The New York Times Company

09/13/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/13/2021 10:33

Sundance Winner “Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma” Acquired by The New York Times Op-Docs with Premiere set for September 14

The New York Times is thrilled to announce that 'Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma,' winner of the Short Film Jury Award for Nonfiction at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, will make its debut on NYTimes.com on September 14 as part of Op-Docs, The Times's award-winning series of short documentaries by independent filmmakers. The film is directed by Topaz Jones and filmmaking duo rubberband (Jason Filmore Sondock and Simon Davis).

'Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma' explores Jones's education on his own Black identity through a reimagining of the Black ABCs. In 1970, Black educators in Chicago developed a flashcard set of the alphabet in order to provide Black-centered teaching tools to a vastly white landscape of textbooks and learning materials-and the Black ABCs were born. Now, 50 years later, artist Topaz Jones offers a new vision of his - and America's - Black identity through a reimagining of the Black ABCs. The film, which was created as a visual companion piece to Jones's musical album of the same name, is told through 26 individual scenes, each representing a letter of the alphabet and Topaz's corresponding update to their meanings.

'We are excited to release this boundary-pushing short film on The Times's digital and mobile platforms. Op-Docs has followed the film's journey since it premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and we are thrilled to partner with the filmmakers to share this incredible work of visual and musical imagination with audiences around the world,' said Christine Kecher, senior commissioning editor, The New York Times Op-Docs.

Topaz Jones said: 'At the heart of 'Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma' is a desire for preservation. We found joy in uncovering new creative ways to archive moments in a single life that could speak to the spirit of many lives. We're honored to partner with an historic institution like The Times to present this raw, unconventional exploration of thought and memory as a record of Black Americans' complex relationship to identity in the early aughts. May it inspire and make others feel seen in their own self discovery for generations to come.'

'We often think that in creating this work, we created a three dimensional object in a two dimensional space-an attempt at a Topaz-shaped hologram, for people that love him by people that love him. In that way, this film was the effort of a village of people that believed in the portrait we painted of Topaz and how we went about creating it. We keep talking about bringing the film home-we genuinely believe there are physical cities and places in this world where this film belongs. Little nooks and crannies carved out in them where 'Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma' fits. Like Chicago. And Montclair. And 8th Grade classrooms. And hotass summer days, full of sweat,' added rubberband.

The film was produced by Luigi Rossi and executive produced by Kevin Storey, with creative direction by Eric J. McNeal and cinematography by Chayse Irvin. For Op-Docs, Adam Ellick is executive producer and Christine Kecher is senior commissioning editor. The film was produced by New York-based film, theatre and TV production and management company SMUGGLER in association with Frenzy Paris, BWGTBLD GmbH and Section 80.

About Op-Docs

Op-Docs is the New York Times' award-winning series of short documentaries by independent filmmakers, and is part of the Opinion Video department. Op-Docs are curated from works by both renowned and emerging filmmakers from all over the world, with a collection of more than 350 short films that have sparked global conversations, influenced national policies, and garnered an array of industry distinctions, including Emmy Awards, Peabody Awards, and Oscar nominations.