Variety’s Creative Impact Honoree Justin Simien Returns to Sundance With ‘Bad Hair’

Justin Simien understands the value of a compelling story.Before he broke out with his award-winning indie satire “Dear White People” in 2014, the 36-year-old American filmmaker worked in publicity, doing gigs at studios like Paramount and Focus Features.

It was this experience, working on massively successful hits such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “Paranormal Activity,” that taught Simien the art of selling an idea to an audience.“I learned that the story about the story is really important,” Simien explains, as he prepares to bring his latest picture, the comic horror film “Bad Hair,” to Sundance, where Variety is honoring him with its Creative Impact Award.

“You have to prepare people to watch something — not only help an audience find a film, but help them understand the kind of film they’re walking into.

That was extremely enlightening.”Simien’s breakthrough was “Dear White People,” an acerbic comedy about black students

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