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Slamdance 2012 – Keith Miller’s Meditative Docu-Drama “Welcome to Pine Hill” Wins Grand Jury Award

Slamdance 2012 - Keith Miller's Meditative Docu-Drama "Welcome to Pine Hill" Wins Grand Jury Award

The Slamdance Film Festival doesn’t get as much *shine* as the Sundance Film Festival, even though they both take place in Park City, UT, and at almost exactly the same time.

This year’s Slamdance lineup included at least one film we profiled, Keith Miller’s meditative docu-drama Welcome To Pine Hill, made in collaboration with the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, a group which writer/director Miller belongs.

The film, a 2011 Independent Filmmaker Lab participant, is said to have be inspired by a chance encounter between Miller and the film’s star Shannon Harper, who found themselves fighting over a lost dog one night in Brooklyn, NY.

Here’s its synopsis:

Straddling the worlds of fact and fiction, documentary and narrative, WELCOME TO PINE HILL follows Shannon, a recently reformed drug dealer, now working as a claims adjuster by day and bouncer by night. When Shannon receives earth-shattering news, he is compelled to make peace with his past and search for freedom beyond the concrete jungle of New York City. 

Harper plays himself, and is surrounded by an eclectic cast of both emerging talent and real-life people, including Jaiden Kaine, and Mary Meyers.

The film is produced by Elisabeth Holm and Keith Miller.

Its Slamdance 2012 screening was its world premiere, and quite a premiere it must have been because, the film won the Grand Jury Sparky Award for Feature Narrative prize at the festival, announced last night, after being selected by an esteemed panel of industry members who awarded the film that particular award “for its poetic and emotionally honest depiction of one man’s final journey in life, crafted from a true spirit of humanity and community.” 

So, congrats to Mr Miller, cast and crew.

I didn’t get to see the film at Slamdance, since it conflicted with my Sundance screening schedule; but thankfully, I was given a screener of the film, which I’ll be watching this weekend, before my interview with director Miller on Sunday morning. And my review of the film, plus interview with the director will be posted early next week.

I couldn’t find a trailer for the film, but here are 2 clips which show off its loose docu-drama style:

This Article is related to: Festivals and tagged


Luke Parker

I hear Lily Henderson was one of the shooters. Amazing cinematographer – cannot wait to see it.



Best to watch the movie first.


Perhaps this SLAMDANCE TV interview with director Keith Miller can provide further insight:



As a writer I always say we should tell whatever story we want to tell….and as a person of African descent who knows that our depiction carries a weight other people's images do not, I say, in spite of the weight, in spite of the fact that any and everything we do will be linked, connected and attached the ENTIRE cannon, legacy of Black storytelling and experience in this America…i STILL say, we cannot be afraid to tell stories about our truth, whether it come through a drug dealer, a pimp, a prostitute, a teacher, a garbage man, a preacher or someone running for senate. If the characters are well developed…(more than one draft of a script) if the characters look and feel human…if they are authentic and have some kind of arc…then its of interest to me…so this film is one that intrigues me….for one…the fact that real people are given a platform to speak their truth (as long as they aren't exploited) then that feels progressive…I have also worked with formerly incarcerated youth…so I know a story like this would spark convo and maybe inspire…so while it sickens you KIA it may motivate someone who walked it.

I do however ALSO understand that Sundance and maybe Slamdance and other non-black festivals (in what I believe to be a desire to reflect raw, human and truthful stories)…tend to accept and support Black films with dark, depraved or often long suffering protagonists…

so it comes down to balance….and as a person who stopped myself from writing a 'Sundance' script (one with a floundering, lost, long-suffering Black person, simply because I know it's what would make it in over say, a political satire) I realize it gets back to me writing what moves me….not what I think Sundance or anyone else thinks makes for a good or worthy film.


Although, I can't wait to hear your review on this, but I have to be honest… I'm so tired of these kinds of premises where the black lead character(s) are uneducated and struggling to rise out of poverty. Yes, there are plenty of people in that predictment (all races), but when will this plot be the minority? On top of that–awarded as the best–so sick of it.

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