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Sophia Dawson: PURPOSE

Sophia Dawson: PURPOSE is a documentary short film written, filmed, and edited by Justin Thomas that tells the story of renowned Brooklyn visual artist and activist Sophia Dawson. Through revealing conversation and a treasure trove of archival photographs from Ms. Dawson's personal scrapbook, Justin Thomas directs an intimate and powerful portrait of a brilliant young woman determined to use her creative gifts to enlighten and empower her community.

  • Justin M. Thomas
    Director, "Truth Through A Lens"
  • Justin M. Thomas
    Writer, "Truth Through A Lens"
  • Justin M. Thomas
    Associate Producer, "The Grey Movie", Producer "Truth Through A Lens"
  • Sophia Dawson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Artist Profile, Biography, Arts, Social Justice
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 17, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Shortie Film Festival
    Brooklyn, New York
    United States
    October 4, 2019
    Festival Circuit Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Workers' Unite Film Festival
    New York, New York
    United States
    May 22, 2020
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Justin M. Thomas

Justin M. Thomas began his professional film career in 2007, when he became the Associate Producer of the Nicholas Bruckman and People's Television documentary short "The Grey Movie". The film was sponsored by the Cinereach Foundation, and in March of 2008 had its screening debut at the Grammercy Park Hotel in NYC. It was later screened by Rooftop Films and by The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
In 2009, Justin contributed to the production of the short film "The Bridge", directed by actor and producer Philipp Wolter of The Film Gym production company; on set he assisted in grip and lighting.
Beginning in 2011, Justin enrolled at the graduate program at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for their Social Documentary program. It was during his tenure that he directed, filmed, and produced his first feature film: a biographical account of the life of Dennis Flores, a Brooklyn-born media activist who films police brutality and misconduct in his community. This film, "Truth Through A Lens", won the coveted Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2014 Workers' Unite Festival, and was an Official Selection at the 2015 Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York City.
Over the past several years, Justin has contributed to a wide range of media outlets. In 2011, he became a certified studio producer for BRIC Art Media's BCAT Brooklyn Independent Television and wrote, directed, filmed, and edited the showcase "WORD: Hip Hop Television". Beginning with his graduation from SVA in 2013, Justin became a freelance videographer and produced video content for Arvato Systems North America, Firelight Media, USA Today Sports, and And Now Media.
Mr. Thomas has also continued to facilitate his own film projects; in 2017 he documented the historic Women's March in Washington, DC. In October 2019 his documentary short "Sophia Dawson: PURPOSE", about the artist and activist of the same name, became an Official Selection at the first annual Shortie Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Recently, the film also became an Official Selection at the 2020 Workers' Unite Film Festival, making Justin a two-time alumni. The film is scheduled to screen virtually throughout the summer of 2020, with a live audience screening tentatively planned for September.
Justin is currently developing a screenplay for his first narrative film, which is slated to go into production in 2021.

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Director Statement

I strive to create films that foster hope, resilience, and love through the powerful medium of Film, and to provide a space for education, reflection and open dialogue on issues and movements that are critically important in our turbulent times.