With its annual awards ceremony, the Sundance Film Festival concluded its much awaited return to Park City, Utah, over the weekend, honouring the outstanding movies and documentaries that affected viewers and won judges over with Black women at the forefront.
The highest honour was given to writer/director A.V. Rockwell’s A Thousand and One, a plot-bending drama that centres on Teyana Taylor’s tenacity as a young mother facing hardship in 1990s New York City.
Variety reports that dramatist and member of the Sundance U.S. dramatic jury Jeremy O. Harris broke down in tears when he gave Rockwell the coveted Grand Jury Prize for Drama, confessing that the movie had impacted him so much that he had to leave the theatre and cry in private outside.
In the mid-1990s New York City setting of A Thousand and One, Taylor plays Inez, a young mother just released from Rikers Island who kidnaps her 6-year-old son while wandering from shelter to shelter in the hopes of starting a new life for the two of them. Although the premise sounds like standard “Black struggle” material, reviews point out significant plot twists and unexpected story arcs that elevate this movie above the ordinary.
The documentary Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, which was made by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, comfortably won the Grand Jury Prize. The documentary, which includes firsthand testimonies and interviews with the well-known poet, focuses on Giovanni’s unique viewpoint and private demeanour, including her frank admission that she only recalls what she wants to remember and makes up everything else.
The Stroll, an unflinching look at the history of New York’s Meatpacking District as a centre of sex work for Black trans women, through the experiences of people who lived it personally, was given the Special Jury Award for Clarity of Vision to directors Kristen Lovell & Zackary Drucke.