News & Politics

This Documentary Set in DC Was a Crowd Favorite at Sundance

“Daughters,” about young girls and their incarcerated dads, won multiple awards at the festival.

A still from Daughters by Angela Patton and Natalie Rae, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Photograph courtesy of Sundance Institute.

More than a decade ago, Richmond activist Angela Patton got on stage at TedxWomen to talk about a special community event she helped plan—a Daddy-Daughter Dance designed to reconnect young girls with their incarcerated fathers. Since then, the video of her speech has garnered over a million views, and her organization, Girls for a Change, brought similar dances to other cities across the nation—including Washington, DC. 


This year, Patton and co-director Natalie Rae released Daughters, a documentary that chronicles one such in DC iteration. The emotional film premiered on January 22 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and quickly won over audiences. At the festival Awards Ceremony on Friday, the doc took home both the “Audience” award for U.S. Documentary films and the “Festival Favorite Award” – which attendees selected from all of the festival’s new feature films.

Daughters was eight years in the making. To create the film, Rae followed four DC-area girls for years as they grappled with the absence of their fathers, and Patton followed the dads in a local jail, as they worked through an intensive therapy program focused on reconnecting them with their families. It all culminates in the special father-daughter reunion dance—which for many of the girls marks the only time they will be able to touch their fathers until the end of their sentences.

With its intimate focus on four families, the film aims to pose larger questions about the generational effects of incarceration, and to tear down stereotypes about incarcerated fathers. In an interview with Variety, Patton said she hopes audiences will walk away from the film “seeing that these individuals are human” and “deserve second chances.” 

Daughters is not currently set to screen anywhere else, but with this early recognition on the festival circuit, that may change soon. You can sign up for email updates on their website.

Omega Ilijevich
Editorial Fellow