and culture and tells the stories of an America that are often overlooked.

DAFF will host feature film screenings, panel discussions, virtual reality activations, and art installations to ignite in-depth conversations amongst festival-goers and online viewers around immigration, citizenship, race, and identity in today’s America. As the most populous state in the Midwest, Illinois is home to a multiracial and multiethnic immigrant population estimated at 1.8 million, 511,000 of whom are believed to be undocumented.

“DAFF 2018 will highlight the deep intersections between the immigrant rights movement and other critical issues of our time including women’s rights, criminal justice, and global migration,” says festival producer Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees, who oversees Define American’s creative initiatives team. “Our greatest desire is that the festival will spark conversations that may at times be uncomfortable, but are also vital to our country in this pivotal moment.”

Adds Define American Founder and CEO Jose Antonio Vargas: “Chicago is a living breathing example of the great American experiment, with over 180,000 undocumented immigrants. Since the great migration, it has been a capital in Black America and home to countless European immigrants. And in the 21st century, it has become home to nearly 2 million Latinos and more than a half-million Asians. But with nearly every demographic represented in the metro area’s makeup, this city is often still divided by race and class. Our goal is to bring these diverse communities together in a shared space and spark much-needed conversations.”

Prior to the festival, Define American will host a day-long convening for community leaders, activists and influencers focused on harnessing storytelling as an agent for widespread change.

Previous panelists have included civil rights icon Dolores Huerta; Cars 3’s Cristela Alonzo, the first Latina to star in a Pixar movie; Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life, The Hateful Eight); award-winning journalist and educator Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry; Academy Award nominee Chris Weitz (Star Wars: Rogue One, About A Boy); April Reign, the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign; Brittany Packnett, a leader in the #BlackLivesMatter movement; and actor Ian Nelson, who stars in the Hulu series There’s Johnny. Past sponsors include American Airlines, Google, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, Fusion, Univision, and MTV.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

About the author / 

Kelsey Stone

Chicago native with a passion for writing, music, and social justice. Creative, intelligent, and bold, but can be a little sophistaratchet sometimes.

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