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    A Documentary Entirely About Emoji

    Premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival as Picture Character

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    The rapid rise 📈 of emoji (Japanese for “picture character”) is a global 🌍 phenomenon without precedent. Their widespread use and ability to convey complex messages have not only cemented emoji's place as an emerging digital language 🗣, but prompted difficult questions 🤔 about the creation of a language and digital communication’s fraught ties 😣 to identity and inclusion. In THE EMOJI STORY, Directors Martha Shane and Ian Cheney lead viewers 👀 on a deep dive into the ever evolving world of picture characters, from their humble beginnings in Japan 🇯🇵 to mobile keyboards 📱 the world 🌎 over, and shed fresh light 💡 on the private consortium 👥 that approves new emoji offerings and the individuals fighting ✊ to make the language more representative of its billions of users.

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  • ⭐️⭐️ Our Viewers ⭐️⭐️

    "It feels like these small graphics have traveled a long way to tell different stories."


    "There are some people who are trying hard to fill the monotonous life of people with joy, colours and emotions. It’s a beautiful thing to think."


    -Harvard CS50x students


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    The Emoji Story Documentary Screening

    March 16, 2021 18:00 CET


    The Emoji Story: A Documentary Screening and Q&A

    Professional Association of Design

    Feb 18, 2021 6-8pm EST


    The Emoji Story: A Live Q&A


    Feb 17, 2021 7:30 EST


    Screening and Q&A

    Harvard c50 (authentication required)

    Feb 13, 2021 1–3pm EST


    The Emoji Story: A Film Screening and Conversation About Food and Representation​


    Feb 12, 2021 8-9pm EST


    2019 Screenings

    Traverse City Film Festival

    Traverse City, Michigan

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    Sunday, July 29, 2019 at 6:00 PM

    The Kubrick at Central Grade School 301 Seventh St, Traverse City, MI 49684

    Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at 12:00 PM

    Central High School Auditorium 1150 Milliken Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686

    Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 9:00 AM

    City Opera House Q97G+GM Traverse City, Peninsula Township, MI

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    Woods Hole Film Festival

    Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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    Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 8:00 PM

    Old Woods Hole Fire Station 72 Water St, Woods Hole, MA 02543

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    Taormina Film Festival

    Taormina, Province of Messina, Italy

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    Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at 10:00 AM at Sala A

    98039 Taormina, Province of Messina, Italy

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    AFI Docs Film Festival

    Washington, DC

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    Saturday June 22, 2019 at 12:15 PM

    AFI Silver Theater 3, 8633 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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    Sunday June 23, 2019 at 3:30 PM

    Landmark E Street 6, 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

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    Sydney Film Festival

    Sydney, Australia

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    Monday, June 10, 2019 at 4:15 PM

    Dendy Newtown Cinema Hall, 261-263 King St, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia

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    Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 5:15 PM

    Dendy Opera Quays Cinema 1, Shop 9, 2 East, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

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    Tribeca Film Festival

    New York, New York

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    Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 1:00 PM at SVA1-Silas – WORLD PREMIERE

    SVA, Silas, 333 West 23rd Street, New York, NY | between 8th & 9th Avenues

    Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 5:45 PM at VEC-03 - 2nd Screening

    Location: Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Ave., New York, NY | between 11th & 12th Streets

    Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 6:30 PM at REGAL-05 - 3rd Screening

    Regal Cinemas Battery Park Stadium 11

    102 North End Avenue, New York, NY | between Vesey and Murray

    Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 2:00 PM at VEC-02 - 4th Screening

    Village East Cinema, 181-189 2nd Ave. New York, NY | between 11th & 12th Streets

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    2020 Screenings

    2020 Heartland International Film Festival

    Indianapolis, Indiana

    Buy Tickets

    Available October 8, 12:00 PM - October 25, 2:00 PM, 2020

    Watch now in our online Virtual Festival


    LIVE VIRTUAL Q&A: October 9 at 8:00 pm EDT

    Hear from the cast and crew of each Documentary Official Selection film as HIFF leads a Q&A with the filmmakers. Watch it live to get a chance to ask your questions in the chat window.


    Lake Country Film Festival

    Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

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    Available November 4 - 16, 2020

    All titles will be available on our virtual streaming platform, Seed&Spark.

    Live Q&A with the filmmakers on Nov 11, 2020 10PM-11PM CST


    Three Rivers Film Festival

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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    Available November 11 - 22, 2020

    Watch with our online Virtual Festival


    Milano Design Festival

    Milan, Italy

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    Available November 6 - 9, 2020

    Watch with our online Virtual Festival


    SF Doc Festival

    San Francisco, CA

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    Available September 3 - 20, 2020

    Watch our online Virtual Festival


    Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

    Castlemaine, Australia

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    Available in Australia and New Zealand for an online appointment

    July 17-19, 2020


    Doc Edge Festival

    Auckland, New Zealand

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    Tuesday 16th June, 1230pm NZT - 1st Screening

    Tuesday 23rd June, 1230pm NZT - 2nd Screening

    Tuesday 30th June, 1230pm NZT - 3rd Screening


    Oxford Film Festival

    Oxford, Mississippi

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    Available May 1-30, 2020

    Available with online streaming


    Cleveland International Film Festival

    Cleveland, Ohio

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    Available April 15-28, 2020

    Watch with online streaming


    Durango Film Festival

    Durango, Colorado

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    Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 9:30 AM at Gaslight Twin Cinema - 1st Screening

    Friday, March 6, 2020 at 3:00 PM at Durango Stadium - 2nd Screening


    Local Virtual Theatrical Screenings

    (thanks to @HomeArts)


    Hot Docs at Home


    Film Streams

    Omaha, NE

    Streaming December 25, 2020


    The Roxie in San Francisco

    San Francisco, CA

    Streaming December 18, 2020


    The Broadway

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Streaming December 18, 2020


    The Coolidge Corner

    Boston, MA

    Streaming December 18, 2020


    Amherst Cinema

    Amherst, MA

    Streaming December 18, 2020


    Chelsea Theater

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Streaming December 18, 2020


    Grail Moviehouse

    Asheville, NC Streaming December 18, 2020



    Directors: Martha Shane, Ian Cheney
    Producers: Jennifer 8. Lee, Ian Cheney, Martha Shane
    Associate Producer: Margaux Sax
    Cinematographers: Emily Topper, Ian Cheney, Lucy Martens
    Composers: Simon Beins, Ben Fries
    Editor: Frederick Shanahan
    Executive Producers: Fred Benenson, Peter Friedland
    Co-Producers: Christian Deonier, Eric T. Lee, Morwin Schmookler, Joshua Elkes, Eric Dash
    Associate Producers: Greg Brockman, Adam J. Goldstein, David J. McCarthy, Albert Ni, Debo Olaosebikan, David Phantana, Matthew Prince Steven Willis, Tim Wu, Joshua Yguado
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    Martha Shane

    Director and Producer

    Martha Shane is an Emmy Award-winning director and producer of documentaries. Her directorial debut After Tiller premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. Theatrically released by Oscilloscope Laboratories, After Tiller was broadcast on PBS in 2014 and won an Emmy for Best Documentary. Most recently, she produced the award-winning From This Day Forward, which was released theatrically and broadcast on PBS in 2016.


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    Ian Cheney

    Director and Producer

    Ian is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. He received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yale University, and his films include King Corn (2007),The Greening of Southie (2008), Truck Farm (2010), The City Dark (2011), The Search for General Tso (2014), Bluespace (2015) and The Most Unknown (2018). He helms the independent production company Wicked Delicate and is a lecturer at Yale College.

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    Jennifer 8. Lee


    Jennifer 8. Lee is co-founder and CEO of Plympton, a San Francisco-based literary studio that innovates in digital publishing. A former New York Times reporter, Jenny is a producer of “The Search for General Tso” (2014) and the author of the New York Times-bestselling book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles (Twelve, 2008). Jenny is vice-chair of the Unicode a Emoji Subcommittee and was one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in business in 2017 as well as a Esquire Women We Love in 2003. Jenny graduated with a degree in Applied Math and Economics from Harvard

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    Frederick Shanahan


    Frederick is a film editor based in New York City. He has worked on several award-winning documentaries, including the Emmy-nominated feature, The City Dark, which aired on PBS POV in 2012, The Search for General Tso, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, The Birth of Sake, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival in the feature documentary competition, and From This Day Forward, which premiered at the 2015 Full Frame Film Festival and will air on PBS POV in the summer of 2016. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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