For A.V. Rockwell , A Thousand and One was the result of a lifetime of heartbreak. The movie — her debut feature — is the filmmaker’s response to feeling pushed out, to being overlooked, to never seeing Black women like herself or those around her represented in the breadth of their humanity on-screen. So imagine her surprise when the film won Sundance . “That was just surreal,” says Rockwell, now two months after returning from Park City with the Grand Jury Prize. “There aren’t a lot of things that actually shake me up, but I was just so blown away.” The gritty New York drama begins in 1994 and follows a young mother, Inez, as she returns home to Brooklyn following a bid at Rikers Island. Hoping to start life anew with her 6-year-old son, Terry, she kidnaps him from the foster care system and absconds to Harlem. Ending in the year 2005, A Thousand and One is a coming-of-age story of mother and son, as they fight to find a place for their family in a rapidly gentrifying New York City. The Queens-born and raised Rockwell knows that gentrification intimately, having grown up watching the Black families who built her borough in the ’70s and ’80s be pushed out over the decades that followed. “It felt like we were being erased altogether,” she remembers. “It made me feel a level of pain when I thought about my coming of age, feeling like, ‘How does it feel to know […]
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