Profile: Cauleen Smith (1967-)

Cauleen Smith is an American born filmmaker and multimedia artist. She is best known for her experimental works that address the African-American identity, specifically the issues facing black women today. Smith is best known for her feature film DrylongsoSmith currently teaches in the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.



In 1991 Smith completed her B.A in Cinema at San Francisco State University. While a student there, she completed several films, two of which received a lot of attention: Daily Rains, which was completed in 1990, and Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron, which was fully completed in 1993.

Once she finished her B.A., Smith was accepted into the M.F.A. program at UCLA. Her work there gained worldwide recognition. In her second year of the program, Smith decided to shoot a feature-length film titled Drylongso. However, it was against UCLA’s rules for film students to shoot feature-length films, “and for good reason, you don’t know what you are doing!” as Smith has said. She was, after some struggles, able to complete the film, and it got a significant amount of attention at the Sundance Film Festival, and took home several Best Film awards from other festivals, mentioned below. In 1998, Smith graduated from UCLA with her M.F.A. and a growing reputation as an up-and-coming force in the film industry.

In 2007, she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.

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