The award-winning film Burning Cane, written, directed, photographed and co-edited by 19-year-old Phillip Youmans, has been acquired by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing.

Youmans’ debut film won the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Founders Award Winner for Best Narrative Feature, making Youmans the first African American director to win the award. While at Tribeca, it also won the award for Best Actor (Wendell Pierce) and Best Cinematography. The film was also a 2019 Venice Film Festival Official Selection.

Youmans created the film when he was 17, setting the film within “the complexity and complacency of family life and religion in rural Louisiana.” As the youngest director ever to be in competition at Tribeca and the first winner of the Founders Award, Youmans has quickly established himself as a force on the rise in Hollywood.

“Through his exceptional film, Phillip Youmans has cemented himself as one to watch, one to cheer for, one to be proud of,” said Tilane Jones, ARRAY President. “He takes the complicated relationship between faith and addiction and delivers a nuanced glimpse with truly unforgettable characters. Everyone at ARRAY fell in love with this beautiful film and this dynamic filmmaker. We’re delighted to share Phillip’s talent while showcasing Burning Cane as our 24th acquisition.”

Youmans told Shadow And Act in April about how he felt to make history at Tribeca. “I feel fortunate to be in Tribeca,” he said. “…I’m happy that Burning Cane is going to be seen. I’m happy that it resonated with people, and that it’s from my voice. I didn’t have to compromise anything. I’d say that’s the most validating aspect of it. This is a film that I wanted to make.”



19-Year-Old Phillip Youmans Becomes Youngest Director And First Black Filmmaker To Win Tribeca’s Top Prize With ‘Burning Cane’

History Maker: 19-Year Old Director Phillip Youmans Talks the Black Church, ‘Burning Cane’ and Trusting His Vision [Tribeca Interview]


Photo: THOMAS URBAIN/AFP/Getty Images, Tribeca