Sundance 2023: ‘A Thousand and One,’ ‘Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project’ win grand jury prizes

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Black-led films “Kokomo City,” “The Stroll,” and “Magazine Dreams” also earned top prizes at Sundance’s annual film festival.

After over a week full of film, the Sundance Film Festival, an annual staple in independent cinema, is coming to a close this weekend. On Friday, the Sundance Institute announced the festival’s grand jury prize winners, many of which theGrio got to catch during the festival’s in-person return in Park City, Utah this year.

‘A Thousand and One’ <br>Photo Credit via: The Sundance Institute
‘A Thousand and One’
Photo Credit via: The Sundance Institute

Featuring a singular performance from lead actress Teyana Taylor, “A Thousand and One,” a film by A.V. Rockwell, earned the grand jury prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. The moving film follows Inez (Taylor), a formerly incarcerated mother who fights for a life with her son, Terry. Kidnapping him from foster care in the 1990s, the project follows Inez and Terry through the years as they build their lives together, all while Harlem, their home, vastly changes and shifts in the wake of gentrification.

“As a jury, we know how impossible it is to make work that is real, full of pain, and fearless in its rigorous commitment to emotional truth born of oppressive circumstances,” read the jury citation.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary went to “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,” a powerful documentary diving deep into the life and legacy of the celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni. Fusing archival footage and interviews with live readings of her poems and visual treatments, the film from Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson left quite the impression on the jurors. “The strong directorial vision illuminates the joy and the raw reality of the Black experience,” the citation reads.

Another film on our radar, “Kokomo City,” took home the Audience Award: NEXT at the festival. As theGrio previously reported, the transformative documentary follows four Black trans sex workers in New York and Atlanta, and was swiftly acquired by Magnolia Pictures.

2023 Sundance Film Festival - "The Stroll" Premiere
(L-R) Ceyenne Doroshow, Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker, Carey, Cashmere, Tabytha, Sara Rodriguez, Matt Wolf, and Nancy Abraham attend the 2023 Sundance Film Festival “The Stroll” Premiere at Prospector Square Theatre on January 23, 2023 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

Similarly, “The Stroll,” which details the overlooked history of New York City’s Meatpacking District and the trans sex workers who worked there, received a special jury award, the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Clarity of Vision. “Magazine Dreams,” which stars Jonathan Majors as an amateur bodybuilder, also earned a special jury award, taking home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision.

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