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Rather surprisingly, this drama, which takes place in New York from the mid-nineties to the beginning of the 2000s, triumphed at the Sundance festival. AV Rockwell’s debut feature film won the grand jury prize in the main category of the festival, for the best American film. The strongest asset of this emotional drama about growing up, gentrification, finding one’s identity and one’s place under the sun is in the main protagonist. The American dancer, singer and actress Teyana Taylor, completely unknown to me until now, is Inez, a young woman from New York’s Harlem who is released from prison at the very beginning of the film.

In those moments, Inez is 22 years old, and the first thing she will do after getting out of prison will be the search for her then six-year-old son Terry. While Inez was in prison, little Terry ended up in foster care, but when the boy gets injured and ends up in the hospital, Inez will take advantage of the situation and simply take him home with her. Although her family no longer wants anything to do with her, Inez is convinced that she is the best option for raising her son because there are too many children in foster care anyway. She will immediately change her son’s name from Terry to Darly, obtain forged documents about him, and we will follow the life of mother and son in several episodes, when Terry is 6, 13 and 18 years old.

And through that time, we see how Harlem, that is, the part of New York that at that time was mainly inhabited by African-Americans and Latinos, the poorest, but also New York is going through gentrification, so that such neighborhoods are also changing, and along with that, the demographics. population. We also see the rather perfidious methods used by the owners of the buildings there to get rid of the tenants they found there, and although Inez will also marry a guy named Lucky in the meantime, the mother-son relationship is in the foreground. In addition to the classic mother-son connection, Inez and Terry are also connected by a common secret, and the desire to provide their son with the best life possible and to have better opportunities than she had, will lead to this secret being exposed.

And as it goes, one secret binds another and until the end, Rockwell has some surprises in store in this emotional, poignant and complex drama. When Terry turns out to be an extremely intelligent and gifted student who is offered a scholarship to a prestigious university, Mom’s past sins will begin to surface. “A Thousand and One” was one of those films that stands out for its authenticity, realism and avoids falling into melodramatization. It is obvious that the film was made by a person who himself lived in those parts of New York, which he obviously knows very well, as well as that the characters were embodied by actors who are there on home soil.