The Smithsonian’s Mother Tongue Film Festival celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world over multiple days of free screenings and presentations in Washington, D.C. The festival is a public program of Recovering Voices, a pan-institutional collaboration.
Founded in 2016, the annual festival coincides with International Mother Language Day on February 21. A number of films remain available to view on the website throughout the year.
In 2023, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage co-organized this biennial academic conference that invited researchers, trainers, and Indigenous media-makers to share experiences and discuss the developments in Indigenous media across the Americas. To date, it is the only conference of its kind in the United States. The conference took place February 23 and 24 at the NYU Washington, DC, campus.
Recognizing film as a transformative tool for linguistic empowerment and cultural self-determination, the Center partnered with the Festival of Indigenous Australian Cinema and the Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac to present a first-of-its-kind film festival in Paris, France, as one of the flagship events of the first International Year Indigenous Languages.