Jessica Kingdon’s Oscar-nominated documentary Ascension premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Festival, and won the Best Documentary Feature award. In addition, Jesscia also received the 2021 Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director, an accomplishment that few have achieved at Tribeca.
Set in China, Ascension is a story that many New Yorkers can relate to—a story on labor, consumerism and the drive to attain wealth. The story observes the different classes trying to navigate the evolving workforce as China continues to become a global power. Kingdon channels her experiences growing up as a Chinese American in New York City, to strengthen her attempt “... to understand China from both a personal perspective, and also a political one.”
Tribeca is celebrating remarkable women during Women’s History Month. We caught up with Kingdon for an interview that captures the Tribeca alum as she discusses the making of Ascension, her heritage, and her filmmaking journey.
Some Highlights from Interview:
The Many Challenges
“Things happen that are even more interesting and more profound than anything I could have thought of myself… so I'm trying to be a vessel for these moments of truth to arise, instead of trying to manufacture them.”
The Struggle for Patience:
“Most of the frustrating points for me while editing actually was seeing when I would break a long take that would end up ruining a shot [that] I didn't even realize was good in the moment.”
Advice To Upcoming Directors:
“Sometimes… I was really excited and sometimes I felt like it was a terrible idea, and I realized the end goal is just to finish. Just finish making the movie.”