If I Had Known I Was a Genius

Director: Dominique Wirtschafter
Screenwriters: Markus Redmond

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Michael, a precocious African American boy, struggles to fit in both at home and at school, especially after the school determines that he possesses a genius IQ. His dysfunctional family is no help, refusing to encourage their gifted son. In fact, they work tirelessly to undercut his sense of self-worth; even his mother straight-out nicknames him Ugly. But when Michael enrolls in a high school drama class and finds encouragement from a wacky teacher, life finally starts looking up. Can Michael's genius abilities liberate him from the crash course to failure that society and his family have set him on?

Dominique Wirtschafter's quirky, energetic comedy offers a fresh and intelligent perspective on social malfunction and black masculinity. Whoopi Goldberg turns in a brilliant, understated performance as Michael's myopic-minded mother, while Markus Redmond delivers a marvelously ironic performance as Michael in all stages of his life. If I Had Known I Was a Genius is a unique and accomplished first-time feature from Wirtschafter and establishes her as a director to watch.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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