Adam James Smith is an award-winning, US-based filmmaker and educator, originally from the United Kingdom. He holds degrees from Stanford and Cambridge, the latter of which he is currently an affiliated filmmaker at the university’s Visual Anthropology Lab. As an educator, he teaches subject matter as diverse as the history of storytelling, Chinese cinema, anthropological filmmaking, and media entrepreneurship. Adam regularly presents his work and lectures at universities and organizations around North America, including Harvard, Duke, Columbia, Stanford, USC, UCLA, the Asia Society, and many others.
As a filmmaker, he holds a keen interest in the expression of identity within rural and urban environments in China, Japan, and the United States. His documentary work includes the Sundance Institute-supported Land of Many Palaces (2015) co-directed with Song Ting, on the “ghost city” of Ordos, Inner Mongolia. The film premiered at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and then went on to screen at festivals around the world, picking up awards in Rome, Kyoto, and Moscow. His follow-up film and first solo-feature, Americaville (2020), was supported by the Asian Cinema Fund and the Whicker’s Foundation. The film explores an American Wild West-themed community on the outskirts of Beijing, where Chinese citizens attempt to live their interpretation of the American dream. Adam is currently working on a series of observational documentaries on the American experience beyond the East and West coasts, collectively titled The Heartland Project, and a documentary remake in Japan of Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation, titled Forever Lost. Adam’s film work has been featured in The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Art Forum, and The New York Times.