Ava DuVernay: ‘Black directors told not to go for international festivals.’

Ava DuVernay
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Ava DuVernay is the first female Black American director to feature at Venice Film Festival in its 80-year history. 

Ava DuVernay is used to shattering glass ceilings and the director of Selma (which she is pictured helming, above) has done so again, becoming the first ever Black US director to feature at the Venice Film Festival in the event’s 80-year history. DuVernay has her new film Origin in competition at the event and it’s said to have caused quite the buzz too when it premiered last night.

Origin's synopsis reads as such: ‘the film is inspired by the remarkable life and work of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson — played by Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) — as she pens her seminal book, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents. While grappling with tremendous personal tragedy, Wilkerson sets herself on a path of global investigation and discovery. Despite the colossal scope of her project, she finds beauty and bravery while crafting one of the defining American nonfiction books of recent years.’

DuVernay used the moment to highlight the fact that it took eight decades for a Black female filmmaker to make it into Venice and spoke about it, stating “for Black filmmakers, we’re told that people who love films in other parts of the world don’t care about our stories and don’t care about our films,.

“This is something that we are often told — ‘you cannot play international film festivals, no one will come, people will not come to your press conference, people will not come to the P&I screenings, they will not be interested in selling tickets, you may not even get into this festival, so don’t apply.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told not to apply to Venice, you won’t get in. It won’t happen. And this year, it happened.”

In both her her art and in the public sphere, DuVernay has never been one to shy away from difficult conversations, being among the first to criticise Steven Spielberg’s planned petition to stop Netflix from competing in the Oscars back in 2019.

We’re looking forward to Origin as we’re sure it will continue DuVernay’s trademark style of gorgeous filmmaking coupled with fearless social commentary. The cast is very promising too, including  including Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. Also starring are Jon Bernthal, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Famiga, Nick Offerman and Audra McDonald. You can catch the trailer here.

The Hollywood Reporter

Image: BigStock

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