At the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this year, Phillip Youmans made history. The 19-year-old director took home the top prize at the festival, the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, for his debut Burning Cane—the first Black director in Tribeca history to do so.
Youmans also nabbed the award for Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film, while Wendell Pierce, who plays Reverend Tillman in Burning Cane and also co-produced the film, earned the award for Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film.
Burning Cane is a slow-burning, mesmerizing look at the rural South, religion, and the toxicity that can spread through its misinterpretation. The story follows Helen (Karen Kaia Livers), a mother conflicted by the deeds of her son, Daniel (Dominique McClellan) and her religion. Pierce’s alcoholic Reverend Tillman leads the local church.