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Sundance: ‘A Thousand and One,’ Nikki Giovanni Doc Take Top Jury Prizes

By Mia Galuppo,


A Thousand and One took the jury prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival , with Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project taking the top prize in the U.S. Documentary Competition section.

A Thousand and One is directed by A.V. Rockwell and follows a mother who kidnaps her six-year-old son Terry from the foster care system, a secret that threatens their way of life as Terry gets older. The Focus Features title stars Teyana Taylor, Josiah Cross and Will Catlett.

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“When I was writing this film, I was thinking about mother and son relationships. I was thinking about Black women and Black men relationships. I was thinking about marginalized people and their relationship to their homes,” said Rockwell, accepting the award. “Thank you to everyone for seeing all of those groups and for seeing me.” A tearful Jeremy O. Harris, who was a part of the dramatic jury, presented the award, saying, “Every single person on the jury had an intense emotional response to this film.”

Going to Mars is a look at the life and career of Giovanni, whose work has spanned the Civil Rights movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. “Thank you Nikki Giovanni for your unapologetic spirit. This has been a true gift for us to spend time in her aura and to have access to a piece of her brain,” said Going to Mars co-director Michèle Stephenson of working with the famed poet.

This year’s Audience Award winners are The Persian Version and Beyond Utopia , for dramatic and documentary, respectively. Other top prizes were awarded to Scrapper in World Cinema Dramatic Competition and The Eternal Memory in World Cinema Documentary Competition.

The 2023 Sundance jurors were Harris, Eliza Hittman and Marlee Matlin for U.S. Dramatic Competition; W. Kamau Bell, Ramona Diaz and Carla Gutierrez for U.S. Documentary Competition; Shozo Ichiyama, Annemarie Jacir and Funa Maduka for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; Karim Amer, Petra Costa and Alexander Nanau for World Cinema Documentary Competition; Madeleine Olnek for the NEXT competition section; and Destin Daniel Cretton, Marie-Louise Khondji and Deborah Stratman for the Short Film Program Competition.

The Sundance Film Festival returned to in-person operations in Park City this year, running from Jan. 19 to Jan. 29.

See the full list of award winners below.


Grand Jury Prize: A Thousand and One

Audience Award: The Persian Version

Directing: Sing J. Lee, The Accidental Getaway Driver

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Maryam Keshavarz, The Persian Version

Special Jury Award: Theater Camp

Special Jury Award: Magazine Dreams

Special Jury Award: Lio Mehiel, Mutt


Grand Jury Prize: Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project

Audience Award: Beyond Utopia

Directing: Luke Lorentzen, A Still Small Voice

Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: Daniela I. Quiroz, Going Vasity in Mariachi

Special Jury Award: The Stroll

Special Jury Award: Bad Press


Grand Jury Prize: Scrapper

Audience Award: Shayda

Directing Award: Marija Kavtaradze, Slow

Special Jury Award: Cinematography: Lílis Soares for Mami Wata

Special Jury Award, Best Performance: Rosa Marchant, When It Melts

Special Jury Award, Creative Vision: Sofia Alaoui for Animalia


Grand Jury Prize: The Eternal Memory

Audience Award: 20 Days in Mariupol

Special Jury Prize, Directing: Smoke, Sauna Sisterhood

Special Jury Award, Creative Vision: Fantastic Machine

Special Jury Award, Verité: Against the Tide


Short Film Grand Jury Prize: When You Left Me on That Boulevard

Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction: Rest Stop

Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction: The Kidnapping of the Bride

Short Film Jury Award: Non-Fiction: Will You Look at Me

Short Film Special Jury Award, International: Directing: AliEN0089

Short Film Special Jury Award, U.S: Directing: The Vacation


NEXT Audience Award: Kokomo City

NEXT Innovator Award: Kokomo City

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