Burning Cane

Phillip Youmans, USA 2019, 77’
Polish premiere
Bull Frances Ferguson

A hit at this year’s edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, Burning Cane left New York with three awards: for best film, for cinematography, and for best actor. The film marks the directorial debut of teenager Phillip Youmans, who not only wrote the script but also directed, shot, and edited the film—all while still in high school. Burning Cane is a portrait of a small town in Louisiana that has been forgotten by both God and people. It is precisely God that the Reverend Tillman (Wendell Pierce) tries to instill in the heart of the impoverished community, but he is far from ideal himself—a bitter man who grumbles about the modern world and frequently gets behind the wheel while under the influence. Trying to help him is his neighbor Helen (Karen Kaia Livers), a woman who, while mourning her dead dog, also has a problem with her unemployed son (Dominique McClellan). While the latter’s wife is at work, he prefers, instead of taking care of his son, to listen to old records and to keep filling his glass—not to mention one for the boy as well. In this bleak but poetic portrait of the American South, faith, family, violence, and poverty are linked in an overpowering embrace.

Adam Kruk


Tribeca FF 2019 - U.S. Narrative Competition Jury Award for Best Feature, Best Actor and Cinematography

Phillip Youmans

Born in 1999, Phillip Youmans is a filmmaker from New Orleans. His passion for film began with small acting roles that he performed in local productions as a child. He made his first attempts at original screenwriting and direction while still a teenager. Work on his debut feature, Burning Cane, began even before he graduated from New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. The film was an instant hit at several American festivals (Tribeca, Seattle).


2017 Ivory (short)

2019 Płonąca trzcina / Burning Cane

Cast & Crew

director Phillip Youmans
screenplay Phillip Youmans
cinematography Phillip Youmans
editing Phillip Youmans
music Kevin Gullage
cast Wendell Pierce, Karen Kaia Livers, Dominique McClellan, Braelyn Kelly
producer Wendell Pierce, Mose Mayer, Ojo Akinlana, Karen Kaia Livers, Cassandra Youmans, Phillip Youmans
production Denizen Pictures
sales Untitled Entertainment
language English
coloration colour
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