Best Narrative Award
Adullam truly was a labor of love, birthed from my love for my people, my hometown, and sci-fi that makes you think. Ultimately, Adullam is a celebration of the things, people, and especially spaces so sacred to us as Black people. And how our excellence and our larger-than-life existence can more often than not be policed, politicized, and/or profited from..even when we least expect it.
Best Female Director Award
Jesa (제사, 祭祀) is a ceremony commonly practiced in Korea. Jesa functions as a memorial to the ancestors of the participants. Jesa are usually held on the anniversary of the ancestor’s death and South Korea’s most important holidays.
The film, Jesa, is capturing gender dynamic and intergenerational communication of this tradition as a female. Through the unexpected interviews and stop motion technique, the film breaks solemnity of the tradition with humor.
Best BIPOC Director Award
I wanted to create this film because I found that while other boys can enjoy a childhood of freedoms, for many reasons, “Black boyhood” is a brief, complicated existence. W.E.B. Dubois wrote about this in Souls Of Black Folk, saying, ”Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.” At an early age, Black males are often labelled as violent and troublesome, over-policed in their communities, and forced into hyper-masculine gender norms. To me, If Black Boys Were Butterflies is an urgent social document. For us, freedom is a luxury.
Throughout history we’ve found this to be true, and through this film I wanted to explore that idea. Showing young black men enjoying their youth and seeking liberation from these complexities, alongside the intimate off-screen conversation between the two Black men, provides a closer look into this reality.
Best Non-Fiction Award
Representation matters. Throughout my career, these two words have been my guiding light. In all of my work, I represent subjects from diverse backgrounds and tackle broader social issues through a very specific lens. I strive to tell personal, human stories because I believe that it is truly in the specific that you find the universal. My goal is to have my films motivate a lasting dialogue that extends beyond the viewing experience. It is about connecting people and fostering understanding.
With “The Missfits,” my intention is to tell the story of how adolescent girls – through their actions and choices – can redefine gender and race expectations for STEM. I address this larger theme while focusing on the personal experiences of the girls and what they are going through on a more intimate level. The robotics season is the centerpiece of the film, providing its narrative through-line. However, the heart of the film depicts what it is like to be an adolescent girl juggling familial, social, and academic expectations in today’s world.