The youngest director ever to have a film at the Tribeca Film Festival has not only won the festival’s top prize for a narrative film, but that film nearly swept all of the narrative categories.

Phillip Youmans was presented The Founders Award (Best Narrative Feature) for his film, Burning Cane. He is the first Black director to win this award. He wrote, directed, and shot the film when he was 17. Youmans also won Best Cinematography for the film and Wendell Pierce, the film’s lead, won Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film.

The logline for the film: Set among the cane fields of rural Louisiana, Burning Cane follows a deeply religious mother struggling to reconcile her convictions of faith with the love she has for her troubled son. 

Youmans recently told Shadow And Act: “I feel fortunate to be in Tribeca. It’s crazy, thinking about that, I’m living it. 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. People who believed in me were willing to work well below industry rates to help me do it, and my creative voice, my creative instincts were good enough. That’s the best part. That feels good. That in itself, outside of any sort of noise or anything, that for me has been very, very comforting.”

Other winners include the documentary, 17 Blocks, which was awarded Best Editing in a Documentary Film and the short, St. Louis Superman, received a Speical Jury Mention.



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Photo: Getty Images/Tribeca