Chinonye Chukwu Becomes First Black Woman To Win Sundance’s Biggest Prize

Chinonye Chukwu Becomes First Black Woman To Win Sundance’s Biggest Prize

Chinonye Chukwu Becomes First Black Woman To Win Sundance’s Biggest Prize

It was a big year for women at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. All four of the Grand Jury Prizes given to competition films were either directed or co-directed by women.

Filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu, though, broke new grounds. Her film “Clemency,” a moving death row drama, won the festival’s biggest prize, the Grand Jury Prize for her US Dramatic entry.

IndieWire shares that she wrote and directed “Clemency,” and has been directing short films since 2009.


In IndieWire’s review, Eric Kohn wrote of the film, “Alfre Woodard embodies the extraordinary challenges of a woman tasked with sending men to their death, while bottling up her emotions so tight she looks as if she might blow. Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s second feature maintains the quiet, steady rhythms of a woman so consumed by her routine that by the end of the opening credits, it appears to have consumed her humanity as well.”

She 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. Chukwu previously directed the 2012 drama “alaskaLand,” and has been directing short films since 2009.

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