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Department of Social Anthropology



Adam James Smith is a filmmaker and educator, holding degrees from Stanford and Cambridge. As an educator, he teaches subject matter as varied as digital filmmaking, the history and power of storytelling, Chinese cinema, and media entrepreneurship. His filmmaking practice spans rural and urban environments across China, Japan, and the United States. His first feature film, The Land of Many Palaces, on the Chinese "ghost city" of Ordos, participated in the Sundance Institute workshop and premiered at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The film then went on to screen at festivals around the world, picking up awards in Moscow, Rome, and Kyoto. Adam also embarked on an academic tour in North America, screening at Harvard, Columbia, Duke, Stanford, the Asia Society, and many more universities and organizations.

His follow-up film, Americaville, on the Chinese replica of Jackson Hole, Wyoming was sponsored by the Whicker's Foundation and the Asian Cinema Fund. The film was released in 2020 and has since been screened around the world at festivals and universities.

Adam is currently working on a series of short, observational documentary films showcasing the diversity of the American experience beyond the East and West coasts and outside the large cities, titled The Heartland Project. The first in the series depicts cowboy culture at Okmulgee Invitational - the longest-running black rodeo in the United States. Adam is also working on a documentary remake of the 2003 Sophia Coppola film Lost in Translation, involving tourists in Tokyo reenacting scenes and frames from the original film for their social media accounts. 

Affiliated Filmmaker, Visual Anthropology Lab
 Adam James Smith

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