Coolidge Breakthrough Artist Award Honoring Elegance Bratton


Sold out!

Screening of The Inspection followed by Q&A with filmmaker Elegance Bratton, moderated by Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham.

The Coolidge Breakthrough Artist Award was created to spotlight the next generation of filmmaking talent. As we look to our future—which we are doing a lot of, with our theatre expansion slated to open later this year—we want to spotlight the bold and innovative film artists who represent the future of cinema. Our inaugural honoree is award-winning and boundary-breaking director, writer, and producer Elegance Bratton (Pier Kids, The Inspection).

Elegance Bratton will join us for a special screening of his acclaimed new film The Inspection, starring Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union. After the screening, he will participate in a Q&A moderated by Boston Globe columnist Renée Graham and will be presented with The Coolidge Breakthrough Artist Award.

become a sponsor



Elegance Bratton is an award-winning and boundary-breaking director, writer, and producer. He began making films as a US Marine after spending a decade homeless. His work captures stories untold with an intention to show the universal power of our shared humanity. Bratton’s films have played in over 200 film festivals worldwide including the New York Film Festival, Toronto, Sundance, Outfest, BFI, Doc NYC, and the BlackStar Film Festival. He was recently named one of VARIETY’s 10 Directors to Watch for 2023. 

Bratton made his television debut as the creator and executive producer of Viceland’s My House. The series, which chronicled underground competitive ballroom dancing, was nominated for Outstanding Documentary at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards. 

In 2021, Bratton’s critically acclaimed feature documentary, Pier Kids, won the Independent Spirit Awards’ Truer Than Fiction Award, which is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. Pier Kids explores the lives of Black, homeless queer and transgender youth in New York. 

The Inspection, his semi-autobiographical narrative fiction debut, world premiered as the opening night film of the Toronto International Film Festival Discovery section and was the closing night film of the New York Film Festival. The critically acclaimed A24 film centers around a young homeless gay man who joins the Marine Corps to win back his mother’s love, but learns how to respect himself at bootcamp. The film has garnered numerous award nominations including from the Golden Globes, Gothams, and Film Independent Spirit Awards. 

Bratton is currently in post-production on the upcoming feature documentary, Hellfighters, which highlights the story of African American Jazz pioneer and music mogul James Reese Europe, who was a lieutenant in the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Bratton also co-runs the production company, Freedom Principle, alongside his producing partner, Chester Algernal Gordon. 

He was a Sundance 2020 Native Lab mentor and a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab mentor. Bratton holds a BS from Columbia University (2014) and MFA from NYU Tisch Graduate Film (2019). 

He and his partner live in Baltimore. 


In Elegance Bratton's deeply moving film inspired by his own story, a young, gay Black man (Jeremy Pope), rejected by his mother (Gabrielle Union) and with few options for his future, decides to join the Marines, doing whatever it takes to succeed in a system that would cast him aside. But even as he battles deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community, giving him a hard-earned sense of belonging that will shape his identity and forever change his life.

Reviews for The Inspection:

NYTimes Critics’ Pick. “Subtle, bittersweet and beautiful.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“The Inspection would be a welcome revisionist approach to military boot camp movies even if it wasn’t based on writer/director Elegance Bratton’s own life story. But what a story to translate to the screen: Jeremy Pope delivers a riveting performance as a gay Black man who returns from a life on the street to enter boot camp in a failed bid to win the approval of his stern mother (Gabrielle Union in a domineering turn). But the most remarkable aspect of the movie is the way it avoids groveling in bad vibes: This isn’t a bleak drama about repression or coming out; it’s about inviting people in.” — Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“A strikingly personal portrait of the military under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.” — Justin Chang, L.A. Times


FILM LEGEND ($10,000+)

David Rosenthal & Sally Abrahms

DIRECTOR ($5,000+)


Meg & Tomas Bergstrand

Brookline Bank

Georgia & Bruce Johnson

Michael Maynard & Ilene Greenberg

BENEFACTOR ($2,500+)

Adam & Rachel Hirsch

FRIEND ($1,000+)


Laura Allen & Ken Lewis

Lucy Aptekar & Gerry Leader 

Amy Brand

Barbara Stein

Katherine Tallman & Peter Norstrand

co-presented by:


1hr 35mins

The debut feature film from Elegance Bratton, starring Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Pope.