February 1, 2018

Visual Arts Program of the Lewis Center for the Arts presents the Black Maria Film Festival

Renowned internationally touring festival brings seven short films to Princeton for screening

The renowned internationally touring Black Maria Film Festival will screen seven short works at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Art on Monday, February 26 at 4:30 p.m. Introduced by Festival Director Jane Steuerwald, the screening of short documentary, narrative, and animated films will take place in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street in Princeton. The event is free and open to the public.

character seated with stuffed heads

A still from filmmaker Joshua Tuthill’s animated short Black Dog, one of seven films to be screened at the Black Maria Film Festival at Princeton. Film still courtesy Joshua Tuthill

For 37 years the Black Maria Film Festival has been celebrating creativity and innovation in the moving-image arts. An annual, international juried competition of short works in all genres, the Festival is a project of the Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium, which also showcases the New Jersey Young Filmmakers Festival and the Global Insights Collection, an archive of films focusing on the environment, people with disabilities, international issues, and films with themes of social justice. Following the Festival’s annual premiere in February, it travels over the next 12 months across the U.S. and abroad.

“We’ve hosted the Black Maria Film Festival numerous times over the years, and it’s always been met with a really enthusiastic response from the students and community audiences,” said Su Friedrich, filmmaker and Professor of Visual Arts in the Lewis Center, who brought the Festival to Princeton. “The range of films is wonderful and surprising and, as someone who teaches and sees a lot of films, I’m introduced each time to fantastic works by new makers who I didn’t know about before and whose work I then begin to follow.”


Contigo (With You). Film still courtesy Daniel Boord and Luis Valdovino

The films that become the centerpiece of the Black Maria Film Festival honor the vision of Thomas Edison, New Jersey inventor and creator of the motion picture, whose studio, the “Black Maria,” was the world’s first. The Festival focuses on short films—narrative, experimental, animation, and documentary—including those that address issues and struggles within contemporary society such as the environment, public health, race and class, family, and sustainability. These juried works range from animation, comedy, and drama to the exploration of pure form in film and video and are the heart and soul of the festival.

woman in gown

Lady Eva. Film still courtesy Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu

The films being screened at Princeton include I Saw You Yesterday, a stream of consciousness exploration of characters and ideas suspended on a wall, who struggle to find a place and a story; Game, in which a new kid in town shows up at the high school boys basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression; Mickey’s Pets, the story of an underdog striving for victory and intending to do so in her own quirky style; Black Dog, which uses archival footage and stop-motion animation to tell the story of two brothers during the space race of the 1960’s; Lady Eva, in which a young transgender beauty contestant is given an ultimatum by her Mormon family; Contigo (With You), a waltz with family and tradition, based on a song written by one of the pioneers of conjunto music, Don Santiago Jiménez; and We Know Where You Live, in which a Mexican American couple moves into a trendy, gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood.

The other institutions hosting the Black Maria Festival Tour include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; University of the Arts in Philadelphia; University of Delaware; Bickford Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey; and the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Festival is based at New Jersey City University in New Jersey, not far from the site of “Black Maria,” Thomas Edison’s original film studio in West Orange. The studio received its name from Edison’s employees who thought the studio’s boxy shape and black tar paper covering resembled the so-called “black maria” police paddy wagons.

boy with basketball

Game. Film still courtesy Jeannie Donohoe

The Festival jurors for the 2018 tour include Henry Baker, who works in video, television, film, sound, print and interactive media, and is founder of BXB, a video company based in New York City whose clients include HBO, Cinemax, SONY, and Panasonic; and Margaret Parsons, curator of film and media programs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., who has also worked with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, American University, the National Archives, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, CINE, The Moving Image, and the Getty Trust’s experimental Art on Film in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium is supported by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and Tourism, The Charles Edison Foundation, New Jersey City University, and private and corporate donors. 

To learn more about this event and the Program in Visual Arts visit

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