A Thousand and One is a powerful film that showcases the emergence of director A.V. Rockwell and actress Teyana Taylor. The film, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, takes place in 1990s/2000s Harlem and follows the story of Inez (Taylor), a recently released prisoner who struggles to provide for her young son Terry (played different actors at different stages of his life).
The film begins with Inez trying to reconnect with Terry, who is resistant to her efforts. Inez finds a room to rent and a job, and the two eventually secure their own apartment. However, as Terry grows older, challenges arise. The city of New York undergoes significant changes, with the introduction of “stop-and-frisk” policies and gentrification impacting their lives. Additionally, Inez’s marriage to Lucky becomes strained, adding to the tension within the story.
A Thousand and One explores themes of motherhood, identity, and the lengths a parent will go to protect and provide for their child. Taylor delivers a compelling performance as Inez, showcasing her conviction and determination as a mother. The film is visually striking, with Rockwell employing natural lighting and creating subtly claustrophobic set pieces to enhance the atmosphere.
While the premise of the film raises questions about plausibility, such as how Inez and Terry manage to fly under the radar of authorities, it ultimately serves as a commentary on the failures of the foster care system and society’s disregard for marginalized individuals. A Thousand and One is a gripping drama that delves into the complexities of motherhood and the challenges faced those living on the fringes of society.
– A Thousand and One (film): Directed A.V. Rockwell
– Teyana Taylor: Hip-hop vocalist, dancer, and actress
– Sundance Film Festival: Annual film festival held in Utah, United States