New Orleans Teen Wins Top Honors at Tribeca Film Festival

Photo Credit: Phillip Youmans

When New Orleans native Phillip Youmans completed “Burning Cane,” he was only 17 years old. Already the youngest filmmaker to compete in the Tribeca Film Festival, he now has the honor of being it’s youngest winner.

On Thursday, the now 19-year-old’s film took home the award for best U.S. narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, making him the first African American director to do so. The film also won awards for best cinematography and best actor.

The film follows “The Wire” (played by Wendell Pierce) – a Louisiana preacher who turns to alcohol as he grieves the loss of his wife. Burning Cane is set in rural Southern Louisiana and was inspired by Youmans’ Baptist upbringing. In addition to directing the film, Youman also wrote the script, earning him high praise from the Tribeca jury. They hailed the teenager as “a voice that is searingly original.”

“We loved this filmmaker’s vision and we love this filmmaker’s inevitable brilliant future,” the jury said.


Youmans, now a freshman attending New York University, will take home a prize of $20,000.

Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.

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