More than a month after taking the top prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Chinonye Chukwu’s Grand Jury Prize-winning drama “Clemency” has finally landed itself a home. Variety reports that Neon will release the lauded new film later this year, joining Neon’s other big Sundance pickups, including “Luce,” “Little Monsters,” “The Lodge,” “Monos,” and yet another Grand Jury Prize winner: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov’s “Honeyland,” which won in the world documentary section.
Chukwu is the first black woman to win the festival’s biggest prize, the Grand Jury Prize for her U.S. Dramatic entry. Chukwu both wrote and directed the death row drama, which stars Alfre Woodard as a prison warden struggling with the emotional demands of her job. The film will next screen as the opening night selection of New York City’s upcoming New Directors/New Films festival.
In IndieWire’s review, Eric Kohn wrote of the film, “Alfre Woodard embodies the extraordinary challenges of a woman tasked with sending men to their death, while bottling up her emotions so tight she looks as if she might blow. Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s second feature maintains the quiet, steady rhythms of a woman so consumed by her routine that by the end of the opening credits, it appears to have consumed her humanity as well.”
This year’s other Grand Jury Prize winners include Nanfu Wang’s “One Child Nation” (U.S. Documentary), Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” (World Dramatic), and Kotevska and Stefanov’s “Honeyland” (World Documentary).
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No word yet on a release date for the film, but as Woodard’s performance garnered strong buzz about awards possibilities, look for this one to hit theaters in the fall.
Woodard fans can soon see the actress in Netflix’s “Juanita,” premiering March 8 on the platform, in which she plays a woman who reinvents herself.