Natalie Jasmine Harris Shines: ‘Grace’ Debuts at Sundance 2024

Filmmaker Natalie Jasmine Harris, a native of Silver Spring, recently premiered her latest film, “Grace,” at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January this year.

Selected from a vast pool of submissions, “Grace” tells the poignant tale of a young Black girl in the 1950s and secured a spot at the renowned 2024 Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the nation.

Having roots in Silver Spring, Harris’s journey took her to Virginia before starting college in D.C., according to WTOP. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2020, she now calls New York City home.

“I really did do the full D.C., Maryland, Virginia experience,” Harris said to WTOP, reflecting on her diverse regional influences. “It informs a lot of my work.”

Harris’ NYU thesis film, “PURE,” garnered The 2020 Directors Guild of America’s Student Film Award, screening at numerous film festivals worldwide such as BFI Flare, ABFF, NewFest, Outfest, and The Hamptons International Film Festival.

HBO acquired “PURE” for distribution in 2022, making it available for streaming on Max.

Grace” delicately unfolds the narrative of a young girl preparing for baptism while grappling with newfound romantic feelings for her best friend Louise. Harris described the film as “a very quiet film,” drawing inspiration from Black Southern gothic cinema that influenced her artistic journey.

“She starts to second guess the feelings she has for her best friend Louise that are beginning to feel romantic. It’s a very quiet film,” she said. “It’s also inspired by Black Southern gothic films that really paved the way for me.”

Through “Grace,” Harris eloquently captures Black girlhood through a queer lens, aiming to reshape storytelling and representation in the industry.

“I didn’t often see myself on screen growing up,” Harris said to WTOP. “When I decided that I wanted to be a narrative filmmaker, I knew that I really wanted to help change some of the things that I noticed about storytelling and representation.”

136 backers pledged $10,166 on Kickstarter to help bring the film to life last year.

“Grace” Production Still Courtesy of Natalie Jasmine Harris

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