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‘Clemency’ Filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu First Black Woman To Win Grand Jury Prize At Sundance

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It was a successful year for female filmmakers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Taking home one of the four Grand Jury Prize awards, for her work on ‘Clemency’, is filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu. Chukwu is the first black woman to win the festival’s highest honor for her U.S. Dramatic entry.

‘Clemency’ tells the story of a prison warden struggling with the emotional demands of her job. The death row drama was both written and directed by Chukwu and also stars Alfre Woodard.

“When everybody was saying ‘no’ this story does not have an audience, you, Sundance, and the people who have seen this film have proven that there is an audience for this film, and I thank you!” said Chinonye Chukwu after accepting the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for the film.

This year’s other Grand Jury Prize winners include Nanfu Wang’s “One Child Nation” (U.S. Documentary), Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” (World Dramatic), and Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s “Honeyland” (World Documentary). All of the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize awards given to competition films were either directed or co-directed by a female filmmaker.

Ava DuVernay, who was the first black woman to win a directing award at Sundance in 2012, took to Twitter to congratulate Chinonye Chukwu on her major win.

“Congrats to @ChinonyeC and the cast and crew of her film,” she tweeted. “And all the casts and crews of every film at Sundance this year. Beautiful fest lineup with many gems. Brava, @KimYutani and the whole Sundance team!”

Chukwu joins Desiree Akhavan, Ryan Coogler, Debra Granik, Damien Chazelle, and many more big names as winning the Grand Jury Prize for their U.S. Dramatic entries.

‘Clemency’ is still seeking U.S. distribution.


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