Cauleen Smith was born in Riverside, California and grew up in
Sacramento, California. She received a BA from San Francisco State
University from The School of Creative Arts in 1989. She earned an
MFA from The School of Theater-Television-Film, University of
California, Los Angeles in 1998. She is currently assistant
professor in the department of Media and Performing Arts at
Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA after holding
an assistant professor position at the University of Texas at Austin
in the department of Radio-TV-Film for five years.
Her short film Daily Rains (1990) was selected for Sundance Film
Festival in 1991. Another short, Chronicles of a Lying Spirit By
Kelly Gabron (1991), was the only film at the 1991 The Robert
Flaherty Film Seminar Exhibition to screen twice by audience demand.
In 1993, Smith was invited by the San Francisco Cinemateque to
create a site-specific installation which was then adapted as part
of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Inaugural Show. In 1994,
Cauleen Smith was awarded funding from the Rockefeller
Inter-Cultural Media Arts Fellowship, the American Film Institute
Independent Film and Videomaker Program, the National Black
Programming Consortium, and a Western States Regional Fellowship
which she used to write, direct and produce her first narrative
feature film, Drylongso (1998).
Drylongso was selected for the American Spectrum of Sundance Film
Festival, won an honorable mention from the Hamptons Film Festival,
and Best Feature Film at Urbanworld, and the Los Angeles Pan-African
film festival. In 1999 Cauleen Smith was chosen as one of "Variety"
magazine's "10 Directors to Watch". She was awarded the Movado
Someone to Watch Award by the Los Angeles IFP Independent Spirit Awards.
Smith's experimental science-fiction short, The Changing Same
(1998), was programmed in the 2001 exhibition "Race in Digital
Space" at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, that show traveled on to the Studio Museum of Harlem,
winter 2002. In 2003, The Changing Same, along with another short
White Suit (1997) were programmed into the international
Afrofuturist show "Black to the Future" at Cinema De Baile the
Netherlands, Amsterdam. The films also aired on Dutch television
station Kunstkanaal in November of 2003.
In 2001 Smith's screenplay, I Am Furious Black was selected for the
Sundance Lab Writer's Lab 2001, then again for the Sundance Lab
Director's Lab 2001. She adapted Martha Southgate's sophomore novel,
Third Girl From the Left for the screen, the project is currently in
development with Kerrie Washington attached. Smith is currently
developing a feature length project, Rebecca (Working Title) to be
produced in Lagos Nigeria. Development funding has been provided by
Art Matters Foundation.
In 2005, Smith was honored to receive Technology support grant from
The National Video Databank for the preservation of earlier work.
She also received a Texas Film Production Fund grant from The Austin
Film Society for a series of film-portraits of artists and art
facilitators in Austin, Texas entitled The Nebula Project. After two
attempts, over two semester, the senior engineering students built a
prototype of an apparatus that can hold over one thousand feet of
16mm film in the air in one continuous loop. The prototype debuted
at MASS Gallery in Austin Texas for one night onlyin May of
2007. Smith plans on continue the portraiture process from city to
city wherever she resides.
Cauleen Smith's short films are distributed by Canyon Cinema. Her
feature length film is available for rental exclusively at Hollywood
Video stores nationwide.