The American Presidents Film & Literary Festival will take place Sept. 24 – Oct. 2, 2022 in Fremont, Ohio, home of America’s first presidential library. This new film festival focuses on the American Presidency through the themes of people, places, politics, and power.

Filmmakers of all ages and skill levels, from emerging to seasoned, are invited to submit a film to the festival and can do so at the Film Freeway here: filmfreeway.com/AmericanPresidentsFilmandLiteraryFestival.

“This is the only festival that is devoted to the issues of social and political importance about where we came from as a country, where we are going and the people who brought us here through the American Presidency.” – Kirk Ellis, screenwriter for the HBO miniseries “John Adams” and 2018 Keynote Speaker

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2022 Keynote Speaker

Bob Schmuhl

Dr. Robert Schmuhl

Robert Schmuhl became the inaugural Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Chair in American Studies and Journalism at the University of Notre Dame in 2006 and occupied the chair until July of 2018, when he became Chair Emeritus. The founder of Notre Dame’s John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy, he served as the Program’s Director from 1997 until 2016. He was also Chair of the Department of American Studies four separate times from 1991 until 2016 during his 38 years on the Notre Dame faculty.

Schmuhl is the author or editor of fifteen books, including Statecraft and Stagecraft: American Political Life in the Age of Personality (1990, 1992, and 2016), Demanding Democracy (1994), Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King (1996 and 2014) and Wounded Titans: American Presidents and the Perils of Power (1996 and 2017). His edited volume, The Responsibilities of Journalism, has been published in four foreign editions. Oxford University Press published his book, Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising, in the spring of 2016, the hundredth anniversary of the Rising. His most recent book, The Glory and the Burden, (about the American presidency since the New Deal) appeared in September of 2019 and was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES book of the Year Award in Political and Social Sciences. A new, expanded edition of The Glory and the Burden: The American Presidency from the New Deal to the Present will be published in the fall of 2022. He is currently working on a historical study, Mr. Churchill in the White House, about Winston Churchill’s relationships with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower during Churchill’s terms as Prime Minister.

A frequent contributor to popular publications, Schmuhl’s columns, features, and reviews have appeared in The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Irish Independent, Sports Illustrated, Irish America Magazine, Commonweal, American Journalism Review, History Ireland, and several other newspapers, magazines and online outlets.

Schmuhl has appeared on CBS, CNN, PBS, NPR, C-SPAN, the Voice of America, the BBC, Sky News, and several other television and radio programs in the U.S. and abroad.

Full List of Speakers

2018 People’s Choice Award Winners

The 2018 People’s Choice Film winners tell us why they love the American Presidents Film & Literary Festival.

2022 Judges

Tammy Kinsey
Professor of film, University of Toledo

Tammy Kinsey is the Faculty Advisor for the UT Film and Video Society. She was named a UT College of Arts & Sciences Master Teacher from 2009-2011. Kinsey teaches such courses as experimental film, advanced 16mm production, optical printing, documentary field production, film/video workshop, film censorship, The YouTube Phenomenon: Cinema in Cyberspace, and history of video art.

Kinsey joined the University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film in 1997. She has a master of fine arts degree in photography and film from Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Virginia Tech.

Her research interests include visual language, experimental and documentary filmmaking, art censorship, and issues of representation in popular culture.

Kinsey’s films have been screened in such venues as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Anthology Film Archives in New York, the Kaunas Biennial in Lithuania, SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco, the Telluride Experimental Film Festival, London’s Exploding Cinema, the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Kinsey’s written work appears in many publications, as well.

Craig Shoup
Reporter and columnist, Fremont News-Messenger

Craig Shoup is a 2009 graduate of Bowling Green State University, where he majored in broadcast journalism and minored in film studies.

He is currently a reporter with the News-Messenger in Fremont, a Gannett newspaper, and writes an entertainment column “Reel Talk.” He has worked for Gannett newspapers since 2014.

“Reel Talk” features takes on current movies, Hollywood trends, and Shoup’s thoughts on the industry. Columns feature topics including Academy awards preview and predictions, the #MeToo movement, and inclusion among female actors and directors.

Vanessa Leonard
Communications Specialist ProMedica Foundations, Producer at Loud Kid Films, International Award-Winning

Northwest Ohio native, Vanessa Leonard is no stranger to the stage or camera. Her passion for making movies started when she was twelve years old when she asked her parents for a video camera. Once gifted with a camcorder, then came the story writing and the casting of friends and family for fan fiction projects like “Sherlock Holmes” and “Star Wars” shorts, as well as original short stories.

Vanessa found opportunities that let her continue her passion, as she landed various roles for several regional independent films and television advertisements. Vanessa, however, wanted to expand her acting talents. So she returned to her teenage roots and wrote her first screenplay and directed her first feature-length film, A Story
Worth Living.

A Story Worth Living is a fictional drama based on the topic of mental health. The film made its world debut in Hollywood in February 2020, weeks prior to the novel coronavirus lockdowns, at the Golden State Film Festival. It has since then played around the world at numerous festivals winning multiple awards.

Film Submission Information


  • The theme of this year’s festival is “People, Places, Politics, and Power.” We ask that films make some connection to this broad theme and encourage films that make some reference to the American presidency.
  • Any genre of film is welcome.
  • Foreign language films must contain English subtitles.
  • No refunds on registration fees.
  • If you are uncertain if your film meets the criteria, feel free to contact us!


We are excited to provide the following awards!

– $250 for Best Feature Length Film
– $250 for Best Short Film
– $250 for Best Production
– $250 for People’s Choice


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