Questlove’s Summer of Soul wins at Sundance 2021


Written by Stephanie Goodman

A documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, often called the Black Woodstock, and a feature about a hearing daughter in a deaf family took top honors Tuesday night at the first virtual edition of the Sundance Film Festival.

In the nonfiction category, both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award went to Summer of Soul, a potent mix of never-before-seen concert footage and history lesson by first-time filmmaker Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove.

Among dramatic features, both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award went to Coda, an acronym for “child of deaf adults.” Sian Heder (Tallulah) wrote and directed the crowd-pleasing tale starring Emilia Jones as a teenager who serves as an interpreter for her working-class family in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Additionally, Heder won the directing award for American features, and the film won a special honor for its acting ensemble.

In the world-cinema feature competition, Hive, which follows the wife of a soldier missing in the Kosovo war, won both the grand jury and audience prizes as well as the directing award for its filmmaker, Blerta Basholli. Among world-cinema documentaries, Flee, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated look at an Afghan refugee in Denmark, won the grand jury prize. The Audience Award went to Writing With Fire, from Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, about India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women.

Other directing winners included, for American documentaries, Natalia Almada, whose Users examines the human costs of technology, and in the world cinema documentary category, Hogir Hirori for Sabaya, about an effort to save Yazidi women and girls held captive by ISIS.

Because of the pandemic, this edition of the festival, which officially ends Wednesday, was pared back and conducted largely online. For a complete list of winners, see

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