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Clemency, Written & Directed by Chinonye Chukwu '07, Takes Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival

Clemency, Written & Directed by Chinonye Chukwu '07, Takes Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival

February 3, 2019

"Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency, which stars Alfre Woodard as a warden at a maximum security prison struggling with an approaching execution, claimed the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. dramatic competition as the 2019 Sundance Film Festival handed out its awards in Park City on Saturday night," notes the Hollywood Reporter. She becomes "the first black woman to win the the festival’s biggest prize."

Gregg Kilday writes, "As she accepted the honor, Chukwu said that one of her hopes, which she would like the film to play a role in, is that 'we can end mass incarceration and dismantle the prison-industrial complex.'"

Read more here.

Chukwu is a 2007 graduate of DePauw University and Clemency -- which stars Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge and Richard Schiff -- had its world premiere last Sunday at Sundance. Chukwu wrote and directed the film.

After the premiere screening, the Reporter's David Rooney wrote that Clemency "is a superbly crafted film, particularly in terms of its visual sense ... {The "powerful drama [has] ... humanity and compassion invested across all the principal characters ... [and] "is never less than engrossing and often acutely affecting."

Last week, Deadline reported that Chukwu is in line to direct a screen adaptation of A Taste of Power, the memoir by Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. 

An English (writing) major at DePauw, Chinonye Chukwu was a 2009 recipient of the Princess Grace Award. Her debut feature film, AlaskaLand, was screened at the Chicago International Film Festival and the New York African Festival at Lincoln Center. Her short film, The Dance Lesson, was a regional finalist for the 2010 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Academy Awards.  Her A Long Walk is an adaptation of a short story by Professor Autman. 

Chukwu has served as an assistant professor of motion pictures at Wright State University, where she began the research that resulted in Clemency.

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