And in news from Park City, Utah, Nate Parker’s "The Birth of a Nation" won top prizes at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Parker produced, directed and starred in the feature film about the 1831 slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, organized by enslaved man and preacher Nat Turner. On Saturday night, Parker accepted both the grand jury prize for a narrative film and the audience award for drama.
Nate Parker: "This means so much to me, because a film like this, being a film that some would call an issue film, it succeeds when it touches people, when it affects people. And I’ve seen firsthand that people are open to the idea of change, and the fact that it’s happening through this film means everything to me. So I just want to thank you all so much. Thank you, Sundance, for creating a platform for us to grow, in spite of what the rest of Hollywood is doing sometimes. So thank you for being the leader in what you do."
In the documentary category, Roger Ross Williams won best director for "Life, Animated," the story of autistic man Owen Suskind. Williams, who is also the first African-American director to win an Academy Award, spoke out about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in his acceptance speech.
Roger Ross Williams: "In the age of #OscarsSoWhite and a lack of diversity in Hollywood, I want to thank the Institute for supporting artists like me, who never get—who never have a voice. Owen Suskind is an amazing, an amazing individual, because what he taught me is that people living with autism have so much to offer the world, and if we leave them behind, we’re losing out as a society. And I really wanted to tell this story from his point of view. So thank you so much."
And the documentary "Trapped" won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking. The film addresses so-called TRAP laws, which stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, and their impact on abortion providers in the South. During her acceptance speech, director Dawn Porter spoke about the challenges abortion providers face.
Dawn Porter: "This film is really for all the people who are risking their lives and their health and safety and keeping clinics open, and all the abortion providers and people. We see you. We hear you. Your story is important. And this will go so much—so far to tell that story. So thank you so much."
To see our full interviews with directors Dawn Porter and Roger Ross Williams during the Sundance Film Festival, go to our website democracynow.org. Another one of the films that won top prize was "Jim," about the slain journalist James Foley. To see our interview with James Foley’s family, go to our website, democracynow.org.