Chinonye Chukwu, a native of Rivers State, Nigeria, has become the first black woman to win Sundance film festival top prize, the largest independent film festival in the US.
The Nigerian-American filmmaker’s entry ‘Clemency’ won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 edition of the festival
‘Clemency’, which was written and directed by Chukwu, depicted the story of a warden at a maximum security prison struggling with the emotional demands of her job.
Thanking her producers who had chosen a female director to tell the story, Chukwu said that the film was made “so we as a society can stop defining people by their worst possible acts, that we can end mass incarceration and dismantle the prison-industrial complex, and root our societies in true justice and mercy and freedom, which is all tied to our joy inside, which nobody can ever incarcerate and execute.”
Chuckwu, with her record-breaking feat, joins Ava DuVernay, who in 2012 became the first black woman to win a directing award at the festival, with her entry ‘Middle of Nowhere.’
The Rivers-born filmmaker is set to also direct a movie adaptation of ‘A Taste of Power,’ a memoir by a former leader of the Black Panther Party,Elaine Brown.
Her other works include A Long Walk, Alaska Land and The Dance Lesson.
Sundance is a nonprofit organisation that discovers and supports independent film/theatre artists and introduces audiences to their works. The Sundance Festival holds annually in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.