Going To Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster
1 hr 43 mins
Sunday, Nov 19, 2023
Through intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of her poetry, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film by traveling through time and space to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators.
About the Filmmaker
Filmmaker, artist, and author, Michèle Stephenson, pulls from her Haitian and Panamanian roots to think radically about storytelling and disrupt the imaginary in non-fiction spaces. She tells emotionally driven personal stories of resistance and identity that center on the lived experiences of communities of color in the Americas and the Black diaspora. Her stories intentionally reimagine and provoke thought about how we engage with and dismantle the internalized impact of systemic oppression. Stephenson draws on fiction, immersive and hybrid forms of storytelling to build her worlds and narratives. Her feature documentary, Going To Mars won the 2023 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and her earlier feature, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys and won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Her feature documentary, Stateless, premiered at Tribeca Festival and was nominated for a Canadian Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Stephenson also collaborated as co-director on the magical realist virtual reality trilogy series on racial terror, The Changing Same, which was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Interactive Media Innovative category and premiered at Sundance Film Festival. It also won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Immersive Narrative at the Tribeca Film Festival. Along with her writing partners, Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, Stephenson won an NAACP Image Award for Excellence in a Literary Work for their book, Promises Kept. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, a Guggenheim Artist Fellow, and a Creative Capital Artist awardee.
Joe Brewster is a Harvard trained psychiatrist who uses his training as the foundation in approaching the social issues he tackles as an artist and filmmaker. Brewster wrote and directed his first film, The Keeper (1995), after a two year-long stint as a prison psychiatrist at the notorious Brooklyn House of Detention. The Keeper was screened at the Edinburg, Toronto, and Sundance Festivals; receiving numerous awards. For his first work Brewster was Spirit Award nominee and has never looked back. In the past three decades, Brewster has produced and directed narrative, documentary films, and immersive media. His feature documentary, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys and won the Jury Prize at Sundance. In 2022, Brewster produced the O-DOGG: An Angeleno Take on Othello, featuring Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His groundbreaking room-scale production premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received a jury prize at the Tribeca Festival in 2021 for Best Immersive Experience. Brewster has produced and directed documentary works on PBS, Netflix, Amazon, Aljazeera, Vice, the Sundance Channel, Comcast, Disney, and the World Channel. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC, MacArthur Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Rada Studio is currently in post-production on projects with MRC, CBC and ESPN. Brewster is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and a four-time Emmy nominee. He has two children and resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and cat, Tama.