Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project

(Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, 2022)

TUE, NOV 7, 2023, 7:30pm

The Loft Cinema / FREE

Co-presented with Lesbian Looks and Hanson FilmTV Institute

UA Co-sponsors: UA Poetry Center, Department of Gender & Women’s Studies

“The trip to Mars can only be understood through Black Americans.” Legendary poet Nikki Giovanni’s revelation is a launching pad to an inspiring exploration of her life and legacy. Through a collision of memories, moments in American history, live readings of her poetry, and impressions of space, Giovanni urges us to imagine a future where Black women lead, and equity is a reality.

Directors Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (American Promise, The Changing Same) craft a vision fit for the radical imagination of Nikki Giovanni. Present-day Giovanni reckons with the inevitable passing of time, while an evocative melding of vérité and archival images act as openings into her mindscape, transcending time and place. Brewster and Stephenson’s approach is imaginative and dreamlike, akin to the way Giovanni’s words are hair-raising in their power to summon unrealized ways of seeing. The Afro-futuristic lens honors Giovanni’s complexity and transports us on a journey through Black liberation from the perspective of one of America’s most acclaimed and beloved writers, a profound artist and activist. Next stop, Mars.

JOE BREWSTER is a media-maker who believes in the healing power of stories. Brewster left his medical practice to create immersive, narrative, and documentary stories that provoke, challenge, and inspire. He is an Independent Spirit Award and four-time Emmy nominee, a jury prize winner at Tribeca and Sundance, and a Guggenheim fellow.

MICHÉLE STEPHENSON is a platform-agnostic artist who pulls from her Haitian and Panamanian roots to create stories centering the lived experiences of the Black diaspora. She is a Guggenheim fellow and Creative Capital artist. Stephenson lives in Brooklyn with her creative and life partner, Joe Brewster.

»Film website


Sundance 2023, Winner U.S. Grand Jury Prize, Documentary
Frameline 2023, Winner Jury Award, Outstanding Documentary Feature


‘Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project’ proves the power of poetry
—McKenna Neef, VOX Magazine

“Simply Majestic. A masterpiece”
—Jeanine T. Abraham, BLACK GIRL NERDS
»Full review

“An eloquent and engaging portrait”
—Lisa Kennedy, VARIETY

“Insightful, entertaining”
—Manohla Dargis, NEW YORK TIMES

“An inventive, imaginative documentary”

“Fierce, funny and captivating to watch.”