one thousand and one It is unique and a must see. Anyone who saw him at Sundance this past January, where he gave his world premiere along with other talks in town like spirits of the past And Dream Journal, will tell you what a unique movie it is. Moreover, the film eventually won the Grand Jury Prize, the Best Sundance Award in the American Dramatic Competition category. This is important when you consider previous winners such as minari And coda It later earned Best Picture Oscar nominations (the latter even going so far as to win a statuette last year).

For the writer/director A.V. Rockwellwhich made his directorial debut one thousand and oneWinning the Grand Jury Prize is, of course, secondary to what I set out to do in the beginning. In our interview prior to the film’s theatrical release, she described the festival experience as “wonderful, not only for me as a director, but the way I feel about, like, ‘Okay, I did what I came out with in honor of these black women who I really wanted to celebrate. “.

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In fact, the film was conceived as a celebration of “the power of black women, especially those who have nurtured me and helped lift me up and make me the person that I am.” Rockwell later added, “I wanted to honor a group of black women and really honor inner-city black women, who feel so misunderstood and invisible by society.”

As the official synopsis reads, one thousand and one Told over a decade and “follows the unapologetic and free-spirited Inez (Tiana Taylor), who kidnapped her six-year-old son Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City.” Will Catlett It stars Lucky, Inez’s lover and eventual husband, and thus Terry’s stepfather. Terry plays: Aaron Kingsley Aditola (at the age of six). Avin Courtney (at 13); And Josiah Cross (in 17).

Teyana Taylor on seeing herself in Inez

Heading to its theatrical release, reviews for one thousand and one were unanimous in their praise, particularly for Taylor’s groundbreaking performance. NPR, for example, heralds the film as a “funky” and “intimate drama.” [with] acute socio-political context. Furthermore, CNN reports, in fact, that Taylor has already been included in talks surrounding the 2024 Academy Award for Best Actress.

While many people will probably immediately recognize Taylor from her musical accomplishments — she’s released three studio albums and more than a dozen singles to date — many singers have established themselves as great actors throughout film history, reaching the Oscars (just) look. Cher and Lady Gaga).

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Of course, going from the recording studio to the big screen wasn’t an overnight transition for Taylor. Throughout the past decade, she has had small roles in several films that you already know Madea’s big happy family Recently Coming 2 America. Somehow, her path from being born and raised in Harlem by a single mother to becoming an accomplished singer, to now, debuting her leading role in a feature film — “a force of nature,” as Rockwell described it — has made her the perfect person to play Inez in. one thousand and one.

“I definitely see a lot of Ainz in the women around me, a lot of Ainz in me, what a survivor she was, how much a warrior she was,” Taylor said. “I see a lot of that even in my journey and career leading up to Inez. I dealt with a lot of things thrown my way.” This made it easier for her to understand her character and provide truth in her performance, a process she also described as “therapeutic”. She added, “Inez [was] An outlet for me to scream out loud, get away from being a superhero and being a strong woman all the time. I finally managed to get a moment of vulnerability through art. It meant a lot.”

Will Catlett after driving AV Rockwell

Focus features

“It was like I had a gut feeling I had to do this,” Catlett said, describing being immediately drawn to the material he was given for the audition process. “I haven’t read the full script yet, but what the AV wrote on the page—the sides—I said, ‘I know I’m destined to play this guy.'”

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In fact, getting Lucky was easy precisely because of how well Rockwell wrote the script. Of course, as is typical of Shoots, Catlett recalled that there were tough days during production. He joked about receiving “a lot of notes” from Rockwell, but as a writer and producer himself, he eventually understood that her notes were less an indictment of his performance and more of a direction towards achieving her vision. “I was like, ‘Okay, I get you sister, I know what you’re doing.'” How can I apply myself more to be the best helper for what you are trying to say? “

Josiah Cross on A Thousand Families

Josiah Cross in One Thousand and One
Focus features

“It was one of the most rewarding experiences,” Cross said of his time. one thousand and one. Although he only appears in the film’s third act as the oldest Terry, he is fully brought into the fold by Rockwell and Taylor, which echoes Catlett’s sentiments, leading to a kind of spiritual experience for him.

In fact, prior to filming, Taylor hosted a gathering at her home, and that night Cross “knew we were all connected in a way that transcends the script or the movie.” A relative newcomer to the industry, during production he felt “protected” under Rockwell and Taylor. The fact that these two black women were driving him, even if it didn’t make as much noise or affect as many people, I’m riding with [them] Wherever they take it.”

The 2023 Oscars race featured black women being disqualified in Best Actress and Best Director (although films like until And The King’s Woman more than you deserve). comes on the heels, one thousand and one It’s set to, at the very least, prove once again the degree of storytelling that can happen with black women in the lead, and hopefully garner the attention of the Academy in the process.

For Catlett, the film’s Grand Jury award is further confirmation of audiences’ desire for more stories like it. “I think the culture is ready for that,” he said. “I think everyone is prepared for that, especially coming out of COVID — so many deaths, so many losses — you want to see something real and original. I think Sundance and the jury saw that. [The film] It really affected them, and in turn, I think it will affect the world.”

Produced by Sight Unseen, Hillman Grad, and Makeready, Focus features are released one thousand and one In theaters today, March 31, 2023.


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