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By Najla T. Williams
University News
February 4, 2011

Howard Alumnus Succeeds at Sundance

WASHINGTON –  Bradford Young (MFA ‘04) won the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Excellence in Cinematography Award in the dramatic short film category for Pariah.

Young worked with writer Dee Rees and Spike Lee, who produced the film. Pariah follows the story of a young Brooklyn woman juggling conflicting identities, friendships, family and heartbreak in a search for sexual expression. Young said he learned of the award while at a concert with his wife and in-laws.

“[This award] came out of left field. It was totally unexpected,” Young said. “I don’t strive for awards, I strive to grow. This award is just a bonus and an award to all of us.”

Young received his Masters of Fine Arts in 2004 from Howard University’s School of Communications with a specialization in film production. In 2009, he was featured in Filmmaker Magazine as one of its “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

Young said Pariah, like many of his collaborations, explores the depth of Black people as a race. He suggested that the film’s success in cinematography was based on his method of shooting, which allowed the characters to “lead the camera.” Young served as the cinematographer for Restless City, which was also submitted to the Sundance Film Festival.

According to, the goal of the movie is to “uplift LGBT youth and promote better understanding, acceptance, and dialogue within families.” Although Pariah follows the story of a lesbian teenager, Young said the portrayal of the father figure represented a depiction unlike any seen in a Black film in a long time.

Young is currently collaborating on projects in Houston, Tennessee, Arkansas, Chicago and New York. His work can be seen in Mississippi Damned, which will be released on Showtime this month.

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