You Go Girl!, a new film by theater faculty member Shariffa Ali, will premiere online in the short films competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. This marks Ali’s second year in the internationally-renowned festival, as her debut virtual reality short ATOMU was an official selection at Sundance in 2020. Chosen out of over 10,500 festival submissions worldwide, You Go Girl! screens among nearly 100 other animated, documentary, and narrative films included in the short films program.
You Go Girl! follows Audrey Jenkins, a New York City comedian eager to get her big break. Impressing club managers is no joke, but comedy helps Audrey navigate a difficult relationship with her distant, disapproving “outdoor enthusiast” of a mother. That all changes when Audrey receives devastating news and travels to an isolated mountain range in Oregon. There she must rise above her fears, make peace with the world her mother has come to love, and in the process, embrace her whole self.
In speaking about the project, Shariffa Ali notes:
“This film began as a love letter to my mom – all her passion, quirks, and resilience. Throughout the pandemic, it has morphed into therapy. Black women are fierce. We care for each other deeply. We belong everywhere. Amid such trying times, You Go Girl! is an affirmation for us – less an escape into the outdoors and more a spiritual journey to celebrate our Black mothers. My hope is that everyone may use Audrey’s humor as medicine. Relish the peace and beauty of Nature. Embrace joy through heartbreak. Let this film be an elixir of healing.”
Shariffa Chelimo Ali is an international creative leader committed to working with an open heart at the intersection of the performing arts and humanitarianism. Originally from Kenya and raised in South Africa, Ali has been a New York resident since 2013, working primarily as a director, community organizer and administrator at The Public Theater and The New Group, among others. Ali served as assistant director to her mentor Cynthia Nixon for Rasheeda Speaking, Steve (The New Group) and Motherstruck! (Culture Project). She has lectured and directed at NYU, Brooklyn College, Yale University and Princeton University, where her productions include Eclipsed, Detroit ’67, Intimate Apparel, We Are Proud to Present and an original new musical We Were Everywhere. As a lecturer in theater at Princeton, Ali teaches undergraduate students on course topics including introductory art making, South African protest theater, and exploration of Afrofuturism and the Avant Garde.
You Go Girl! premieres virtually on Thursday, January 20 at 11:00 a.m. (EST) and will be available to screen on demand through Sunday, January 30 at 1:59 a.m. (EST). For more information about the festival including tickets and online screening instructions, review the Sundance Film Festival guide.
The film is directed by Shariffa Ali, features Tiffany Mann, and is produced by AliAlea & The Black Whole Inc. Production, in association with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Travel Oregon, and Oregon Made Creative Foundation. Produced by Adrian Alea, Kamilah Long, and Courtney Williams.
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981 to foster independence, risk-taking, and new voices in American film, the nonprofit Sundance Institute serves as a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen. Sundance provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theater, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. In addition to the annual film festival, the Institute hosts many public programs in the U.S. and around the world to connect artists with audiences to present original voices, inspire new ideas, and create community around independent storytelling.