British-Nigerian filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr has won the short film grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival for his film, ‘Lizard.’
The film, Nigeria’s only submission at the prestigious festival, makes history as the country’s first production to win a short film Grand Jury Prize, or any award, at the biggest independent film festival in the United States.
Written by Davies and his brother Wale Davies, ‘Lizard’ follows an eight-year-old girl with an ability to sense danger, who gets ejected from Sunday school service. She unwittingly witnesses the underbelly in and around a Mega Church in Lagos, Nigeria.
It premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2020, going on to play online events including Raindance and London Short Film Festival.
Reacting to his film’s historic Sundance win, Akinola wrote on Instagram: “Literally a year to this day we started on a project conceived from a bunch of my childhood memories. Today I’m so grateful to @sundanceorg for awarding LIZARD the the Grand Jury prize for shorts.
“I’m overwhelmed and as much as I’d love to gloat, filmmaking is really crazy hard. Big love to all those who were part of the shorts program – it’s an honour to be amongst such brilliant films”.
Lizard’s success comes two years after Nigerian-American filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu became the first black woman to win a Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for her US film ‘Clemency’.