An American Love Story

Director: Jennifer Fox

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


Jennifer Fox returns to Sundance (her film, Beirut: The Last Home Movie, was the documentary prizewinner in 1988) with an epic and groundbreaking documentary effort. An American Love Story is an intimate and incredibly moving series about a black man and a white woman who struggle against racial stereotypes and societal prejudices to keep their family together. As Fox follows Bill Sims and Karen Wilson over the course of a year and a half, a universal story of family values emerges which celebrates the endurance of love.
The first five episodes introduce the Wilson-Simses, a gentle foursome made up of Bill, Karen, and their girls, Cicily (twenty) and Chaney (twelve). This section recounts the parents’ love story, Cicily’s struggles with being biracial at an elite college, Karen’s worsening illness, Cicily’s trip to Nigeria, and Chaney’s first date. The final four episodes chronicle the drama of Karen’s hysterectomy, Bill’s struggle with alcoholism, Cicily’s graduation, Bill’s attempt to save a son from an earlier union from jail, and the couple’s journey back to their beginnings to attend their twenty-fifth high school reunion in Ohio.
A truly remarkable accomplishment, An American Love Story succeeds where race theory and civil rights activism often fall short by elegantly connecting national debates about inter-racial relationships with personal, intimate experience. By finding truth in the minutiae of daily life, Fox gives Americans a way to start
talking about the difficult but critical issues of race, poverty, and gender equality while telling an inspirational story of family life.

Jennifer Fox, Director
Jennifer Fox first came to Sundance with her critically acclaimed film, Beirut: The Last Home Movie, which won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary and the Excellence in Cinematography Award in 1988. Later she filmed the world tour of Tibetan Buddhist Lama Namkhai Norbu Rimpoche for the film Portrait of a Master. She currently teaches film at New York University and is working on two screenplays.

(Archives note: a 9-part miniseries)

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]