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Akosua Adoma Owusu

Akosua Adoma Owusu (she/her)

Assistant Professor of Film

  • Media, Journalism, Film & Communication
  • School of Communications


Akosua Adoma Owusu is a filmmaker, producer, and educator. Her cinematic essays and experimental films address the collision of identities, where the African immigrant located in the United States has a "triple consciousness". Owusu’s work has been screened extensively at festivals and venues worldwide including the New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Locarno International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival, CCA Wattis Institute, Flaherty Seminar, Studio Museum in Harlem, Anthology Film Archives, MoMA, and African Film Festival, Inc. in New York. In 2015, she was named by IndieWire as one of the 6 pre-eminent “Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema”.

Owusu’s films have been covered by ARTFORUMFreizee-flux journalBlack Camera, Film Comment, and the International Review of African American American Art. Her film KWAKU ANANSE (2013) was well-received at Berlinale Shorts. It won the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Award and was selected for the 59th Venice Biennale. RELUCTANTLY QUEER (2016) was also selected for Berlinale Shorts and nominated for the Teddy Award. Her films have been streamed on PBS, The Criterion Channel, MUBI and is currently in distribution with Grasshopper Films. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Pompidou, and the Fowler Museum at UCLA among others. She has also received fellowships and grants from Film at Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists (2020), Villa Sträuli residency (2019), Goethe-Institut Salvador-Bahia (2018), Camargo Foundation fellowship (2016), Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship (2015), MacDowell Colony fellowship (2013) and Creative Capital fellowship (2012). 

She earned her BA in Media Studies and Studio Art from the University of Virginia and an MFA in Film and Video and Fine Art from CalArts in 2008. In 2021-2022, Owusu held an appointment as the Robert Gardner Fellow at Harvard University in the Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies. She previously taught at Georgetown University, Northern Virginia Community College, Pratt Institute, National Film And Television Institute (NAFTI), and at the MFA Summer program at Bard College. Owusu served as a 2023 Arts Envoy for the U.S. Embassy in Ghana and has participated on juries and selection committees for numerous film organizations. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at Howard University.

Education & Expertise


Bachelor of Arts

Media Studies and Studio Art
University of Virginia

Master of Fine Arts

Film and Video
California Institute of the Arts

Master of Fine Arts

Fine Art
California Institute of the Arts


Directing, Producing, Cinematography, Editing, Sound design, Narrative Film Production, Experimental Filmmaking, Documentary Production, Direct Animation Techniques



RTFG 500-01 Film History

RTFG 700-01 African American Cinema

MJFC 349-01 Directing for Film & TV

MJFC 200-04 Intro to Media Production

MJFC 223-03 Film & TV Production

MJFC 225 History of Broadcast & Film




  • 2022 Film Study Center Fellowship, Harvard University

  • 2022 59th Venice Biennale, Italy

  • 2021-2022 Robert Gardner Film Study Fellowship, Harvard University

  • 2020 Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists

  • 2019 Villa Sträuli filmmaker-in-residence, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur

  • 2019 Medien Patent Verwaltung AG Prize, Locarno Film Festival

  • 2019 Special Mention, Videoex International Experimental Film & Video Festival

  • 2018 Goethe-Institut Vila Sul Artist-in-Residence, Salvador-Bahia, Brazil

  • 2018 Oberhausen Film Seminar Fellowship

  • 2016 Best International Short, Baltimore International Black Film Festival

  • 2016 Camargo Foundation Residency

  • 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship

  • 2015 Tribeca All Access Grant

  • 2013 MacDowell Colony Fellowship

  • 2013 Arte France International Prize, Durban FilmMart

  • 2013 Africa Movie Academy Award

  • 2012 Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker, Ann Arbor Festival

  • 2012 Art Matters Grant

  • 2012 Locarno Film Festival, Open Doors co-production lab

  • 2012 Sarah Jacobsen Film Grant

  • 2012 Creative Capital Foundation Film/Video Fellowship

  • 2011 Focus Features Africa First Award

  • 2011 Best Experimental Short, Expresion en Corto Film Festival

  • 2010 Produire au Sud Workshop, Nantes, France

  • 2010 Featured Artist, 56th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar 

  • 2009 Best Documentary Short, Chicago Underground Film Festival

  • 2009 Best Documentary Short, Athens International Film & Video Festival

  • 2008 Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Grant, CalArts

Related Articles


Moses, Serubiri (2023), e-flux journal issue #137 (June 2023) "Reluctantly Queer Akosua Adoma Owusu and Kwame Edwin Otu

U.S. Embassy Ghana (2023), "U.S. and Partners Celebrate International Women’s Day"

U.S. Embassy Ghana (2023), "Women in Motion Film Festival Accra"

Tsang, Miguel (2023), West Potomac: The Wire. "Celebrated Alexandria Filmmaker Visits West Po"

Guest, Haden (2022), Harvard Film Archive. "An Evening with Akosua Adoma Owusu"

MUBI Specials (2022), "Akosua Adoma Owusu: The Hair Trilogy"

Dozier, Ayanna (2022), Program notes. "Alchemy Film & Arts Focus: Akosua Adoma Owusu"

Peterson, Vanessa (2022), Frieze. "Preview of the 2022 Venice Biennale Part Two: ‘The Milk of Dreams"

Peterson, Vanessa (2022), Frieze. "The Collective Feminist Agency of ‘The Milk of Dreams"

Harvard University Robert Gardner-FSC Fellowship (2021). "Akosua Adoma Owusu Names 2021-22 Gardner Fellow"

The Criterion Channel’s February 2021 Lineup (2021). "Short Films by Akosua Adoma Owusu Featuring a new introduction by the filmmaker"

PBS Episode 5 (2020), "Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists 2020"

Nguyen, Kim (2019), CCA Wattis Institute. "Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle"

Robinson, Kristina Kay (2019), Burnaway. "Good Hair: Akosua Adoma Owusu at the CAC, New Orleans"

Siegel, Josh (2019), MoMA. "Screening: Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle"

Johnson, Grant (2019), Artforum. "Interview: Akosua Adoma Owusu talks about triple consciousness"

Collymore, Nan (2019), Contemporary&. "Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle Beauty and Power in Black Hair Culture"

American Documentary (2019), "Queer Shorts: Reluctantly Queer

Sullivan, Dan (2019), Film Comment. "Rotterdam 2019 Dispatch"

Young, Neil (2019), Modern Times Review. "Above us, About us: Two new documentaries from Rotterdam"

Sicinski, Michael (2019), Letterboxd. "Review: Pelourinho, They Don’t Really Care About Us"

Hotchkiss, Sarah (2019), KQED. "At the Wattis, the Aftermath of an Invasion and a Kaleidoscope of Black Experience"

Garcia, Jemina (2018), FEM Magazine. "The Triple Consciousness of ‘On Monday Last Week’ (2018)"

Gill, Qila (2018), BFI London. "Pain, pansexuality and afrofuturism: 3 films about the body"

Evans, Bec (2017), DAZED. "Ten experimental filmmakers tackling the world’s big topics"

Ewins, Michael (2016), Sight & Sound Magazine. "BFI: The best films of 2016"

Cameron, Ewan (2016), Little White Lies. "Every film by a black director at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival"

Bode, Katie (2015), Contemporary Art Review. "Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Akosua Adoma Owusu at Art + Practice"

Rochester Art Center (2015), Media Beat. "Akosua Adoma Owusu: Existential Crisis"

James, Jamillah (2015), Hammer Museum. "Off-Site Program: In Conversation: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Akosua Adoma Owusu"

James, Jamillah (2015), Art+Practice. "In Conversation: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Akosua Adoma Owusu with Jamillah James"

Page, Aubrey (2015), Indiewire. "6 Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema"

AFP - Agence France Press (2013), "Filmmaker hoping to rejuvenate Ghana's dilapidated old cinemas"

Sutton, Kate (2013), Artforum. "CRITICS’ PICKS: Akosua Adoma Owusu Art+Practice"

Kendall, Nzingha (2013), Black Camera. "Commentary: Haunting in Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Short Experimental Films" p. 232-236

Finkelstein, David (2011), Film Threat. "DREXCIYA"