The Last Black Man in San Francisco Wins Big at Sundance

Joe Talbot's film about race and gentrification, starring Jimmie Fails, won two significant awards, increasing its chances for wide distribution.

Over the weekend, Joe Talbot won two honors for his film The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which stars his longtime friend Jimmy Fails in the titular role as a skateboarder hungering to reclaim the home on Golden Gate Avenue in the Fillmore that his grandfather built (and which he will probably never afford on a part-time nurse’s salary, so he concocts a scheme to make it happen). To grapple with the consequences of gentrification in a non-polemical way is rare, yet The Last Black Man in San Francisco seems to do just that, and without sacrificing heart or wit. In addition to snagging the award for Directing, the film also won the Special Jury Award – Creator Collaboration.

This bodes well for the film’s prospects at wide distribution. Variety called it “gorgeous and touchingly idealistic” while Rolling Stone says it’s a “funny, poignant, personal, and a rage-filled valentine to a metropolis that’s seen its fair share of gentrification.”

Additionally, Chinonye Chukwu became the first Black women in Sundance’s 35-year history to take home the U.S. Grand Juiry Prize: Dramatic for Clemency, a film about death-row inmates that stars Alfre Woodard. It’s essentially the festival’s biggest prize, and one that Ryan Coogler won for his Oscar Grant documentary, Fruitvale Station, in 2013. Chukwu is also one of only 10 women to have claimed Sundance’s top honor.

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