Ava DuVernay is a woman after our own heart. After the California native saw that black independent films were having a tough time getting distributed she decided to do something about it.
DuVernay founded AFFRM, the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which has helped indie gems like Restless City, KINYARWANDA, and DuVernay’s award-winning film, Middle of Nowhere make it to the big screen.
Back in February, I spoke with DuVernay about why she chose to produce and distribute her films independently verses trying to gain a big Hollywood deal, and her answer was simple: that’s not my goal.
“My goal is not to go dealing with studios from a place of begging and hoping they can help me put my stuff out,” she explained. “We’re going to put it out and if somebody wants to come along and be in the party, then that’s great, but we have a bit of a different posture with the films that we do.”
Different indeed. DuVernay’s films are intensely written and acted, and adeptly shot. She tackles stories that rarely end up on the big screen. Case in point? Her latest film due out this fall, Middle of Nowhere, which follows a woman who has to decide if she will support her incarcerated husband through his prison sentence or move on with her life. The film earned DuVernay a place in history, making her the first black woman to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival, and cemented her power-player status.
While Hollywood and other mainstream outlets continue to overlook filmmakers of color, DuVernay has decided to navigate the business on her own terms. And from the looks of things it seems to be working out just fine.