‘A Thousand and One’ and Nikki Giovanni Documentary Win at Sundance Film Festival

Other prizes go to “Scrapper,” about a British girl and her estranged father, and “The Eternal Memory,” about a Chilean couple coping with Alzheimer’s.

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By Stephanie Goodman

A mother-son drama and a documentary about the pioneering poet Nikki Giovanni won grand jury prizes at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday.

Taking the top honor in the U.S. dramatic competition, “A Thousand and One,” the debut feature of A.V. Rockwell, stars the singer and dancer Teyana Taylor as an ex-con who kidnaps her boy from foster care. The festival jury — made up of Jeremy O. Harris, Eliza Hittman and Marlee Matlin — described it as “work that is real, full of pain, and fearless in its rigorous commitment to emotional truth born of oppressive circumstances.”

The U.S. nonfiction award went to “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,” from the directors Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson. The jury (W. Kamau Bell, Ramona Diaz and Carla Gutierrez) described Giovanni, now 79, as “a singular, unapologetic voice,” and said the film’s “strong directorial vision illuminates the joy and the raw reality of the Black experience.”

In the world cinema dramatic competition, the top award was given to the British film “Scrapper,” Charlotte Regan’s tale of a smart 12-year-old (Lola Campbell) on her own after the death of her mother and the return of a father (Harris Dickinson of “Triangle of Sadness”) she barely knows. “A charming and empathetic film full of integrity and life,” the jurors Shozo Ichiyama, Annemarie Jacir and Funa Maduka wrote, adding, “‘Scrapper’ is a poignant study on grief.”

The Chilean documentary “The Eternal Memory” took the world cinema nonfiction prize. Directed by Maite Alberdi (“The Mole Agent”), the film follows a husband and wife as they deal with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Augusto Góngora is a well-known Chilean TV presenter, and his wife, Paulina Urrutia, an actress-director who once served as the country’s culture minister, is now caring for him. “This film opened our hearts by bringing us closer to the meaning of life and death,” the jurors Karim Amer, Petra Costa and Alexander Nanau wrote.

The Festival Favorite Award, voted on by audiences, went to Christopher Zalla’s “Radical,” starring Eugenio Derbez as an elementary school teacher along the U.S. border. Other Audience Awards went to the documentaries “Beyond Utopia” (from Madeleine Gavin, about North Koreans trying to defect); “20 Days in Mariupol” (Mstyslav Chernov’s account of being trapped with other Ukrainian journalists during the Russian invasion); and “Kokomo City” (D. Smith’s look at Black transgender sex workers).

Two films about Iranians abroad also won over audiences: “The Persian Version,” Maryam Keshavarz’s comedy-drama set amid a family reunion in New York, and “Shayda,” Noora Niasari’s drama about a mother and her abusive husband in Australia.

The festival concludes Sunday.

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